First published in the July 16 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
With election results finalized, the city swore in a host of officials this week, blending a mix of familiar faces and newcomers to Glendale politics.
Dan Brotman, Elen Asatryan and Ara Najarian were each sworn in as City Council members on Tuesday. They were joined by Suzie Abajian as City Clerk and Rafi Manoukian as City Treasurer. The county had certified them as winners of their respective elections earlier this month.
Brotman, elected to his first four-year term after being elected in 2020 to serve the remainder of a vacated term, led all council candidates with 15,621 votes in the June 7 election. Asatryan, a community organizer, was elected to her first term with 13,165 votes. Najarian was elected to his record-setting fifth term on the council with 11,881 votes, attaining third place by a razor-thin 146 votes.
Following the three winners were Vrej Agajanian, then an incumbent, with 11,735 votes; Anita Quiñonez Gabrielian, with 9,859 votes; Karen Kwak, with 8,804 votes; Jordan Henry, with 7,819 votes; and Isabel Valencia-Tevanyan, with 3,070 votes.
In Brotman, an economist by trade, the council will retain a staunch advocate for environmental policies and fiscal stewardship. Asatryan, the council’s first Armenian woman, brings with her a progressive platform and a goal of unifying residents. Najarian, an attorney, will kick off his latest term as chairman of both L.A. Metro and Metrolink, positioning him to have unique influence in Southland transportation policy.
Brotman said Tuesday he would work to build on the council’s recent work to transition to electrification and renewable power generation and indicated he hoped to push the envelope further — particularly with regard to the Grayson Power Plant, which is to be revamped, and Scholl Canyon Landfill, which is slated to host a biogas power station.
“We can much better, and we have to. We have to do it with a sense of urgency,” he said. “We need to roll out these programs not at a business-as-usual pace. If we had started doing what we need to do years ago … we would not need additional gas now, but I believe there is still time and there is still a path to significantly reducing, if not eliminating, the need to invest in new gas generation.”
An active cyclist and public transit advocate, Brotman pledged to continue working to make Glendale less oriented around personal vehicles and friendlier to pedestrians. He also aims to get ahead of the unfunded pension liability issue in hopes of avoiding having to make personnel and service cuts to balance future budgets. Brotman added he wants to begin tracking how many people both live and work here, in hopes of increasing that number over time.
“Fundamental reforms are needed in our community development department,” he said. “The goal is to provide housing to meet the needs of our workforce and our retirees. We need to stop forcing people to move to remote locations and commute long distances back to jobs in Glendale.”
Brotman, poking fun at himself, added one more pet project for him on the council: “I would really like to get a jazz club in Glendale,” he said.
Asatryan, who once directed the Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America and served on the Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee, urged Glendale residents and workers to join her in “meeting hate with love” in an era when the partisan divide is so volatile.
“Let us stand as a model city for unity, recognizing that we may be strangers and we may not agree 100% of the time — no two people ever do — but we are all neighbors and that if we labeled less and talk more, we would find that we have a lot more in common than we originally thought,” she said.
As a councilwoman, Asatryan said she would push reforms to make city operations more inclusive of the city’s diverse population when planning mixed-use developments, building affordable housing, adding transit options and creating additional green spaces. She urged reforms to Glendale’s permitting process, which she said can leave homeowners in limbo for years. In particular, Asatryan pledged to be a loud voice defending South Glendale’s importance.
“I have always wondered why the grass turns into dirt as you go from north to south,” she observed, later adding, “Year after year, we’ve talked about adding green spaces for South Glendale and I think it is time for us to proactively look at purchasing land and coordinating with our state and federal officials to help bring funds to realize this.”
Najarian, who campaigned on his links to Metro and Metrolink, called it a “feather in the cap for this city and a measure of pride for all of our residents” that Glendale for the first time has a representative having chaired both agencies’ boards, let alone at the same time. He vowed to continue pushing for regional transit improvements, projects that will help connect Glendale to everywhere else. To that end, he promised a Metrolink train will depart the Larry Zarian Transportation Center to downtown L.A. every half hour, Monday through Friday.
“As much as tonight is to confirm a council seat, it should be recognized as an incredible win for Glendale by putting one of its own at the top of the two most important transit agencies in Southern California and perhaps the entire state,” he said.
Reiterating his view that Glendale is “a premier city,” Najarian said he will also continue to push for “responsible” development, keep out the marijuana industry and support the police department in reeling in traffic problems and combating crime. He said he would be “methodical and incremental” in crafting policy changes and would not “carry the torch” for revolution or partisan dogma.
“We are so much better than a Los Angeles, than a West Hollywood, than a Santa Monica, than a Burbank, than a Pasadena,” Najarian said. “You name a city, match ‘em up to Glendale — we are better. We have incredible residents who care about this city and they let us know in an instant if something is not right with their neighborhood or their municipal government.”
Abajian, an educator who was elected twice to the South Pasadena school board before relocating to Glendale last year, characterized her position as City Clerk as a conduit of political access for residents and business owners — “the purveyor of the democratic process in city government,” she said. Having received 16,456 votes, she defeated Greg Krikorian, who had served five terms on Glendale’s school board, with a 52.7% margin. Abajian said she was proud to join Asatryan in this election and pledged to be more inclusive and transparent for the residents of her hometown.
“I’m elated to see more women elected to our city government and I’m overjoyed to be part of this welcome change in our city,” she said. “I’m committed to working collaboratively with our residents to make our city government more transparent, accessible and inclusive. I want Glendale to become a more vibrant, welcoming and healthy place for the coming generations.”
Manoukian, who was re-elected City Treasurer, tipped his cap to those candidates running in competitive elections. He himself ran unopposed in this contest, but nevertheless received 24,386 votes.
“It’s difficult to put yourself out there for three months and it takes a toll on the individual, so I want to commend all the candidates who participated in the election,” Manoukian said.