CITY HALL — The reelection of City Councilmen John Drayman and Dave Weaver was thrown into doubt on Tuesday, with challenger Rafi Manoukian taking the top spot after the unofficial tally from all 57 precincts was announced.
The results could take weeks to be finalized. The gap between Manoukian and Drayman was 162 votes, but there were roughly 3,000 ballots still be uncounted, including provisional and mail-ins that were turned in at the polls, according to the city clerk’s office. The ballots still had to be verified.
It was a major comeback for Manoukian, who lost to Drayman in 2007 and had a failed run at the city treasurer’s office two years later.
He campaigned on fiscal conservatism while touting his accounting background.
“It’s definitely a positive for the campaign, and I think everybody’s excited with the turnout so far,” Manoukian said, shortly after midnight from his campaign headquarters, adding that he took a different approach compared to his unsuccessful 2007 campaign. “It was a more grassroots effort and we tried to reach out to as many voters as we could.”
For the incumbents, the waiting would continue to for days until the vote was official.
“It’s a very close race, and obviously I would have liked to have had the numbers come out differently,” Drayman said shortly before midnight on Tuesday. “But it’s a very close race. Both Rafi and Dave ran excellent campaigns and I complement them, especially Rafi. And we’ll see.”
According to the unofficial tally, Rafi garnered 24.6% vote, Weaver 24.2% and Drayman 24.1%.
Gathered with supporters at Joselito’s restaurant on Honolulu Avenue in Montrose, Weaver described the campaign as the dirtiest he’d seen in Glendale, but said he was eager to continue business at City Hall, which is grappling with an estimated $10-million budget gap.
“I just hope I win on what I’ve done for 14 years,” Weaver said.
City Hall gadfly Mike Mohill, perennial candidate Chahe Keuroghelian and City Hall newcomer Garen Mailyan were unable to gain much momentum at the polls.
In this first full election cycle to fall under stricter campaign finance regulations adopted by the City Council in 2008, campaign cash plummeted compared to previous years.
As of the latest campaign filings, Manoukian had raised $32,156 to amass the largest campaign war chest in the City Council race. But that amount is nearly 75% less than the roughly $121,000 he raised for the same period in his 2007 campaign.
The anemic fundraising hampered the ability of candidates to pay for advertisements and thousands of mailers that have traditionally clogged mailboxes in the months leading up to Election Day.
Candidates said that instead of a blizzard of campaign materials, they were relying on a more grassroots approach to get their messages out.
“We’ve rung every doorbell in the city,” Drayman said as he was surrounded by supporters gathered at the lobby of the Glendale Hilton to watch the results roll in.
Throughout the campaign, challengers criticized on the city’s growing pension obligations while Drayman and Weaver countered that they have been tough with the city’s four employee unions in recent years, securing millions in concessions.
Mohill, meanwhile, was especially critical, repeatedly seizing on renovations performed on Drayman’s condominium by subcontractors of Advanced Development & Investment Inc. — an affordable housing developer with several Glendale projects — and Weaver’s $9,000-fine in 2009 from the Fair Political Practices Commission for violating state campaign finance law.
The campaign became contentious in its final month after Drayman went public during a City Council meeting with Mohill’s decades-old misdemeanor lewd conduct arrests and a more recent trespassing citation.
Mohill in turn revealed that he is gay, a secret he said he has kept from everyone but his wife for decades, and accused Drayman of outing his sexual orientation.
Despite the rough campaign, Mohill said he stood by his decision to run for office.
“No regrets,” he said. “When you’ve been a self-appointed gadfly and a self-appointed city watchdog, and you’re complaining for four years, what’s the next step? You run for office. Otherwise, close your mouth and go home.”
FOR THE RECORD: This amends an earlier version to correct the vote difference between Manoukian and Drayman, which stands at 162. All vote tallies are preliminary.