First published in the May 14 print issue of the Glendale News Press.
Prospective voters got a look this week at their two possibilities for City Clerk, with both candidates appearing for a brief and civil forum to make their pitches on why they should be selected for the office.
Glendale native and educator Suzie Abajian and longtime Glendale businessman and politician Greg Krikorian are vying for the open seat in the June 7 election. Meanwhile, voters can tune into a recording of the approximately 20-minute forum, which was conducted this week in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Greater Los Angeles and the city of Glendale.
Asked about what they consider the most important function of the office to be, Krikorian said an effective city clerk has a wealth of knowledge about residents in his or her community and must serve as the connection between the city’s public functions and residents.
“The City Clerk’s office is an integral gateway to City Hall,” he said. “Having that connection to all residents is an important task of the City Clerk’s office in many ways.
“One thing I am committed to is being open to all residents of all walks of life that live in Glendale and to serve all of them,” Krikorian later added.
To that end, Krikorian said he planned to run professional development training for City Council members and commission members to help avoid any issues with the Brown Act, which governs how elected officials conduct meetings.
“As we change in times, technology is changing,” he said. “When I become City Clerk, they’ll understand that I’ll be bringing an atmosphere to protect our City Council members, our commissioners and anyone who is responsible for the Brown Act.”
Abajian emphasized the clerk’s role in ensuring that political leaders and other city officials are following state laws that govern their openness to the public make the job a vital one for residents.
“I believe it requires a person who is able to maintain the transparency and access to all sectors of our population, to be able to provide communication in different languages to connect with different constituents in our city and to ensure we are following municipal code, state laws and federal laws,” she said.
Educating fellow local officials, Abajian said, is vital to the clerk’s role.
“It is critical that the governmental entities abide by the Brown Act to ensure transparency in decision making and ensure that our public knows the business that is taking place and is done in an open manner so that the public can have input and understand the process that the City Council goes through to making decisions,” she said.
While Abajian and Krikorian would be newcomers to the City Clerk seat, neither are new to politics, specifically school boards. Abajian was elected twice to the school board in South Pasadena, most recently in 2020 when she received the most votes in the at-large contest; she resigned in 2021 after she and her family moved to Glendale. Krikorian is wrapping up a record-tying fifth term with the Glendale board, where he has represented Area B since the political body transitioned to geographical districts.
Abajian highlighted her political experience and added that her previous work in the federal program compliance office for the Orange County Department of Education has prepared her best for this role.
“I understand what it takes to manage staff and what it takes to have organizational compliance with the law and be responsible,” she said. “Those are all skills that matter in this particular position.”
Krikorian also emphasized his time with the school board and said he enrolled in training programs offered by the City Clerks Association of California this past winter to prepare for the potential role.
“I have a passion and love for Glendale. I’ve raised five of my children here,” he said. “I want to give back. I have a wealth of experience running my own business and being elected five times to the Glendale [Unified School District] Board of Education.”
On the point that only around 23% of Glendale’s registered voters have turned out for municipal elections from 2011-17, Krikorian said he would take on a role of reaching out to the different civic and cultural groups in Glendale to encourage them to participate politically. He also spoke of developing internship programs for youth and providing outreach to veterans and disabled seniors.
“Sometimes diverse organizations are scared to vote,” he said. “It’s [about] breaking those barriers, and one thing that my background brings is that welcoming approach and bringing that to City Hall. It’s the toughest thing that we’re challenged with. We need people to exercise their God-given right to vote.”
Abajian, too, pledged to seek ways of reaching out to the diverse community, calling it a “shame” that less than a quarter of the 100,000-plus registered voters cast ballots in non-presidential races.
“I think that shows a disengagement with voters and a disinterest in voting for our city officials. I think it’s really important to reach out to the community and have educational programs to enable them to understand why it is important to take part in elections,” she said. “This has to be done in conjunction with community groups and done in a linguistically and culturally responsive way because otherwise, we are not going to be able to engage different segments of our disenfranchised population.”
To view the full video, which also includes a forum with this year’s City Council candidates, visit youtube.com/watch?v=ea658IYoz-k.