Council meets school board for debate

CENTRAL GLENDALE — Candidates for the City Council and school board had a chance to pose questions to each other during an election forum on Tuesday hosted by Glendale homeowners.

Among the topics they asked each other to discuss was the relationship between the two governing bodies, which has been strained at times in the past.

“We don’t need to have a difficult relationship with the city because we share the same values and the same goals,” said incumbent school board member Nayiri Nahabedian in response to one of several questions moderator and former Mayor Larry Zarian posed to various candidates related to the relationship.

Nahabedian and incumbent Mary Boger are running against challengers Jennifer Freemon, Daniel Cabrera, Todd Hunt, Vahik Satoorian, Ingrid Gunnell and Ami Fox. All but Fox were at the forum hosted by the Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council at the Central Library.

Nahabedian and other candidates said the bodies would benefit from increased communication, loosely referring to contentious statements between some members in the past.

Mayor Ara Najarian and school board President Greg Krikorian have battled in previous years over the utility rates charged to the district. Krikorian has called for a 20% rate reduction for school facilities.

When asked on Tuesday if they would support a price break, City Council candidates were split, with incumbents John Drayman and Dave Weaver saying it could result in higher rates for other customers and other candidates saying it should be considered.

“This is the taxpayer’s money, not our money,” said challenger Rafi Manoukian, a former councilman.

Boger downplayed the “occasional spats” between the council and school board, contending that on the whole, the groups already work well together.

“We are very much like an old married couple,” she said. “We have an occasional fight, but believe me, no one is looking to get a divorce.”

She cited joint-use projects at Columbus Elementary as evidence of the organizations working together to maximize local resources.

Still, other areas of potential discord were apparent at the forum when the candidates were given a chance to drill candidates vying in the other race.

When asked by school board candidate Freemon whether they would support devoting more city resources to staff Glendale Police Department officers at schools campuses, council candidates were split.

“Show me the money,” Weaver said. “The (school resource officers) were reluctantly removed. It’s a shame, but it boils down to money.”

In a similar vein, while some school board candidates said they would support opening more school district campuses for recreational activities, Boger said the district is simply tapped out.

“Parks and recreation is really your area,” she said in response to Manoukian’s question. “We’ll open up the campus. You bring the adult supervision.”

About 75 people filled the Central Library auditorium for the forum, which also included brief statements for the three candidates running for the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees — incumbents Vahe Peroomian and Tony Tartaglia, and challenger Vartan Gharpetian.

Similar to previous City Council election forums, the candidates repeatedly discussed how they would address continued multi-million budget deficits as Glendale faces stagnant revenues and rising costs.

“City staff has been working on the coming budget for months now,” said Weaver, who said staff recommendations would play a major role in how he would continue to balance budget deficits.

Self-described “city watchdog” Mike Mohill, perennial candidate Chahe Keuroghelian and City Hall newcomer Garen Mailyan are also running for the two seats in the April 5 election.

Challengers attacked the status quo, pledging to reign in employee overtime hours and address skyrocketing pension obligations.

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