By Ted Ayala
Glendale’s hard-fought 2013 election finally came to a close Thursday afternoon when the City Clerk’s office announced the final results. City staff began the morning by canvassing over 3,400 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots before the count began at 2:00 p.m.
With only very thin margins of votes separating many contenders for the City Council and Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) Governing Board, the interest in the outcome of the count was intense.
When the final numbers were posted, incumbent Councilmembers Ara Najarian and Laura Friedman retained their seats on the City Council. Najarian’s victory was all but assured on Election Day last week, a result confirmed by the proportion of votes he gathered: 10,165—the only City Council candidate to post vote numbers in five figures. Friedman came in behind at second place with 8,088 votes.
Of the challengers, Zareh Sinanyan managed to pull ahead of Chahe Keuroghelian, with 7,379 votes to the latters 7,023.
Sinanyan’s fortunes looked uncertain last month when allegations of racist and homophobic comments posted under his name on YouTube arose. Sinanyan, when questioned by the City Council last month disavowed the comments, but stopped short of denying he authored them.
In the race for the GUSD board, incumbent Greg Krikorian hung onto his commanding lead, with fellow incumbent Christine Walters following in second place. Armina Gharpetian came in third place.
Losing her seat was incumbent Joylene K. Wagner who came in fifth place behind challenger Jennifer Freemon.
Freemon arrived with her children as support, watching the counting process and sharing conversation with police officers and Tami Carlson, president of the Glendale Teachers Union.
Carlson, who was on hand since 9 a.m. to observe the proceedings, exuded a careful optimism.
“It’s been a close race,” she said. “Anything could happen.”
The embattled Measures B and C went down in defeat. The slimmest margin was had by Measure B, with the “no” votes overcoming the “yes” by 187 ballots.
Expressions of joy and disappointment were quick to be announced following the results.
Keuroghelian and his staff were present throughout the day at the Glendale Police’s Community Room observing the certification and counting of the ballots. The candidate himself expressed himself tersely, but without bitterness, expressing optimism despite his defeat.
“We’ll do much better next time,” he said as he left with his staff. “We’ll never stop.”
Freemon appeared to be deeply disappointed by the final results; a bemused stare on her face while she held her children.
“I don’t think I’m ready for a comment,” she said.
Councilmember Friedman quickly updated her campaign website with a message of thanks to her supporters.
“As I continue my first term on Glendale’s City Council, I am humbled and appreciative of your great show of confidence in me,” Friedman said. “We have a lot to be proud of.”
Words of gratitude to his supporters, as well as relief for the end of the campaign season came from Councilmember Najarian.
“I was fairly confident that Laura [Friedman] and I would retain our positions,” he said. “I’m not surprised by the outcome.”
With the election over, Najarian called on his colleagues to “put aside the campaign rhetoric.”
“We need to get down to the business of continuing to run this city in a professional manner.”
He also spoke confidently of the City Council’s ability to amicably reach a solution to occupy the seat that Councilmember Rafi Manoukian vacated in order to take over the position of treasurer.
“It’s our next big issue before us,” he said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to come together.”