Council ponders empty seat

With a current City Councilman set to become city treasurer, that leaves an open seat on the dais that could be filled by either an appointment or special election.

Both options have their drawbacks — from costs to candidate pool — and likely members of the new City Council said they'll have to weigh all sides before making a decision. However, most said Wednesday they'd like to choose an option sooner, rather than later.

"I think it's our first order of business to get a full complement of council members," said Councilman Ara Najarian, who, according to unofficial election results released Wednesday morning, received the highest number of votes.

The issue is expected to be discussed at a City Council meeting on April 16, the first time the new council will sit at the dais together.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian is set to take over as city treasurer the day before. Although he ran unopposed, he battled against a ballot measure that would have changed the position into an appointed one. About 75% of voters did not support Measure A, according to unofficial results.

If the council decides to hold a special election, the winner gets to keep the position for two years.

If council members choose an appointment, that person would be guaranteed one year on the Council. To retain the post, they would have to run again during the next election that includes Glendale voters, which could be summer 2014, said city spokesman Tom Lorenz. That term would also be one year.

To continue on the council for a full four-year term after that, the appointee would have to participate in the 2015 municipal election.

Although Najarian said he hasn't decided which way he will vote, he said he will keep three issues in mind — whether there's a pool of knowledgeable candidates for an appointment, which option will fill the seat most quickly, and a reluctance to appoint someone who could then run as an incumbent.

"I don't want to select someone and give them the crown of incumbency," Najarian said. "Gaining the mantle of incumbency is a long and cumbersome road."

But Councilman Dave Weaver, who was not up for reelection this year, said although his mind is not made up, he may factor in the cost of a special election.

"Special elections cost money and we're tight on money," Weaver said.

In 2005, Weaver— who first was elected to the council in 1997 and then lost a reelection bid, was appointed to a seat on the City Council after former Councilman Gus Gomez stepped down because he was taking a job as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Back then, though, the rules were different: An appointee could finish up the remainder of a term, rather than be limited to one year.

Zareh Sinanyan, who currently is leading for the third open seat, agreed with Weaver that money will play a factor.

"I'll go for the option that's the most efficient and cheapest for the city," Sinanyan said.

The city has yet to publish a cost analysis for either option.

It may take about two weeks before Tuesday's official vote count is released. Although city officials already tallied most absentee votes and votes cast at polling places, 3,500 late vote-by-mail and provisional ballots have yet to be counted, so there could be a shake-up of the council winners.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who received the second highest number of votes as of Wednesday, said until the city attorney lays out options for her, she can't make a decision about the open seat.

"There are so many factors that I need to know that are technical in nature," Friedman said.


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