Glendale City Councilmember and long-time public servant, Vartan Gharpetian, is up for re-election in 2020.
Gharpetian was elected to City Council in 2015, and was voted to serve as mayor by his colleagues in 2017. But his service to Glendale extends back almost two decades – when in 2004 he was appointed to the Design Review Board, and went on to serve in over a dozen commissions, boards, and committees since.
The councilmember and his wife, Armina, have shared this passion for public service throughout their 25-year marriage. Armina is serving in her second term on the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education, currently as Vice President.
“We are able to spend the time necessary to be effective in our positions,” Gharpetian said as he reflected on the stability he and his wife established in their lives, which allows them both to pursue deeper meaning in public service. “This is a position you can spend 5 hours a week or 50 hours a week on, so it’s necessary to have the time to be effective.”
Gharpetian is in the last few months of his first term as councilmember, one in which he prioritized initiatives to increase access to affordable housing, tackled the issue of homelessness in Glendale, and aimed to improve safety for all residents.
“It’s challenging – that’s what makes it interesting,” Gharpetian said of the last five years as councilmember. “There are so many tough issues that face the community and we have to resolve issues that will improve the quality of life in Glendale.”
While serving as councilmember, Gharpetian helped Glendale move faster and further than state-wide initiatives for rent-control.
“When your rent goes up three or four times a year, it is very difficult to adjust,” Gharpetian said. “[This initiative] was basically to protect from landlords that come in and purchase a property, increase their rent, try to increase their cap, try to sell the property and move on.”
Most important to Gharpetian is the protection this offers seniors in the face of rising rent costs in the city.
“Their income plateaus,” Gharpetian said about seniors in the city. “A couple might receive $1,400 from social security and their rent is $1,600 – how are they going to live?”
“We came up with a subsidy program of three hundred dollars a month for them to spend on anything they want,” Gharpetian explained, referencing an initiative that helps 1,000 families in Glendale each month.
Although the councilmember’s re-election campaign has officially launched, he says the big push to rally voters will begin early in the new year, but emphasized the importance of the election.
“Local elections affect our lives more than Presidential elections,” Gharpetian said. “The decisions we make in Glendale affect the residents of Glendale a lot more than what is happening in Washington, for example.”
With endorsements already rolling in from big names in local politics like California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla and Speaker of the California State Aseembly, Anthony Rendon, and with more to be revealed in the new year, Gharpetian’s campaign is off to a fast start.
“I’m trying to get endorsements from different political groups and parties to show this has nothing to do with the Presidential elections,” Gharpetian said. “We want to make sure this is about people first.”
Gharpetian’s three daughters have watched him as he has found new ways to serve his community, and he hopes they’ve picked up some lessons with him along the way.
“I want them to learn how to give back to their community, be a good volunteer and help others,” Gharpetian said about his daughters. “If you can help others have a better life, you have a better life, you feel better.”