At least two people have decided to run for a City Council seat in the special June election, while others who made an unsuccessful attempt in April plan to sit this round out with an eye toward the general municipal election.
Chahe Keuroghelian and Vartan Gharpetian confirmed this week that they plan to run after announcing their intent on Armenian television channels.
Both said they’re prepared for the long haul that will come with the upcoming election cycle, since whoever wins in June will have to run again 10 months later to grab a four-year term.
The open position is a result of some musical chairs that took place during the last election in April when former Councilman Rafi Manoukian won the City Treasurer post, leaving his spot on the council open. At the time, the sitting council decided to appoint outgoing mayor Frank Quintero to take over for Manoukian until an election could be held in June.
But due to city rules, the winner of the June election has to run again in April to get a full four-year term.
“I like challenges and I think I take on challenges head on,” Gharpetian said.
While candidates can’t officially try to get on the ballot yet — which requires 100 signatures from residents — they can take initial steps to form a campaign. Keuroghelian is already bringing his team from nine months ago back together and Gharpetian is spreading the word about his intent.
Keuroghelian lost in April when there were three seats available by just 356 votes and he contends that he should have been appointed to take Manoukian’s place. It’s a move — appointing the fourth top vote-getter — made by a former council in the past.
“Hopefully, this election will undo the mistake that was made,” Keuroghelian said.
Meanwhile, some candidates from the last elections aren’t keen on running twice in less than a year to get a full term. The city’s former neighborhood services administrator, Sam Engel, who came in fifth in April, said he doesn’t plan to run but he is looking at the next general municipal election as a possibility.
“I don’t want to put a full effort into a candidacy and then have to do it again six months later,” he said. “Anybody who’s running this time has money to throw away.”
Edith Fuentes, also a former city employee, and Herbert Molano, a long-time city hall critic, are on the same page.
“I think it is just too soon, too close” to the last election, Fuentes said.
Molano said he’s leaning toward not running, but he hasn’t fully decided yet.
“Running for office is a very expensive proposition that without really having close to $75,000 to $100,000, it becomes very difficult to win,” Molano said.
The three winners in April — Ara Najarian, Laura Friedman and Zareh Sinanyan — all had campaign war chests of more than $55,000. Sinanyan raked in the most, about $93,000.
Tentative candidates can’t formalize their intent to run until the city officially declares the election will occur. Although the city must hold the election according to city rules, the council has yet to authorize it and that may not occur until the end of next month or later, said City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian.
The council may wait to call the election until after the body makes a decision about proposed tax measures that may also end up on the June ballot. The council doesn’t plan to decide on the tax measures until February or March.
Once an election is called, candidates must pull the paperwork necessary to get on the ballot.