Council members hold edge

CITY HALL — The first batch of fundraising reports filed for the April 7 election showed the City Council’s three incumbents with a significant advantage over their challengers as they head into the main stretch of the campaign.

For the fundraising period that ended Dec. 31, Councilman Bob Yousefian had the most cash on hand with $70,938. His colleagues Ara Najarian and Frank Quintero claimed $70,341 and $58,785, respectively, for their reelection campaign accounts, according to statements filed at the city clerk’s office.

They dwarfed the campaign accounts of their challengers, which at the turn of the new year had just started to climb toward $20,000.

The campaign disclosure forms, which were due Monday, covered only candidates who had raised funds before Dec. 31.

Laura Friedman, a former Design Review Board chairwoman, reported $3,681 cash in hand at year’s end, while Vartan Gharpetian, who also headed a Design Review Board, claimed $19,729 for his campaign account.

In the latter part of 2008, Najarian received a combined $15,000 from all four of the city’s employee unions, who also donated a combined $14,000 to Quintero’s reelection campaign.

None of them gave money to Yousefian.

The contributions were not part of the political endorsements the unions typically make later in the season after the list of candidates has been finalized.

The lopsided fundraising figures — a staple of Glendale elections that fueled the introduction of more restrictive campaign finance laws last year — were not unexpected, but they would likely provoke more active campaigns among the nonincumbents, some candidates said.

“It’s really expensive to get your name out there,” Friedman said. “We have to make sure we’re not buried.”

She said her fundraising had “picked up steam” since Dec. 31.

In the past two months, her campaign took in a net $22,000, Friedman said.

Many challengers have only recently begun to ramp up their fundraising efforts and so were not included in the latest round of filings.

“It’s a tough fundraising market,” said Gharpetian, who as chairman of Design Review Board No. 1 in 2007 became embroiled in a public tiff with the City Council over his involvement in a private-property-rights association.

He was on the top rung of the challenger field with a reported campaign account balance of $19,729.

Architect Aram Kazazian said he had raised only about $6,000 as of Dec. 31, but had plans for several fundraising events through March.

“[Fundraising] isn’t as good, but we have a lot of support,” he said.

Many candidates have cast wider nets for smaller donations — a model that had already emerged as a populist anthem for Gharpetian and Friedman, who had logged 67 and 32 donors, respectively, before Dec. 31.

Combined, their donor lists were nearly twice as long as the combined logs for the incumbents, who attracted larger contributions from fewer donors.

“I represent all the people in Glendale,” Gharpetian said.

The next round of reporting covers activities through Feb. 21. Until then, even seasoned incumbents have said repeatedly that they do not plan to rake in the large numbers of previous elections.

Yousefian recently held a town-hall campaign event where he told supporters to leave their wallets at home. And Najarian said he has scaled back his campaign’s budget by 20% based on the dour economic mood.

“I will be fundraising much less vigorously,” he said.


 JASON WELLS covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at jason.wells@latimes.com.

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