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Budget, Safety and Hillside Building Emerge as Election Issues : City Council: Candidates' varied approaches form a wide-open debate.


GLENDALE — Debate in the Glendale City Council race has focused largely on three key issues: balancing a $288-million city budget in the face of more than $6 million in expected new state cuts, concern over public safety, and the ultimate outcome of a controversial new hillside development ordinance.

The budget, to be adopted by July 1, will determine where and how deep cuts will be made, or whether new taxes will be levied.

Alternatives being studied include reductions in capital expenditures, reduced reserve funds and further layoffs of city employees, including police and fire personnel.

Residents are increasingly concerned about public safety and how declining revenues might affect police and fire protection, which costs more than $45 million a year, while property taxes generate only $16 million in revenue.

After years of debate, the outgoing council last month adopted a stiff new hillside development ordinance in a compromise agreement on allowable density, which goes into effect April 15. The density issue, which pits the most conservative homeowner factions against the most liberal developers, could be altered by a new council majority or legally challenged by powerful developers.

Many of the issues have left voters guessing on where the candidates stand; who, or what interest or faction, supports whom, and sources of campaign financing. Many of the questions will not be answered until well after the election; financial campaign reports are expected to only dribble in to the city clerk's office until the deadline July 31.

The issues and the attendant approach of candidates have marked the 1993 City Council election as wide open for debate and unpredictable in its outcome.

For the first time, highly underfinanced candidates, with little affiliation to entrenched power groups, are considered a formidable force at the polling booth.

A record 6,000 voters out of the eligible 79,556 registered have applied for absentee ballots, frantically being sent out this week by the city clerk's office.

The high number of absentee requests could indicate unusual interest, election officials said. All absentee ballots must be returned to the city by 5 p.m. Monday in order to be counted, officials said.

Following are brief comments by council candidates, in order of their appearance on the ballot:

Bob Torres:

"It takes vision combined with action to make things happen. . . . We need to find solutions to many of our social issues: gangs, the atmosphere, seniors, homeless, day labor problems. . . .

"We are going to need all of the strength, all of the energy, all the conviction and determination that a young man can bring."

DeWitt Clinton:

"I've lived in southern Glendale all of my life, and I'm tired of the neglect this part of the city has received over the decades."

Rick Reyes:

"I look at complex issues from a common perspective. I have no special interest group outside of all of us who live and work here."

Stuart Lovi:

"I am one of the younger persons in this campaign. . . . The twentysomethings need to be heard, need to be active. . . . This is going to be our city 50 years from now. We want a chance to make those decisions."

Sheldon Baker:

"The council will face more hard choices in the next few years than at any time since the Great Depression three generations ago. Glendale needs experience, not experiments."

Linda Benjamin:

"I stand to gain nothing financially by serving our city. . . . I care about Glendale. I want to keep it safe and a wonderful place to start and raise a family; to leave a legacy to the future of our children."

John Beach:

"The other candidates say what they are going to do, but I have already done something. I am the one with the experience."

Mary Ann Plumley:

"We must work with our business community to encourage business, both old and new, large and small, to continue here or to locate here. I bring you experience."

Dick Matthews:

"We need to develop an overall, communitywide business plan, to look at our business corridors to see how we can generate more business."

John Krikorian:

"I am involved today, not yesterday, but right now, in serving your city. This election is very critical. You have an important choice to make."

Bob Yousefian:

"I am running . . . because it is about time we face the truth. The truth is this city has overgrown. . . . We spend more money than we make. We don't have enough fire and police protection. We are responsible because we didn't do anything about it."

Gordon Yanz:

"What we need now are City Council persons who have experience and a long-term proven track record for getting the job done."

David Wallis Jr.:

"I want to preserve Glendale's mountain environment and I want a stricter hillside development ordinance."

Dave Weaver:

"I want to continue to protect the hillsides from overdevelopment, to suppress crime, develop workable budgets and deal with problems both for the long term and short term. I have ideas."

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