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Ron Kaye: Watching as Sinanyan figures things out

August 24, 2013

It is well established in all times and all places that even a little power tends to corrupt, especially when the power derives from being elected to public office.

That's why it's so interesting to get to know people right after they have taken the oath of office and to check in with them periodically to see how they are handling the temptations, the pressures and the opportunities that arise when everybody wants to be your friend — especially those who want favors.

With that in mind, I called Zareh Sinanyan, the newest member of the Glendale City Council, elected back in April after a particularly rough campaign in which comments he had made several years earlier on Youtube — hate speech of a racist and homophobic nature — had come back to haunt him and would have cost him the election, were it not for the efforts of the Armenian National Committee.

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Not everybody in town wants to be Sinanyan's friend; to this day his comments still shadow him. But his colleagues on the council and the city's officials, as well as most people in the community, have welcomed him, though some have done so with a wary eye.

But no complaints have surfaced about how he has handled himself as an elected official. From perception and the observations of others, he's not a long-winded blowhard or a tricky fox or a double-crosser; but as a politician, he's got a lot to learn.

"It was very strange at the beginning," he said over coffee last week as we talked about his first four months in office and his intentions for the future.

"Everybody knows more than you, so you try to keep quiet and absorb all you can and learn. I tried to become better informed and reach out to everyone on the dais. They have been great. We have a pretty dynamic relationship together."

Watching how he handled himself in the tough debates recently on the upcoming electricity rate hikes, which will average about 30% compounded over the next five years, with most of the increase coming this year and next, it was pretty obvious that like every politician, his position had a lot to do with who brought him to the dance — in this case the Armenian National Committee, which strongly lobbied against the hike.

Sinanyan fought for 3% hikes every year and would have gone along with Frank Quintero's push for 4% a year rather than the 8%, 7%, 5%, 2% and 2% increases that were approved.

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