Councilwoman Laura Friedman will helm the Glendale City Council for the next year after her colleagues unanimously elected her Monday as the city’s first female mayor in more than a decade.
Friedman joins the ranks of Ginger Bremberg — who served four of her 16 years in office as mayor and last filled the role from 1999 to 2000 — and Eileen Givens the only female mayors in recent decades.
“I take this new role of mayor very seriously,” Friedman said, adding that she hopes she can “help to show women and girls that there is a place for them in leadership roles.”
First elected to the City Council in 2009, Friedman has been an active supporter of increasing the use of sustainable building practices, catching up to other cities in terms of bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and ramping up the city’s arts offerings as a means of economic development.
For the past year, she served as chairwoman of the Glendale Redevelopment Agency, where she has helped to transform the San Fernando corridor into a destination for creative-arts-related industries.
She will helm the dais as the City Council continues to grapple with maintaining city services amid the protracted recession and multimillion-dollar budget deficits.
“Almost every week that went by there was a serious financial issue we were dealing with,” outgoing Mayor Ara Najarian said during his farewell address Monday.
Her appointment to mayor came with little discussion on the dais as a standing-room-only room crowd packed the City Council chambers for the reorganization meeting. The meeting concluded a contentious campaign season with a swearing-in ceremony for former Glendale Councilman Rafi Manoukian and incumbent Dave Weaver.
Before the swearing-in, outgoing City Councilman John Drayman, who lost his seat by 61 votes, thanked his colleagues and residents for their support during his four years on the dais.
“As an elected official, I have been, as each of you are, a piece of the arc of our city’s history,” he said. “It has been a strong partnership. We have seen positive movement on so many levels.”
The meeting took on a theme of promoting unity as City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian and council members alluded to ethnic divisions that were fueled in the recent campaign.
“I tried to stay above all that, and I believe the community has spoken,” Manoukian said. “And the community is saying, ‘Stop all of that and take care of the city finances.’ And that is what I will tackle.”
The City Council must work to promote togetherness among all residents of the city, Najarian added.
“We are not Armenians. We are not Latinos. We are not Koreans. We are not Filipinos. We are not Anglos,” he said. “We are all Glendalians, and that is the way we need to go forward.”
Friedman said Glendale’s diversity should be celebrated.
“As a community, we need to work to overcome prejudice,” she said. “I will do my best as mayor to foster healing and togetherness.”
Today, the newly reconstituted City Council, in their dual assignments, are scheduled to pick the new leaders of the Redevelopment Agency and Housing Authority.