Onnik Mehrabian, a business owner living in Glendale, remembers the first day he came to the United States from Iran with his wife Armineh in 1978.
He's even memorized the flight number, airline and exact time he arrived to Los Angeles International Airport, en route to a life in Glendale. Mehrabian was 26 and worked at a car rental agency in Iran when he emigrated.
"I couldn't sleep the first night," Mehrabian said. "I was in America, and I was so excited."
After almost 40 years as a business owner and property investor, Mehrabian now wants to fill a seat on the City Council as a way of "giving back."
Mehrabian is the current owner of Cars 911, a car dealership in the Glassell Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The same location formerly housed Glendale Kia, which he ran for more than 20 years before selling it in 2014.
Mehrabian is a member of the L.A. County Small Business Commission and is a reserve deputy sheriff with the county. He also was on Glendale's Traffic Commission for four years.
Three signature issues are front and center on Mehrabian's website and campaign mailers: government transparency, better schools and the support of local businesses.
"I would start by walking the streets to see what businesses, in my mind, are falling apart. I can give them a chance to tell me exactly what is happening, what they need and what I can do for them," Mehrabian said. "I will give them a suggestion and if I don't know how to do it, I'll ask someone [who does]."
One of Mehrabian's ideas for government accessibility is opening a separate location to help residents better understand local laws and educate them on how to approach city government with any issues they may have.
Mehrabian said he'd like to gather resources, such as "high-end friends," who could provide forms of financial aid to college freshmen in the area struggling to make it through schools.
"I'm going to ask them to give [financial aid] to kids that are living in Glendale," Mehrabian said.
Mehrabian is also advocating for more parks and open spaces.
In 2014, Mehrabian was fined $22,500 by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for failing to disclose the purchase of two large signs displayed on the Golden State (5) Freeway supporting the 2013 reelection campaign of former L.A. City Atty. Carmen Trutanich.
Mehrabian said of the fine that he was trying to support Trutanich, who is a close family friend.
Also, according to the L.A. County Assessor's office, Mehrabian hasn't paid taxes on a piece of property where a church is located in Glendale since 2014.
He said the property is being refinanced and the back taxes will be covered in "no more than a month."
Jeff Landa, firstname.lastname@example.org