Opting for continuity, Glendale voters Tuesday swept community activist Eileen Givens into office and reelected Mayor Larry Zarian for a third term in what some candidates and observers called the dirtiest City Council election in recent history.
Givens, 47, who during the nearly six-month campaign championed existing council policies and advocated little change, garnered the most votes among the eight candidates. Her win came despite a controversial effort by the conservative wing of the local Republican Party to brand her a liberal Republican who supported a Democratic agenda.
She replaces Councilman Jerold Milner, who did not seek reelection.
Zarian, 53, came in second. Both winners had comfortable leads over the remaining six candidates. They will be sworn into office at 8 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
In two other races Tuesday, four incumbents were reelected to the Glendale Board of Education and Glendale Community College Board of Trustees despite strong showings by some of their challengers.
Sharon Beauchamp and Blanch Greenwood defeated attorney Robert Burlison and congressional aide Peter Musurlian in the school board race. Rae Berry and Robert Holmes edged out challenger Don Pearson, a Glendale planning commissioner, to retain their seats on the college board.
Only 15,217 voters--20.4% of the Glendale area's 74,627 registered voters--visited polls Tuesday or sent in absentee ballots to fill two seats each on the school and community college boards and the City Council.
In the 1989 election, which fielded 13 candidates for three open City Council seats, 21.7% of the city's registered voters turned out at the polls.
Tuesday's council results were Givens, 5,216 votes or 19.6%; Zarian, 5,119 or 19.3%; former Carnation Co. Vice President Dick Matthews, 3,627 or 13.6%; realtor and Republican Party activist Mary Ann Plumley, 3,417 or 12.8%; Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce President Bob Torres, 3,253 or 12.3%; former homeowners group president Mary Ann Prelock, 2,963 or 11.2%; marketing consultant Shirley Griffin, 1,563 or 5.9%, and council gadfly John Beach, 1,425 or 5.3%.
Givens' election marked what is believed to be the first time in Glendale's history that two women will serve together on the council. Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg was elected in 1981.
"At first glance, it looks like voters were looking for people with experience, with a knowledge of city government," said Givens, hoarse and tired after a victory party for more than 300 supporters at her northwest Glendale home, where a precinct map, tally sheet and campaign signs filled her living room.
Givens, a 22-year Glendale resident, has served on the city's Civil Service Commission, the Chamber of Commerce board of directors and local school advisory committees, among other things.
The first to announce her candidacy, Givens touted herself as a "fresh new voice." But she consistently promoted the continuation of present council policies, which she regarded as successful. Givens raised at least $27,050 for her campaign, which included several mailers, phone banks and hundreds of yard signs and brochures.
Zarian said voters chose Givens and him because they were satisfied with the council's record on growth, crime, transportation and other issues.
"People here traditionally give their votes to people who are part of the system for continuity rather than rash promises that have no substance," he said late Tuesday while munching on potato chips at Givens' victory party.
Zarian nervously had awaited initial tallies at City Hall before attending his own victory party at a downtown restaurant. He then arrived at Givens' home to congratulate her.
"But," he added, "this is not a mandate."
Zarian raised at least $35,000 for his campaign, and his endorsements included the Glendale Verdugo Republican Assembly, the city firefighters association, Armenian groups and GlenPAC, a political action committee of business and real estate interests. But the incumbent failed to earn support from several city employee unions and the police officers association.
Plumley, chairwoman of the GOP Central Committee for the 41st Assembly District, was third in votes about halfway through the race but dropped to fourth by 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the final tally was completed.
Plumley's campaign was the focus of a controversy that erupted late in the election. Some candidates and observers attributed to the candidate, her staff and local Republican Party members what they characterized as a smear campaign against Givens, which included a "hit letter" mailed to about 7,000 voters late last week.
The letter accused Givens of touting herself as a Republican Party activist while actually supporting a liberal Democratic agenda, including taxpayer-funded child care and parental leave.