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Glendale city treasurer candidate may lose even with a win

April 02, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Come next election, Glendale voters will be choosing a new city treasurer. But they may also have to decide whether they want to keep voting for that position or turn it into an appointment made by the city manager.

In recent years, Glendale has had a tough time attracting candidates to run for the position. Now that there’s a possibility people may run for a position that ceases to exist, some community leaders are wondering, “Who’s going to run?”

“If it’s been difficult to attract qualified candidates before, I’m not sure how this helps,” said City Treasurer Ron Borucki, who is in favor of an appointed treasurer.

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The Glendale City Council voted 3-2 this week to get the ball rolling on a ballot measure that would ask voters if they’d prefer an appointed treasurer to an elected one, with Councilmen Ara Najarian and Rafi Manoukian dissenting.

Proponents of the measure say all elections are risky.

“Cut the umbilical cord. It’s an election, win or lose,” said Councilman Dave Weaver, who spearheaded putting the measure on the April 2013 ballot.

The council must still vote on a final resolution, which will be written between now and the end of the year, said City Atty. Mike Garcia. Putting the measure on the ballot could cost between $26,000 and $47,000, according to a city report.

Of the 482 cities in the state, 143, including neighboring Burbank, elect their treasurers.

Council members who want the city manager to appoint a treasurer, much like other department heads, said the job takes banking and investing expertise. They don’t want someone who may be good at getting elected, but fails at investing, to be responsible for the city’s $400-million investment portfolio.

But opponents say that’s not giving voters enough credit.

“I believe that the voters know what they’re doing,” said Manoukian, who has run unsuccessfully for treasurer.

A group of community leaders selected to make recommendations about changes to the city charter about 10 years ago decided against an appointed treasurer in favor of keeping the power in the hands of the electorate. Since voters elected qualified candidates in the past, the commission didn’t see a need for change.

“The thought was, ‘If something isn’t broken, why fix it?’” said Eileen Givens, a commissioner and former council member.

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