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Coalition Seeks to Elect Council by Districts

June 14, 1990|PHIL SNEIDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A group that wants to split Glendale into five City Council districts submitted slightly more than 11,000 signatures to the city clerk's office Monday, aiming to put the plan before voters.

Arthur Segien, chairman of the Coalition for Electoral Reform, carried a large carton filled with petitions into the clerk's office, just two days before the group's 180-day signature-gathering period expired.

"I'm glad this phase is over," said Segien, who obtained many of the signatures himself. "When we find out whether this thing is going to a vote, then we've got to do a lot of campaigning."

The coalition believes that the council, whose members are elected at large, is not responsive to residents in all parts of the city. Its measure would ask voters whether Glendale should switch to district representation, which is used in cities such as Los Angeles and Pasadena.

In such a system, a resident votes only for a candidate representing his or her district. Glendale residents now can vote for all five council members.

City Clerk Aileen B. Boyle said her staff counted 11,015 names on the petitions. The signatures are to be verified by the Los Angeles County registrar of voters office within 30 days. The registrar's staff must make certain that each signer is registered to vote in Glendale and that duplicate signatures are not counted.

For the measure to qualify for the next election in November, the petitions must have the valid signatures of 15% of the city's 69,500 registered voters--about 10,400 names, a registrar's spokeswoman said. If signatures from only 10% of the voters, or about 7,000, are valid, the measure would still qualify for the municipal ballot next April, she said.

Boyle said the county will charge Glendale $1.07 to check each signature or more than $11,000 for the entire drive.

"In a tight budget year, that seems an outrageous expense," Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg said. "I don't believe in subsidizing people who want to destroy Glendale's government."

Bremberg and other council members oppose the district representation plan, saying Glendale residents would only have one council member representing them instead of five. Opponents predict that the new system would result in private deal-making among council members, who would trade support for projects in one another's districts.

Richard Seeley, one of the leaders of the petition drive, said he was not upset about the hefty fee the city must pay to check the signatures.

"What's your basic criteria--democracy or money?" he asked. "I think the city can afford to put something on the ballot that's in the public interest."

Seeley said, "The City Council could have avoided the whole thing by just putting it directly on the ballot, which we asked them to do last December. They ignored it completely."

Boyle said similar measures calling for council districts have been defeated twice before by Glendale voters.

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