City council candidates field development, pedestrian safety questions at forum

The five Glendale City Council hopefuls gathered at another candidate forum Thursday and each was asked a different question with topics ranging from public safety to bettering lines of communication between city hall and residents.

The candidates are vying for an open council seat in the June 3 election.

When asked how he would go about reducing the incidents of pedestrian traffic collisions, Vartan Gharapetian, a business owner and city commissioner, said part of the solution comes from police officers doing their job effectively as well as changing the behaviors of some drivers and pedestrians.

“How many more tickets can we issue?” he asked during the forum organized by the Women’s Civic League and held at the local Elk’s Lodge.

Gharapetian said an important step would be to put more effort toward educating the elderly — the group he considers among the most likely to be struck by a vehicle — on how to safely cross the street.

In his question about how he viewed the City Council’s relationship with the city manager, candidate Rick Barnes, a Realtor, said having a stronger channel of dialogue between residents and city officials plays an important role because they are the conduit to the city manager.

He floated the idea of bringing onboard an ombudsman whose job would be to regularly meet with local residents and inform them on ways they can contact the Council and City Hall with questions and concerns.

“We need accountability, we need accessibility, then we can address our city manager as to what the many needs of our community are,” Barnes said.

Mike Mohill was asked about the current drought in California and said he didn’t think the current council cared about the issue as evidenced by the high number of new residential developments approved by council members.

“Do you think that’s fair to the people who are already living in Glendale?” he said.

Mohill, a retired businessman, said he would be in favor of pausing development if elected.

Paula Devine was asked whether the city’s ordinance on oak trees and sycamores that established a permitting process on how to remove them should be expanded to include other kinds of trees.

She said that an expanded ordinance is not off the table for her. She also said she believes in tree preservation and would like to see more of them along Central Avenue.

“I will certainly look at it if it was a fair ordinance and if the residents were willing to along with that,” Devine, a retired educator and city commissioner, said.

Chahe Keuroghelian, a small business manager and a former city commissioner, said the city should be trying to find more ways to keep local youth busy and out of trouble.

One idea he suggested was to keep school playgrounds open past the school’s closing time.

Another suggestions was to strengthen partnerships between the city and local nonprofits to establish a strong example of the importance of civic engagement.

“Once our youth realizes and sees there is cooperation … they will eventually get involved,” Keuroghelian said.


Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.


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