With the lowest voter turnout in memory, Tuesday's municipal election in Glendale produced few surprises by returning two incumbents, Ginger Bremberg and John F. Day, to the City Council and by confirming what was widely thought to be school board President Carl Raggio's unbeatable bid for a council seat.
Bremberg, the only woman on the council, was the biggest vote-getter of the six candidates competing for three seats. She garnered 7,410 votes, or 23.7% of the total, followed by Raggio, with 6,455, or 20.7%, and Day, with 6,376, or 20.4%.
Mark Doyle, a Glendale Community College professor who was the only candidate who lives in southern Glendale, tallied 5,160 votes, 16.5% of the total. William Mulvihill, a high school teacher, received 3,083 votes, or 9.9%, and graphic artist Larry Lousen got 2,757, which was 8.8%.
Candidates and city officials blamed the voter turnout of only 15.1% on a campaign that lacked many issues or fireworks plus the fact that families are out of town during their children's spring vacation from school. City Clerk Merle Hagemeyer, who was held his post since 1976 and was reelected Tuesday without opposition, said the turnout appeared to be a record low, after turnouts of 19% in 1983 and 24% in 1981.
Bremberg, who won her first term four years ago after a defeat in 1979, called Tuesday's turnout "pitiful," even though she said it might somewhat reflect feelings that the city is so well-run that there is not much to stir voters up.
"Glendale has always been on a steady, conservative course for almost 80 years. It's a place where things get done. It's not a community noted for 'turning the rascals out' on just a whim if the job is being done." Still, she said she was "terribly disappointed" by the turnout.
Debate on Rezoning
The biggest--some candidates said only--issue in the campaign involved the arduous process now under way of rezoning the entire city so that it conforms with the 1977 General Plan. Some of the original rezoning proposals--such as making the residential pocket of the Grand Central neighborhood open to industrial development--so enraged citizens that the council dropped the ideas.
But on the current council, only Day said he wants to stop the entire rezoning process; any zoning change requires four of the five council votes and Day has been unable to even get a second to his motions.
With Mayor Carroll Parcher, a supporter of rezoning, about to retire from the council, Raggio, as the newcomer, will be a possible swing vote on rezoning. "I would hope to win him over," Day said Tuesday night.
Day, a retired banker who won his third term, said he is especially concerned that the city could face many lawsuits over the proposed rezoning. With some exceptions, much of the city is proposed for lower densities, allowing the city's current population of nearly 150,000 to rise to a maximum 200,000, contrasted with current zoning, which would allow 300,000.
However, Raggio, who is an aerospace engineering manager at the Jet Propulsion Lab and has served on the school board for 12 years, said Tuesday that he generally supports the concept of rezoning, although he wants to move more slowly.
"My gut feeling is that there is a need to do something," he said. "But that must be commensurate with continuity and comfort. Frankly, that's why people move to Glendale. They want to keep things in the comfort zone. We may have been moving awfully fast on this and may have startled them."
Raggio said his other priorities would be to tackle the downtown parking and traffic problems and to begin to investigate ways to make affordable housing available to young families. He said he would like to study the possibility of having the redevelopment agency encourage town house construction so that young people who grew up in Glendale can afford to stay in town.
With such issues in mind, Raggio said he would resign as chairman of the Verdugo Private Industry Council, an organization that works with local businessmen to develop federally funded job-training programs. Because he deals with so many local businessmen, to remain in the job could pose conflicts of interest, he said.
Most candidates and City Hall insiders said the council races turned out as expected with the incumbencies of Day and Bremberg and Raggio's name recognition being unbeatable. Even Raggio conceded that he had few doubts. "Like everyone else, I thought there were really only three people in the race," he said. "So coming in second was a little icing on the cake."
Raggio raised the most campaign funds, spending reports filed March 21 indicate. He reported that he raised more than $7,600, followed by Bremberg with $7,500 and Day with $6,800. Doyle said he had raised $1,600 but incurred a debt by spending $3,200. The other two candidates, Mulvihill and Lousen, indicated they had spent less than $500.
Final Reports Later