Glendale: Candidates race for the green now in full swing

Glendale News Press
Published February 26, 2005

Candidates race for the green now in full swing
Council candidates raised $280,000, spent $140,000 since Jan. 1. Ara
Najarian and Vrej Agajanian collect more than $50,000 each.

By Josh Kleinbaum, News-Press and Leader

GLENDALE CITY HALL — Between television commercials and speech coaches,
campaigns for City Council, city clerk and city treasurer are beginning to
get expensive.
Candidates for City Council have raised more than $280,000 and spent more
than $140,000 since Jan. 1, kicking off the race for four available seats in
the April 5 municipal election.
Candidates for the three city offices submitted campaign finance reports to
the city this week. All reports had to be postmarked by Thursday.
Two challengers, Ara Najarian and Vrej Agajanian, lead the City Council
money race, each collecting more than $50,000 since January, according to
campaign finance statements. Mayor Bob Yousefian raised only $6,343 since
January, but collected more than $95,000 in 2004. He leads the spending
spree, having paid out $29,641 since January.
In the City Clerk race, Paulette Mardikian raised $15,489 in January, on top
of a $50,000 loan her husband gave her in January. Ardashes Kassakhian has
raised the most since January with $40,606.
“You obviously need money to get your message out, especially with a field
of 19 [candidates],” Councilman Frank Quintero said. “[The big figures]
means that there are some people that have substantial backing and are
serious candidates. But there have been lots of candidates with money that
haven’t done well. It takes more than money.”
A look at the statements shows how to run local campaigns. A major expense
is sending information to voters, which explains Yousefian’s spending spree.
He already mailed a brochure to voters, which accounted for much of his
Candidates spent thousands of dollars on lawn signs and campaign literature.
Quintero said he ordered twice as many lawn signs as he felt he needed
because of theft.
And candidates are increasingly turning to television. Three of the nine
candidates for city clerk have already spent thousands to create
“You have so many candidates running, and you really have to differentiate
yourself, and television is a good way to do that,” said Garrett Biggs, a
campaign consultant working for City Clerk candidate Kathryn Van Houten.
Van Houten’s campaign debuted its first television spot Friday evening.
Some candidates put their own money into their campaigns. Glynda Gomez, wife
of former Councilman Gus Gomez, loaned herself $26,500, more than 85% of her
total contributions. Garry Sinanian kicked $15,000 into his campaign, and
Shirley Griffin contributed $3,443 to herself.
Pauline Field raised $2,412, mostly in small donations, but still found room
to pay $1,000 to her campaign manager and business partner, Barry Allen.
Agajanian collected the most large donations, accepting 16 donations of
$1,000 or more, including four $5,000 donations.
Council candidate Steve Hedrick believes that large donations can buy
influence, so he is not accepting any donations larger than $500.
“It’s my firm belief that normal people can’t sit down and write a $5,000
check, and they should have just as much access as the people who can write
those large checks,” Hedrick said.
Quintero hasn’t raised any money since January, relying on the $43,333 he
collected in 2004. But he’s planning a March 10 fundraiser to restock his
war chest. He did contribute $100 to the campaigns of Najarian and city
clerk candidates Mardikian and Lorna Vartanian.
Mardikian found an interesting way to spend that money. She paid $100 for a
speech coach. Three City Council candidates, Joe Mandoky, Chahe Keuroghelian
and John Stevenson, and one city treasurer candidate, Phillip Kazanjian, did
not submit finance reports, City Clerk Doris Twedt said. Candidates are not
required to file reports if they have not raised money.