Campaigns running near empty

CITY HALL — Campaign fundraising for the City Council race is down 90% compared to 2007 — the last time there were two seats in the running — records show, a trend also seen in the races for school board and Glendale Community College trustees.

In the first seven weeks of 2011, the six candidates vying for two spots on the Glendale City Council have raised a combined $23,231, according to the first round of campaign disclosure forms filed with the City Clerk’s Office.

That contrasts sharply with the same period for the 2007 election season — when eight candidates battling for two seats on the City Council raised more than $180,000 combined, according to campaign disclosure forms.

By this time in 2007, Rafi Manoukian — the then-incumbent who lost his seat to City Councilman John Drayman — had already raised nearly $90,000. This year, as a challenger to get back on the council, Manoukian has raised roughly $4,600, records show.

“We are trying to encourage a more grassroots campaign as opposed to a fundraising campaign,” he said. “So our focus is more outreach to the community as opposed to raising funds.”

Manoukian and other candidates also attributed the anemic figures to a protracted recession, in which voters don’t necessarily have the discretionary cash to donate to a campaign.

Candidates also pointed to stricter campaign finance rules passed by the City Council in 2008. While the regulations affected a portion of the 2009 election fundraising period, the election on April 5 is the first cycle to come under the new rules from start to finish.

“We have a $1,000 limit, and you’re starting to see the effects of it to a great deal,” said incumbent City Councilman Dave Weaver, who ultimately voted to approve the stricter fundraising rules.

With roughly $9,000 raised so far, Weaver has the largest campaign chest of the six City Council candidates. Roughly two thirds of his contributions have come from individuals and businesses located outside the city of Glendale, which he said was partly because the new limits had forced him to “reach out to a wider spectrum” of potential donors.

While candidates say they rules have worked in leveling the playing field for challengers, they also expressed concern that less campaign cash means fewer signs, advertisements and mailings that traditionally remind voters to hit the polls on April 5.

“In order to get people to be reminded, you really do need to do outreach to them, and unfortunately that outreach is a lot of postage,” said Nayiri Nahabedian, who is running for her second term on the Glendale Board of Education.

She has raised about $12,000, roughly half of what she raised as a challenger in 2007, but still the highest total among the field of eight candidates this year.

Beyond capping donations, the stricter controls have likely slowed donations in general as regular contributors are more cautious, said Drayman, who as an incumbent has raised less than half of the $10,750 he raised for the same period as a challenger in 2007.

“All of the new campaign finance rules and reforms also have puzzled a lot of contributors, who aren’t really sure whether they can contribute, how much they can contribute,” Drayman said.

School board challenger Todd Hunt, who has raised just over $3,000, said the stale fundraising environment has pushed him to rely on grassroots campaigning.

“I’m trying to leverage everything that I can that has little or no cost, trying to get volunteers to make phone calls and walk precincts, trying to take advantage of e-mail and different electronic methods,” he said.

Still, as candidates grapple with how to navigate the stricter campaign finance rules, Drayman said he still sees the regulations as a plus.

“I think in the long run we are going to look back and see it as beneficial,” he said. “Right now, I think we are going through the growing pains.”


Glendale City Council

John Drayman - $4,984

Chahe Keroughelian – $0

Garen Mailyan - $4,290

Rafi Manoukian - $4,634

Mike Mohill - $400

Dave Weaver - $8,923

Glendale Unified Board of Education

Daniel Cabrera – $1,900

Ingrid Gunnell - $12,350

Jennifer Freemon - $2,442

Mary Boger - $1,323

Nayiri Nahabedian - $11,389

Todd Hunt - $3,299

Vahik Satoorian - $2,000

Ami Fox - form not available

Glendale Community College Board of Trustees

Tony Tartaglia - $99

Vartan Gharpetian - $0

Vahe Peroomian – form not available

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