The campaign for the Glendale City Council turned more intense and at times more hostile this week, with candidates beginning their final drive in anticipation of the April 4 election, in which an unprecedented 13 contenders are vying for three seats.
On Saturday, the candidates addressed a senior citizens umbrella organization, a forum that contenders consider crucial because senior citizens accounted for about 50% of the vote in the last election.
On Monday, a group of long-established political figures announced the formation of a new political action committee to back the two incumbents and Richard Jutras, their choice to replace outgoing Councilman John F. Day.
On Tuesday afternoon, a challenger took her campaign to the City Council. Candidate Nida Solana Brown presented her platform and chastised the incumbents. At the same meeting, a representative of a developers group accused the council of manipulating the city’s apartment building moratorium to aid the incumbents’ reelection campaigns.
On Tuesday evening, four candidates exchanged charges and countercharges before one of city’s largest and most powerful homeowners groups, the Chevy Chase Canyon Estates Assn., considered the home turf of incumbent Ginger Bremberg, who lives in the canyon. The association in the past has also been a strong backer of incumbent Mayor Carl Raggio.
Bremberg issued the first attack at the homeowners forum, lashing out at Brown for sending a letter to supporters urging them to vote only for Brown, instead of voting for three candidates.
“I find this outrageous and reprehensible,” Bremberg told an audience of 200, the campaign’s largest crowd.
“She’s obviously on an ego trip,” said Bremberg, who introduced herself as a Chevy Chase Canyon resident and the councilwoman “who’s been fighting for the Chevy Chase Canyon Estates Assn. for the past eight years.”
Brown responded by saying “the incumbents are slipping, that’s why they’re getting dirty,” attacking Brown personally because they are losing support.
Shirley Griffin followed by blasting the incumbents and Jutras for attending a “lovely wine-and-cheese fund-raiser” at the home of developer Ken Doty, who she said was committed to developing the city’s hills. She denounced the “hillside hackers” and “guerrilla developers” who she said are ready to “rape” the hillsides with the incumbents’ tacit approval. The audience exploded in applause.
Robin Westmiller promised that, if elected, she would call for the immediate resignation of City Atty. Frank R. Manzano, Senior Assistant City Atty. Scott H. Howard and Zoning Administrator Regina Good. “I’ve seen them at work and they’re an embarrassment,” she said.
However, the assaults apparently failed to dent much of the group’s traditional support for incumbents.
The group’s senior director, Michael Dickerson, predicted that while many of the 4,000 canyon residents are growing increasingly concerned about the city’s rapid growth, the incumbents will retain the vote of a great majority of homeowner association members.
“If you drive around the canyon, most of the signs on the yards support the incumbents,” he said. However, he warned, if the current pace of development continues, “it will be very difficult” for incumbents to retain the homeowners’ support.
A measure of the importance that Glendale politicians place on the powerful homeowners group is that council members Jerold Milner and Larry Zarian attended the forum at the Chevy Chase Country Club. Their seats are not up for reelection until 1991.
On Saturday, the candidates appeared before a forum sponsored by the Greater Glendale Council on Aging, which produced few surprises and no clear-cut winners.
Richard Matthews emerged as a crowd favorite among the 150 in attendance. His strong commitment to the creation of a senior citizens commission and his avowed concern for the elderly--"ever since as a little boy my father told me to give up my seat in the bus for an older person"--drew the biggest applause of the day.
Brown, voicing views supported by most of the challengers, said there is no question that the elderly need more housing, transportation and their own commission, but they are low on the City Council’s priority list. “The solutions are there and everybody knows them,” Brown said. “The council just needs to provide the necessary funding.”
Bremberg answered that while she would like to satisfy every request made by Glendale’s elderly, to do so, the council would have to “sacrifice some of the fine services” it proudly provides to the city.
Bremberg was the only candidate to oppose creation of a senior citizens commission. She argued that adding such a bureaucracy to the city government would simply add red tape to an otherwise fluid relationship between the Council on Aging and the City Council.
While the remaining 10 candidates enthusiastically supported creation of a commission, Raggio and Jutras offered only lukewarm support. They said they thought that it was a bad idea, but would support it because the elderly wanted it.
The Greater Glendale Council on Aging represents 36 senior citizen groups in the city, spokesman Charles Cressy said. While the elderly make up close to 50,000 of the city’s population of about 165,000, they accounted for about half of the 11% voter turnout in the last municipal election, Cressy said, citing statistics gathered by his group.
“Their vote is crucial in every election,” Raggio said. “Senior citizens are avid voters.”
However, the council will make no attempt to steer the senior citizen vote toward one candidate or another, Cressy said.
On Monday the incumbents were endorsed by a group of influential friends, but challenger Joe Ayvazi immediately questioned the motives behind the endorsement. The group of longtime business leaders and community activists, led by former mayors Bob Garcin and Jim Perkins, announced the formation of Glendale Citizens for Quality of Life, a political action committee to support Raggio, Bremberg and Jutras.
“We represent people who have a long-term involvement in city affairs,” said the group’s spokesman, Natt Read. “Our group likes the way the city has been governed so far, and we feel that the incumbents and Jutras offer us the best chance of continuing the present leadership’s policies.”
The group held a kickoff press conference Wednesday morning at the Brand Library, a symbol of traditional Glendale. About a dozen or so community leaders and former city government officials held a sign that read, “Experience, not Experiments.”
“We are Glendale,” Garcin told reporters. “And we want to keep Glendale the way it is.”
Committee members would not comment on how much money they have raised, how they intend to spend it or what will happen to the group after the election. “All I know is that we will send a mailer in support of our candidates, but it won’t be citywide.” He would not say what areas the mailer would target.
Ayvazi questioned the motives behind the last-minute formation of the political action committee. “As far as I’m concerned, it is an organized effort to keep things status quo,” he said.
“They are decision-makers involved in running the city who want to remain in the decision-making process,” even though they no longer hold elective office, Ayvazi said.
At the City Council meeting, Raggio and Bremberg were the targets of criticism by Brown and Haik Vartanian, spokesman for the Fair Growth Coalition, a group of developers
Brown said the incumbents were “out of touch with what Glendale wants,” and urged that they pay attention to many issues, including the needs of senior citizens and the budget for the city’s anti-graffiti campaign.
Vartanian said his coalition would not comment on the proposed zoning changes the city is evaluating because it is “tired of political games and using the coalition as a target for your political attacks.”
In February, the Fair Growth Coalition presented a detailed analysis of the proposed zoning changes, which was largely ignored by the City Council, the council’s planning staff and the Planning Commission until Raggio last week invited Vartanian’s group to make a presentation to the council next week, just a week before the elections.
At first, Vartanian welcomed the mayor’s invitation, but later changed his mind. Raggio responded to the developer’s statement by saying that Vartanian’s announcement was a political ploy to damage the incumbents’ campaigns.
In a related campaign development, GlenPac, the city’s oldest political action committee, Wednesday disclosed campaign contributions of $2,500 each to Raggio and Jutras and $1,000 each to challengers Ed Dorris, Ayvazi and Matthews.
The Tri-City Restaurant Assn. (formerly the Glendale Restaurant Assn.) announced Wednesday that it was endorsing the incumbents and Jutras. “We feel they are the more stable and experienced candidates,” said spokesman Frank DeSantis. “They have done a lot for the restaurant community in Glendale.”