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Crowded Council Race Going in All Directions : Politics: 14 candidates are competing for three seats, and a higher than usual voter turnout is expected. The winners could chart a new course, especially on budget matters.

April 01, 1993|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GLENDALE — Candidates, like campaign signs about town, are proliferating in public and private places, preceding a hotly contested--and congested--Glendale election Tuesday.

The 14 candidates, less one dropout, have stumped hard during the two-month campaign for three open seats. The winners could signal a new direction for the five-member council, particularly in budget policy decisions.

Nine candidates are competing for three seats on the school board in a race with only one incumbent. Debate in that election has focused on school safety issues and how to deal with a growing campus population and increasing budget constraints.

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The weight of the election outcome is expected to spark an unusually high turnout at the polls--up to 24%--possibly one of the highest in decades, predicts City Clerk Aileen B. Boyle.

"There is nowhere a voter can influence his or her destiny more than with a local election," said Boyle, whose own name appears uncontested on the ballot. "The results affect you right now. Immediately.

"It will be a whole new majority," she added, referring to the council, which will be dominated by newcomers for the first time in years.

Three council incumbents--Mayor Carl Raggio, Ginger Bremberg and Dick Jutras, representing an accumulated 24 years of experience--will cast their final votes from the crescent bench next Tuesday.

Assuming new positions as senior members will be Larry Zarian, serving his second four-year term, and Eileen Givens, elected just two years ago.

The new composition of the council will throw off the traditional succession of leadership positions--although largely ceremonial--which typically rotated from Housing Authority chairman (now Givens), to Redevelopment Agency chairman (Jutras) to mayor (Raggio).

New council members will be sworn in at a special meeting April 12 at 8 p.m. at City Hall, and officers elected at the regular 2 p.m. council meeting will be sworn in April 13.

The degree of competitiveness in the local election has assumed unusual visibility in the past few weeks, with a proliferation of campaign placards and posters throughout the city. Several council members complained Tuesday that they are repulsed by the amount of campaign material that has been illegally plastered throughout the city, usually by overzealous companies hired to promote candidates.

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Boyle said the city clerk's office has been besieged by calls from irate residents and business owners over illegal signs--prohibited in public places--and that city workers are trying to remove them as quickly as possible. Candidates will be billed for the expense, she said.

However, the city is powerless to remove the many signs and posters on the sides of buildings and construction fences, City Atty. Scott H. Howard said. Signs on private property fall under the jurisdiction of a state trespassing law, he said.

Zarian and Givens complained that the extent of campaign literature has grown ugly.

"The plethora of signs in all the wrong places is disgusting," Givens said. "It leaves the city looking like a pawn shop. . . . Crummy."

Zarian suggested that the city consider adopting an ordinance to better control the proliferation of campaign literature.

"There has got to be something that we can do. It is just not right," he said.

Howard said the city's sign ordinance requires removal of all campaign literature immediately after the election, or candidates could face penalties.

But candidates have used more than signs to get their message across to voters. More than 15 public forums have been held by community groups to give election hopefuls a platform.

Almost all the candidates have appeared at most forums, where large audiences have attentively scribbled notes. More than 100 people on Tuesday, for instance, attended a buffet luncheon and forum of council and school board candidates at a church hall decorated in red, white and blue. The event was sponsored by the Glendale Coordinating Council.

Many candidates said they are planning last-minute mailings over the weekend and will be handing out brochures at supermarkets and in neighborhoods.

Only one candidate--Jerrol LeBaron, 29, a jewelry company owner whose name appears on the City Council ballot--dropped out of the race, citing personal reasons.

Candidates traditionally have competed fiercely for endorsements and campaign contributions from political action committees, including police, firefighters, city employees and GlenPAC, a consortium of business, real estate and industrial contributors. But a new power play was tossed into the political arena this year. For the first time, the Glendale Homeowners Coordinating Council, an umbrella organization of 17 homeowner groups formed in 1970, picked a recommended slate of council candidates after a lengthy debate late Monday.

"Things are different" because of the power the new council will wield, said Joe Bridges, a spokesman for the organization. He was prohibited from announcing the homeowners' selection at the City Council meeting Tuesday because the city attorney said campaigning at the official forum was inappropriate.

Homeowner representatives said late Tuesday that the group endorsed Dave Weaver, coordinating council president, who was excused during the selection deliberations; Bob Yousefian, a board member of the Northwest Glendale Homeowners Assn.; and Rick Reyes, a retired Glendale police officer and city community relations coordinator.

The Glendale Police Officers Assn. endorsed Mary Ann Plumley, a real estate agent; Reyes, and Sheldon Baker, an attorney; the Glendale Firefighters Assn. backed Reyes, Baker and Yousefian.

The Glendale City Employees Assn. is recommending John Krikorian, publisher and marketing consultant; Weaver and Dick Matthews, a retired food company executive.

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