A Loud City Council Meeting Explores New District Voting Options


The Glendale City Council meeting on Tuesday started out with a philanthropic tone as the City recognized World Elder Abuse Awareness Day that is commemorated on June 15. There was a proclamation read by Mayor Dan Brotman with information shared on the prevalent extent of elder abuse.

According to the Administration for Community Living, each year an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected or exploited. Older Americans lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation – funds that could be used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food and medical care. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched at the United Nations in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization. (See the bottom of this article for a list of numbers and services available to those who experience elder abuse.)

But the meeting turned contentious once public comment began, mirroring contention found at recent Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) meetings.

Councilmember Ara Najarian shared his support for parents and their rights to choose “what is best for their child’s schooling.”

Brotman thanked Glendale Police Dept., and specifically Chief Cid, for maintaining “for the most part” a peaceful demonstration and counter demonstration at GUSD.

Councilmember Elen Asatryan spoke about the extremists affiliated with antifa and the Proud Boys who “came into our City with the intent to disrupt” and cause violence. 

She and Brotman spoke about recent acts of hate in addition to the GUSD demonstration that turned violent at last week’s school board meeting. These included the recent anti-Semitic flyers that had been distributed throughout the City, assaults on LGBTQ+ community members as well as vandalism of a vehicle that displayed an Armenian flag.

The public comment section of the meeting opened with upcoming events. Resident Jordan Henry spoke of an event on June 20 in the GUSD parking lot where parents could protest for their rights.

Brotman said that the City did not support nor endorse “this gathering and hopes parents get the facts” and not fall for the misdirection and misinformation.

Misinformation on the subject of what is being taught at GUSD schools has been at the base of a lot of the protests. GUSD Superintendent Vivian Ekchian has posted a fact sheet on the District’s website gusd.net/info that highlights the misinformation that is being promoted. Brotman also suggested that parents with concerns should speak directly with their child’s teacher, principal or with Ekchian directly to voice their concerns. Furthermore, he suggested that if parents are upset with the state laws they should reach out to their representatives.

“You have the right to protest,” he said. “If you are interested in solving problems then direct communication is best.”

This brought more ire from some in the audience, which continued throughout the public hearing portion of the meeting. Those in attendance were passionately vocal when discussion turned to the composition of council districts. This was in relation to the City’s proposed transition to district-based councilmember elections. The resolution revises the timeline for conducting public hearings, formulates proposed district maps and presents proposed ballot language for council consideration for placement of adoption of council districts on the ballot for the March 2024 General Municipal Election.

The City of Glendale is exploring its options as a proactive measure, seeing what many other cities throughout the state have been doing to avoid a potential lawsuit, citing the California Voting Rights.

The discussion was to provide outreach events to speak to the public about the districting possibilities. Some preliminary district maps were displayed reflecting possible district lines during a PowerPoint presentation.

The majority of those who spoke at the meeting were opposed to districting with many asking if the subject would first go to the public in March 2024 to determine if residents even wanted to have separate districts.

The proposal would establish six council districts and have an elected mayor; presently there are five councilmembers and a rotation-style mayorship.

Many of those who spoke did not want to see Glendale “chopped up,” stating that the way the City’s neighborhoods are laid out is not specific to individual cultures. One caller said that the concerns of those who live in north Glendale are the same concerns of those in the south section of City. Others disagreed stating that there were differences between areas of the City where residents faced different issues.

Resident Mike Mohill called into the meeting and said he was in favor of the new district proposal and, in fact, had been asking for districts for a long time. He said he had suggested maybe even having more districts than the six proposed. He also added that he did not see these districts being divided in ethnic terms but geographically – where people lived.

“People in North Glendale have different interests than South Glendale,” Mohill said.

Another speaker wanted to slow the process down to have more time for the community to share its opinions.

It was clear during the public comments portion of the meeting that LA was the shadow looming over the reason not to establish districts. Many in the audience cited issues that didn’t really have anything to do with the decision to explore the district option. There were some very angry voices among the calm.

        “We are faced with the option of either going to districts or being sued and going to districts,” Kassakhian explained. “I think that greater representation is not something we should be worried about and to use the fear tactics and demagoguery of ‘We don’t want to be corrupt like LA’ has been. Los Angeles has had corruption – absolutely – but guess what? There was corruption in this Council chambers before as well. Also I am a little confused about some of the comments tonight to whether Glendale is a great city or it’s going to hell. We have to pick one or the other. Personally I think it’s a great City and there is nothing wrong that can’t be fixed with what’s right with Glendale.”

Next week CVW will continue providing information on this meeting, which Mayor Brotman had to recess twice – once to gain control and once to clear the audience.

Below is information regarding elder abuse:

Please contact the National Center on Elder Abuse at (855) 500-3537, LA County Adult Protective Services (877) 477-3646 and Long Term Ombudsman Related Reports (800) 334-9473.