Learning How Government Works

Photo by Jason KUROSU On Wednesday, students from GUSD schools Hoover, Clark, Glendale and Crescenta Valley high schools visited the Glendale City Hall and meet with city leaders including mayor Ara Najarian (above).


Local high school students met with local government officials at City Hall this Wednesday as part of the third annual Students in Government Day. Ten students from Crescenta Valley, Clark, Hoover and Glendale High Schools sat down with the Glendale City Council and 13 managers of different city departments and were able to ask questions about what those members of government do and how they attained their positions. The day familiarized the students, a handpicked group of student leaders, with the everyday operations of the city, and also allowed city managers to impart advice on how to succeed after high school and possibly get a job in government.

The students, council members and city managers sat together in the City Manager’s Conference Room and began the day with each person introducing themselves briefly. In the spirit of the day, each council and city member also noted which high school they attended in order to give the students an idea of the educational backgrounds that led the members to their current professions.

Later on, there was a question and answer segment in which the students were able to acquire more specific information from the city officials. In some ways, the event worked as a town hall meeting does, in that citizens’ concerns are voiced to officials and the officials keep the citizens informed on current events and developments.

Public Works Director Steven Zurn was asked about plans for alleviating traffic near Hoover High School. Zurn addressed the challenges of balancing popular issues such as traffic and maintaining public safety.

“It’s an ongoing challenge,” Zurn said. “We’ve made changes to traffic flows. Basically, traffic is building up because we’re trying to slow people down to keep them safe. It’s kind of a Catch-22.”

Assistant General Manager of Finance for Glendale Water and Power Bill Fox was asked about the installation of Smart Meters, new meters for measuring electricity, but also water and gas, with digital displays.

“We’re trying to modernize Water and Power,” said Fox. “The benefits of Smart Meters is that they give you more accurate information, which helps make better decisions as to spending.”

Other questions were related to the everyday challenges faced rather than new developments.

Glendale mayor Ara Najarian was present, and was asked if his personal political affiliations had any effect on his job.

“I am a registered Republican, but I might as well be a Democrat. Most congressmen and state senators are miles away from their constituents, while we are mere inches away, hearing the problems of the community. We don’t have time to carry the mantle of political parties and that’s a good thing.”

City Council Member John Drayman agreed.

“The political affiliations of the council are very diverse. If you watch a council meeting, you’d have a hard time picking out who’s from what party. It’s very nonpartisan.”

Between describing what they do for a living and explaining to the students how they got there, the city officials continually stressed staying in school and finding a field of interest.

Ara Najarian and John Drayman emphasized the importance of English classes in the way they prepare students for in-depth analysis and comprehension of written material.

Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins detailed his experiences with uncertainty about his career after graduating, before eventually finding his calling as a firefighter.

“Find your path early,” Scoggins said.

Council member Dave Weaver said simply, “Do something you’re happy doing.”

Afterwards, the students and city officials had lunch and then took a tour of City Hall, completing a thorough look into the lives of city officials and possibly, their own lives in the future.