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Low-Key Campaigning Marks Council Race : Politics: The race has been far from volatile, with control of Glendale's growth emerging as the major issue. Eight candidates are vying for seats in the April 2 balloting.

March 21, 1991|LORI GRANGE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With less than two weeks of campaigning to go, the race for the Glendale City Council is winding up as a low-key contest characterized by fairly amicable public debate and behind-the-scenes battles for endorsements and contributions.

Control of the city's growth has emerged as the predominant issue in the April 2 election, with hillside preservation, mass transit, water conservation and crime not far behind. The campaign has been far from volatile, with most of the eight candidates promising continuity of the current council's agenda.

Two seats are open on the five-member council, which oversees a $266-million budget for a city of more than 180,000 residents. Mayor Larry Zarian is running for a third term. Councilman Jerold Milner is not seeking reelection.

In the final month of campaigning, four candidates emerged with the most money and endorsements. Zarian, Eileen Givens, Dick Matthews and Mary Ann Plumley have garnered support from Glendale's traditional political groups--the police and fire associations and GlenPAC, a political action committee of mostly business people and real estate interests. Each has raised at least $15,000 for campaign parties, mailings, buttons and literature.

The same four, in that order, led a straw poll last week of members of the Kiwanis Club. That poll, although informal, is the lone tally so far of voter sentiment, candidates agree. The city's homeowners groups do not endorse candidates.

All the candidates say they have been walking precincts, handing out brochures, telephoning voters and attending neighborhood coffee sessions. But money and manpower have differentiated the campaigns of some from others.

Mary Ann Prelock's six-person central committee meets every Monday morning to discuss strategies for the week, but a lack of money has limited widespread campaigning for the former homeowners group president. Bob Torres, a real estate analyst with only a handful of volunteers, has sought publicity through sessions with Spanish-speaking audiences.

Meanwhile, Zarian, with at least $20,000 and more than 100 volunteers, is planning a second free pancake breakfast for all comers. Givens, a community activist who has raised at least $15,000, has done two mailings, including one designed to bring in absentee ballots. Plumley, a Realtor and Republican Party activist with at least $16,000, is planning a third mass mailing.

More than a dozen forums held since the campaign officially began in January have provided little volatile debate to distinguish the candidates. Unlike candidates in the 1989 election, who loudly criticized the City Council and each other, most of this year's contenders have praised city leaders and generally promised to work harder on an already existing agenda.

"I don't think this is a contest about who has the most new and wild ideas," said Givens, who seems to be most closely aligned with the council's current policies. It's "a campaign about what makes good government, and part of good government is recognizing good ideas that already are in existence."

All the candidates say they support slow-growth measures adopted by the council last fall for residential areas. Most say they approve of the city's plan to continue a moratorium on hillside development until more stringent rules can be developed later this year.

The candidates also generally approve of a mass transit plan now being developed, and of the proposed establishment of a second redevelopment zone along San Fernando Road.

Only two candidates--Torres and Shirley Griffin, a marketing consultant and president of a citywide homeowners group--have attacked the city's current leadership.

"They're just not willing to stir the pot or rock the boat with controversial issues," Torres said. "But people are beginning to realize that perhaps the old boys' network that controls the city can be broken."

The political newcomer from Montrose has earned no endorsements or large contributions. But he has sparked the greatest disagreement by calling for a series of election reforms, including electing council members by districts, electing the mayor and limiting members to two four-year terms.

Most of the proposals have been rejected by the field, although at a recent forum, five other candidates said they would serve only two terms if elected. Zarian has been especially critical of Torres' reform proposals. He also has chastised Torres, Plumley, Matthews and John Beach, a semi-retired data processing supervisor, calling "rash" their pledges to hire more police and firefighters.

"You cannot tell people something that is undeliverable, because the people in Glendale will know," he said at a recent forum, citing budget restrictions on the city's ability to increase police and fire forces.

Following, in alphabetical order, are assessments of the eight candidates and their activities in the campaign so far:

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