By Ted AYALA
Frank Quintero, who less than two weeks ago stepped down from public service, returned to the Glendale City Council dais after his colleagues voted to appoint him as an interim councilmember.
Quintero emerged as a top choice last week after council debated how best to fill the position left vacant by Rafi Manoukian, who had vacated his position mid-term in favor of becoming the city’s treasurer. That vacancy set in motion rules that dictate strictly how that seat would be filled, which would leave the council no choice but hold a consolidated election – a special election that would piggy-back onto a countywide election – in June 2014. The winner of that election would have to run again in the next city election in April 2015 in order for them to finally gain a full term.
Mayor Dave Weaver cited his predecessor’s experience and disinclination to run for the office again as qualities that would make him ideal for the position.
Councilmembers Ara Najarian and Zareh Sinanyan agreed, but suggested offering the position to other former mayors as well. On Tuesday night, City Manager Scott Ochoa informed the council that all living former mayors had been contacted; all refused the position.
“Three of the [former] mayors had indicated that they were flattered, but at this point they would not, could not commit to throwing their hat in the ring,” he said.
The matter of appointing Quintero to the position provoked debate not only among the council, but also from the public.
“I don’t know what all this is about,” said Tony Passarella. “Let [Quintero] stay retired.”
Chahe Keuroghelian, who ran for the office of councilmember in the past election, sharply criticized the council when he addressed the dais.
“For many years the precedent for filling the vacancy on city council has been to select potential appointees from qualified candidates,” Keuroghelian said before listing those precedents, adding that in all those cases, never was the field of qualified candidates narrowed down to former mayors.
“Why would this council choose to take a different path this time and set a standard that city charter does not require?” he asked. “The public has spoken clearly. Over 7,000 concerned citizens voted for me, believing in the democratic process. Ignoring the will of the people is a slap on their face. The actions of the council in this appointment process seem like they simply do not want [me], even when the public has clearly stated its preference.”
Councilmembers responded to the public’s points by saying that the choice to appoint Quintero was one defined within the narrow options and guidelines available to them.
“My two primary criteria for filling this seat,” said Najarian, “is, one, the individual that is appointed not run [as an incumbent] in the very next election because that will give that person an unfair advantage over any other candidates. The second criteria is that the person coming in the middle of a budget cycle where there will be difficult financial issues to deal with, that person should have a working knowledge of that budget and experience in how to deal with that.”
Friedman expressed sympathy for Keuroghelian’s position, adding that the dynamics of the election could have been very different had Manoukian chosen to step down from his seat prior to the election rather than after. She also detailed how the city charter had been changed resulting in how mid-term appointees could be designated which differed from the precedents that Keuroghelian had listed earlier. Those changes were enacted to ensure that those type of appointments would not occur again, she said.
Mayor Weaver echoed Friedman’s words, saying that had it been up to him, he would have appointed Keuroghelian to the seat. But, again, the charter prevented him from acting otherwise.
“I’ll be out campaigning for [Keuroghelian] in 2014,” Weaver said. “I will endorse him. He’s shown that he deserves to be here by his performance in past elections.”
How Much Is It Going to Cost?
By Jason KUROSU
Rafi Manoukian’s recent election to the position of Glendale city treasurer left a vacancy in the five-member Glendale City Council that was filled on Tuesday night with former councilmember and mayor Frank Quintero. Quintero will be acting as interim capacity and the vacancy could be filled officially with an election next year.
According to the city charter, the council had to appoint someone to the council seat by May 27. If no one was appointed, a special election would be held to determine the new councilmember.
According to city attorney Mike Garcia, there are two upcoming elections the council could consolidate with for their special election – the November county-run election and the June 2014 statewide election. Garcia strongly recommended the June election, which according to numbers from the county would cost less than half of what consolidation with the November election would cost.
“What we were quoted from the county for consolidating in November is $692,000,” said Garcia at the council meeting. “That is not inclusive of the cost of providing translation materials. You’re looking upwards of another $100,000, putting it somewhere around $800,000.
“Our recommendation is to appoint and then consolidate with the June 2014 election. That election is estimated to cost, from the county, $220,000. Like the other figure, that doesn’t include the cost of translation services, so add another $100,000 onto that.”
Ultimately, it appears a June ’14 election would cost somewhere between $300,000 to $350,000.
But with budget sessions taking place shortly, the council felt it necessary to appoint someone as soon as possible, preferably someone familiar with Glendale’s budget, who could fill the spot with ease and was not interested in seeking election in June. The council agreed for the most part on former Glendale mayor and city councilmember Frank Quintero.
At the April 23 city council meeting, the council agreed that Quintero would be given the seat and that a consolidated election would take place in June of 2014.