Glendale’s ongoing traffic-safety issues and the potential for an ethics ordinance took center stage Monday at the City Council election forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Former Glendale Mayor Glendale Mayor Rafi Manoukian, self described “city watchdog” Mike Mohill, perennial candidate Chahe Keuroghelian and City Hall newcomer Garen Mailyan are challenging incumbents Dave Weaver and John Drayman for two seats in the April 5 election.
Roughly 50 people filled the City Council Chambers Monday evening for the forum, which was hosted by the League of Women Voters Glendale/Burbank and moderated by Chris Carson, the league’s co-president. All candidates except for Mailyan were there to answer a variety of questions submitted by residents at the forum and through the organization’s Web site.
On traffic flow and enforcement, Manoukian suggested increased police presence and public-education campaigns, but also encouraged employers to vary work times to decrease rush-hour traffic.
Drayman also pointed to completing implementation of the downtown mobility plan.
But Weaver was more skeptical, saying that there was no “magic bullet” for the city’s traffic problems, although he suggested installing additional red-light cameras.
“People just don’t care,” he said. “They’re going to break the law no matter what laws you put in.”
Most candidates said they would support a code of ethics for city employees and elected officials.
“This would benefit both elected officials and the public as well,” Drayman said.
Mohill said ethics rules are especially important in light of the thousands of dollars donated to council members by subcontractors of affordable-housing developer Advanced Development & Investment Inc., which is under federal investigation for allegedly defrauding cities across the state of millions of dollars. He also called out Weaver’s $9,000 fine in 2009 from the Fair Political Practices Commission for violating state campaign finance laws.
“The public trust has been lost in this election and I’d like to restore it,” Mohill said.
Similar to other candidate forums held this season, the candidates zeroed in on their plans to address the city’s budget gap and the ongoing threat of state budget cuts.
Glendale officials are bracing for a General Fund budget shortfall of $10 million for next fiscal year — the fourth consecutive year of multi-million-dollar deficits.
The challengers railed against the city’s rising pension obligations, utility rates and what they said is an excessive number of manager-level employees.
“We now have a top-heavy bureaucracy that we must fix to restore a prudent budget process,” Keuroghelian said.
Incumbents Drayman and Weaver pointed to their tough stances in recent years with the city’s four employee unions, securing millions in concessions and instituting a two-tier retirement system with lower benefits for new hires, which Drayman called “an investment in the future.”
In his closing statement, Weaver urged residents to go to the polls on April 5, contending an unusually quiet campaign season has left many unaware of the election.
“You have a right to vote,” he said. “Exercise it.”
Monday's forum will be rebroadcast on GTV6. For the channel’s schedule, visit http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/gtv6/schedule.asp.