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Voters Opt for the Familiar in Balloting for Council

April 06, 1989|SANTIAGO O'DONNELL | Times Staff Writer

In the most widely contested Glendale municipal elections since before World II, voters opted for continuity Tuesday by returning two incumbents, Carl Raggio and Ginger Bremberg, and electing civic leader Dick Jutras, who has helped shape the present council's zoning and transportation policies.

Raggio finished first among the 13 candidates competing for three seats. He received 7,410 votes, 18.5% of the total, followed by Bremberg with 6,983 votes for 16.5%, and then Jutras, with 5,445 votes and 12.9%.

Dick Matthews, a Carnation Corp. vice president of communication who lost a tight race for a Glendale Unified School District board seat in 1981, was edged out again Tuesday, receiving 4,128 votes, or 9.8% of the total. Attorney Shirley Griffin, the only representative of a homeowner's group in the race, received 2,845 votes, or 6.8%.

Amid the interest generated by the council's growth control policies in the city's increasingly crowded neighborhoods, the voter turnout nearly doubled from a low of 11.9% in 1987 to 21.7% this year.

But most challengers were unable to separate themselves from the pack. As a result, they divided what appeared to be a protest vote by residents who oppose the current City Council, which both imposed a moratorium on apartment building and encouraged downtown commercial development. Raggio, Bremberg and Jutras defended these policies throughout the campaign.

However, the election's results showed a clear split, with the incumbents retaining their traditional power base, and the new voters opting for change. Bremberg, for example, garnered 417 votes less than she did in 1985. Her percentage of the total vote dipped from 23.7% to 16.5%. Raggio improved on his 1985 voting total by 1,328 votes, but his share of the vote also fell, from 20.7% to 18.5%.

Retired sheriff's deputy Ed Dorris received 2,424 votes, or 6%; attorney Nida Solana Brown tallied 2,411 votes, or 5.7%; real estate broker Joe Ayvazi obtained 2,348 votes, or 5.6%; forensic laboratory technician Gary Siglar received 2,138, or 5.0%; homemaker Robin Westmiller tallied 1,637 votes, or 3.8%; public relations executive Berdj Karapetian obtained 1,479 votes, or 3.4%; landscaper Richard Seeley tallied 1,313 votes, or 3.1%, and architect Richard Diradourian received 1,191 votes, or 2.8%.

Bremberg, who won her third term, said she was pleased with the voter turnout. "It shows that people are concerned with the city's direction, and it's a confirmation that we're on the right track."

Raggio, an aerospace engineer who was reelected for the first time, said: "The contrast with the challengers was very distinctive. We have a positive view of the city. We are proud of Glendale and want to add to it. The challengers didn't exhibit that pride and didn't offer a great deal of solutions as to where the city should go, but chose to criticize instead."

Jutras, who was endorsed by Raggio midway through the race, said he was elected because voters realized that he was the most experienced challenger, and because he was the only challenger to run a "positive" campaign.

The biggest 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--and its projected population cap of 200,000 to 230,000--as well as beefing up the current zoning code to force developers into building smaller, higher quality buildings. The present population is about 165,000.

All three of Tuesday's winners have said that they support a proposed ordinance to require higher aesthetic standards from developers, and that they are eager to begin work on a new ordinance to downzone Glendale--planning for decreased population density--for the second time since 1983.

Ayvazi raised the most campaign funds, according to spending reports filed February 18. Ayvazi reported that he raised $16,824, followed by Jutras with $15,702.00, Bremberg with $12,936 and Raggio $6,736.

Final Reports

Final reports, however, are not required until July 31, when some of the top spenders may show they spent more than $25,000 in the race, they say.

Ayvazi and Karapetian, who borrowed heavily to finance his effort, lost despite matching the winners in campaign spending and sophistication. The other challengers spent considerably less and relied more on grass-roots campaigns.

Ayvazi, who said he outspent the incumbents, early in the race was considered a strong challenger for the third spot behind Raggio and Bremberg. In February, he beat out Jutras for the local Republican Party endorsement, and then was endorsed by the Glendale-based Armenian National Committee.

Karapetian, a former legislative aide in Washington and Sacramento, was the only candidate to establish a campaign office. From there, nearly 20 volunteers worked almost nonstop, calling registered voters in the last few days before the elections.

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