An election framed largely by how the City Council should handle employee pensions and utility revenues saw both incumbents headed for re-election early Wednesday morning, along with a city commissioner who encountered his share of controversy on the campaign trail.
City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian also appeared to have won re-election with a commanding lead over his sole challenger.
With all precincts reporting, City Council members Laura Friedman and Ara Najarian appeared to hold on firmly to their seats after campaigns in which both preached a measured prescription of continuing to exert downward pressure on unions.
While it would take days to count provisional and vote-by-mail ballots handed in at polling stations — the total of which was not immediately available — Najarian had 8,615 votes to claim the No. 1 spot, according to unofficial returns reported early Wednesday morning.
The vote totals were expected to change somewhat after officials counted a yet-to-be-determined number of provisional and hand-in vote-by-mail ballots Wednesday morning.
Friedman had 6,888 votes, while Zareh Sinanyan — who gained unwanted attention for controversial, ethnically charged comments he allegedly posted online — claimed 6,122 votes.
Chahe Keuroghelian, meanwhile, had 5,860 votes and Sam Engel had 4,362.
The showing for Najarian and Friedman also came after they touted the steps they had taken at City Hall in recent years to rein in pension costs amid attacks from challengers that they weren’t doing nearly enough.
“I think my message resounded,” Najarian said as he watched the results roll in at his election party. “I ran a very positive campaign.”
Longtime City Council critics and repeat challengers Herbert Molano, Mike Mohill and Aram Kazazian failed to gain traction with their messages of uncontrolled spending at City Hall and unfair burdens on taxpayers, finishing in the lower range of the field.
Newcomers Roland Kedikian, Jefferson Black and Rick Barnes also failed to resonate with voters, as did two former longtime city employees — Engel, former administrator of the city’s Neighborhood Services division, and Edith Fuentes, a former zoning administrator.
Engel pointed to his years of public service in Glendale as a valuable asset in dealing with city costs and challenge, and Fuentes pledged to be a voice of the people, but neither of those tactics appeared to curry favor with voters.
Meanwhile Kassakhian appeared to have clinched re-election with 10,335 votes, compared to 6,343 for his challenger, Stephanie Landregan.
Initial overall voter turnout was pegged at 18.2% with 20,343 votes cast.