Ara was born and spent his early years in Cleveland, Ohio. His family moved to Glendale in 1980. After graduating from Occidental College with a degree in Economics, he went on to U.S.C. earning his law degree. During law school, he worked in the L.A. District Attorney’s Office as a law clerk to Steve Cooley and then in Washington, D.C. as an assistant to Congressman Carlos Moorhead. He also volunteered and presided as a judge pro tem in the L.A. Superior Court. Ara has been in the private practice of law for 35 years and operates his own law firm in Glendale.
He was elected to the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees in 2003 and then ran for a seat on the Glendale City Council – receiving the highest number of votes of all candidates. He served as Mayor of Glendale in 2007,2010, 2015 and 2019 and has served as Chairman of the Glendale Redevelopment Agency and the Glendale Housing Authority.
In 2006, Ara was elected to represent the north cities of L.A. County on the Los Angeles Metro (MTA) Board of Directors and served as the Chairman of Metro in 2009 and 2010. He will be the Metro Chair again in July of this year. In addition, he has served on the Metrolink board of Directors from 2006 to 2012 and from 2013 to present and is also Chair of Metrolink.
With his presence on these two important transportation Boards, Ara has led efforts to reduce traffic congestion and improve transit throughout the district and the region. He has brought hundreds of millions of dollars to the district by way of improvements to freeways, light rail extension along the foothill communities, and the soon to open BRT connector which will link the San Fernando Valley with the San Gabriel Valley, through North Hollywood, Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena.
Ara lives in Glendale, is married to Palmira Perez-Najarian, an Emmy award-winning journalist who is currently a news anchor in Los Angeles. Ara has two children, Alexander and Christopher.