All seven candidates for Glendale City Council want the same thing: a community with prosperous businesses, controls on hillside development, quality schools and safe streets.
Despite its proximity to sprawling, metropolitan Los Angeles, Glendale, with its 190,000 residents, has maintained its small-town flavor through quality-of-life initiatives. The council candidates say they want to keep it that way.
On April 1, voters will elect two candidates to the five-member council that governs one of the richest cities in Los Angeles County.
Glendale voters also will elect three school board members and three members of the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees.
In the council race, political newcomer John Robert Christopher, 51, a video post-production technician, wants to increase neighborhood councils, cut government waste, expand public transportation to Griffith Park, and reduce downtown traffic congestion and accidents by making more streets one-way.
Christopher, who has spent just $100 on his campaign, said he is appalled by candidates who spend tens of thousands of dollars to win a seat on the council.
"Every dollar spent is just another way of keeping the average person from being included in the process," he said.
Dave Wallis, 66, a businessman, engineer and former U.S. Air Force captain, said his 50-year residency qualifies him to manage Glendale's affairs. He plans to distribute city services equitably, limit hillside development and eliminate gang hangouts, loitering and vagrancy, among other initiatives.
"I believe long residency and commissioned service are assurances of my traditional ... values and fidelity," he said. "I will not sell out to developers, nor cave in on issues of ethics, safety, good management, fiscal economy or a healthful environment."
If reelected, incumbent and former Mayor Gus Gomez intends to continue his efforts to improve public safety, control hillside development and improve traffic flow.As a state deputy attorney general, Gomez, 39, said crime prevention is a priority. He wants to hire more police and firefighters.
Businessman Rick Dinger, 36, hopes to lure more jobs by making it easier for companies to do business in Glendale. He opposes tax increases and favors budgetary controls that will keep the city financially sound.
Mayor Rafi Manoukian, 41, a certified public accountant, said his voting record reflects his appreciation for quality-of-life issues: safe drinking water, traffic control and open-space preservation.
Manoukian said his open-door policy has improved relations among the diverse ethnic groups in Glendale, which is home to the highest proportion of residents of Armenian descent of any city outside of Armenia.
Flower shop owner Larry Miller, 54, said his leadership, compassion, experience and balanced approach to problem-solving will help maintain Glendale's quality of life.
Miller supports joint programs between the city and the Glendale Unified School District to maximize the efficient use of tax dollars. He also wants to promote cultural awareness among the city's ethnic communities.
Political novice Carole Sussman, 57, said her experience as head of the Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council has prepared her to protect neighborhoods, preserve hillsides and find sensible solutions to traffic problems.
Sussman, who runs a psychological counseling and consulting service, said she knows how to make tough financial decisions.
In the Glendale Community College board race, the candidates are incumbents Anita Quinonez Gabrielian, Martin Pilgreen and Robert K. Holmes, and challengers Kathleen Burke-Kelly and Ara Majarian.
The winners will most likely have to grapple with state budget cuts that could slash spending on most community college programs by 10% from the level approved last summer.
The four candidates for the Glendale Board of Education are incumbents Mary Boger, Pam Ellis and Lina May Harper, and challenger Odalis Suarez.