By Ted AYALA
Crowds swarmed and gathered en masse in the Glendale City Council’s (GCC) chamber on Monday night at 8 p.m. Lining the aisles were citizens and dignitaries alike, eager to celebrate the swearing-in of not only the victors from this month’s city council election, but also the inauguration of Laura Friedman as mayor of Glendale. Friedman’s mayoralty, succeeding the tenure of Ara Najarian, is a historic one for the city as she becomes the second woman to serve as mayor in Glendale’s history.
The ceremony was shot through with lightheartedness. Outgoing mayor Najarian summed it up by saying, “Sometimes we laugh [at the city council meetings]; sometimes we cry together. That’s how we do it here in Glendale.”
Other elected members of the city were on hand to speak to the new council, including Nayiri Nahabedian of the GUSD.
Acknowledging the support of her voters, Nahabedian also made clear that the GUSD and the city have tough issues to face in the coming year. “We at the GUSD are facing tough decisions just like the city is,” said Nahabedian. “But we work not to be in competition with the city, but to cooperate with the city as we move forward. We share the same values of protecting our city and our public education.”
Alongside the elation felt with the arrival of new faces to the council, there was also some moments of moving reflection courtesy by outgoing councilman John Drayman. In a gracious speech thanking the city and his supporters for being allowed to serve, Drayman also thanked new councilmember Rafi Manoukian. Drayman also broke tradition by attending the organizational meeting–a formality not usually observed by outgoing councilmembers in Glendale. “I’ve never missed a single meeting and I wasn’t about to miss this one,” observed Drayman.
Drayman also praised Manoukian for the broad voter turnout he inspired. Manoukian, Drayman pointed out, is only one of the few Glendale councilmember-elects that have broken the 10,000 vote barrier. “You have to go back to 1975 to find someone that turns out those kind of numbers–and that deserves a big round of applause,” lauded Drayman.
Drayman closed his speech with gratitude for being elected to public service and being allowed to play a part in the city‘s history: “I have been part of the arc of our city’s history. You as citizens, supporters, and partners have given me more encouragement than any elected official can hope for. Glendale is a city with a truly unlimited potential. Glendale has always taken its own path. We take pride in what we do right and cast off what doesn’t work and move on in another direction. We remain a community, in good times a bad.”
Councilman Dave Weaver kept his comments concise, but was full of thanks for his constituents and supporters. Councilman Rafi Manoukian focused his message on the city’s budget. “The community has spoken loud and clear,[…] ‘Take care of the city’s finances.’”
Outgoing mayor Ara Najarian kept his parting comments, as always, kept his attitude light, but also kept serious at what the city needs to do to remain economically healthy. “Our budget is shrinking and continues to shrink due to sagging property and sales tax revenues. The problem is how do we adjust our budget? We don’t want to shock the community by cutting services. We have found savings and incorporated efficiencies wherever possible. We’re going to have another tough budget cycle ahead of us. But you can be sure that the council will work very hard to conserve core services while remaining a responsible agency within a limited budget.”
After Najarian’s comments, Laura Friedman was nominated and elected to serve as mayor by her peers. “I am extremely humbled by this honor,” said Friedman. “I’m proud of the trust the people in Glendale have placed in me and promise never to betray that. I sincerely hope that having a woman serve as mayor after these many years will show women and girls that they do have a place in leadership roles. I look forward to serve as your mayor.”
Downstairs in the lobby, a clutch of Drayman supporters, part of a large block that occupied a quarter of the council chambers were reflecting on John Drayman’s work. Among them was Jeff Decker of Montrose. “[John Drayman] worked so hard to move the city forward. We don’t want to see anything reversed. I’d hate to see his proposal for revamping Brand Blvd. stopped. Those were John’s ideas; they need to be completed.”
Wearing hopeful buttons that had “Drayman 2013” printed on them, Montrose resident Robert Thompson expressed hope in the good work of the new council, but also in Drayman’s return to city politics. “Rafi Manoukian was able to come back. I’m sure John can do it too.”