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Hiking with the mayor

Karen S. Kim

NORTHEAST GLENDALE -- It’s not often that constituents have the

opportunity to see Glendale Mayor Rafi Manoukian out of the suits he

traditionally wears behind the council dais.

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But Sunday morning, more than a dozen Glendale and Burbank residents

saw Manoukian clad in jeans, sneakers, a baseball cap and a T-shirt,

ready for the Verdugo Hills Sierra Club’s “Hike with your City Council

member” activity.

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“I think it’s very good that he’s among us,” said Burbank resident

Marine Hergelian. “I think this way, everyone has a chance to speak with

him and enjoy the day out in nature. It gives us a chance to share ideas,

thoughts and learn things.”

The group met at the top of Sunshine Drive and hiked to the Rossmoyne

reservoir in the Verdugo Mountains. There, hikers and Manoukian shared a

meal together, munching on dried fruit, bread, cheese and drinking coffee

and tea.

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Most of the hikers were content to chat socially with the mayor, with

conversations ranging from Manoukian’s life back in Lebanon to hunting

laws in Glendale to city water to where Manoukian likes to eat shish

kebabs.

“At my mother-in-law’s,” was Manoukian’s answer.

Glendale resident Grace Yim said she she appreciated the mayor’s

attendance.

“We’re able to meet him, and if you have an issue, you can raise it,

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and it’s kind of informal,” she said.

Manoukian agreed that the informal nature of his presence made it

easier for him to really get to know his constituents.

“I always feel more comfortable this way, personally,” he said. “It’s

easier to connect to people. People feel more comfortable in this setting

than when you’re at the council dais. There are no time limits, no

cameras. So people feel more at ease to discuss things they might not

feel comfortable saying in front of the cameras.”

Garen Yegparian, a Sierra Club member who led the hike, said bringing

constituents and elected officials together was only part of the event’s

purpose.

“We want to take people out to see what’s out there because then they

appreciate it and are more inclined to protect it, and our elected

officials are clearly the ones making those decisions,” he said.

The group’s next event is a tour of the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar.

For more information, e-mail delphinetr@aol.com.


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