Zizette Mullins, Tamala Takahashi and Nikki Perez were officially confirmed as the new members of the Burbank City Council at a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 13, in which the council certified these election results.
As the three are set to take on their positions, it marks the first time the Burbank City Council will consist of a majority of women. The women who have served on the council leading up to this term are Mary Lou Howard, who was the first woman to fill the roles of council member and mayor of Burbank, Mary E. Kelsey, Susan Spanos, Stacey Murphy, who resigned in 2005, Marsha Ramos, Anja Reinke, Emily Gabel-Luddy, and Sharon Springer.
The new officeholders will join Vice Mayor Konstanine Anthony and Councilmember Nick Schultz, who have both been on the council since 2020. Mayor Jess Talamantes and Councilmembers Bob Frutos and Sharon Springer are to exit the council as Mullins, Takahashi and Perez step in.
“It’s very thrilling to know that we have three women on council,” Mullins said. “We’ve always been lucky, I guess, in Burbank – we’ve had women on council, we’ve had a combination/mix, but we’ve never had the three women on council.”
While she secured her election win, Perez gained a record-breaking number of votes from locals with a total of nearly 18,000 tallies. Perez, a social worker and nonprofit manager who was born and raised in Burbank, has plans to maintain the hallmarks of the city while making moves toward progress.
“Growing up in Burbank, I have always worked towards helping my city move in a direction that keeps the Burbank we love, while opening us to a future that is more equitable and full of opportunity for ALL who call our city home,” Perez said. “I am beyond grateful to my amazing internship team and volunteers, my encouraging endorsers, my dedicated campaign manager, my loving parents and family, and my fellow Burbankians.”
Takahashi stated that she feels “proud and honored” to have been elected by the residents of Burbank. The nonprofit administrator, who serves on local boards and commissions such as the Burbank Human Relations Council, Burbank for Armenia, and the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, is optimistic that the latest changes to the council will lead to further diversity for Burbank looking ahead.
“Any time there is inclusion of new voices and different views brought to the table, it opens the door for more folks to be involved in how our community evolves,” Takahashi said. “I hope that our new council will inspire many more folks in our community to consider running for office in the future.”
With a history-making new class of council members, Perez believes that the recent Burbank election results, as well as the outcome of the 2020 election, are indicative of the city’s collective desire for leaders who come from a variety of backgrounds.
“I’m proud of the direction our city has been moving over the last two campaign cycles,” Perez said. “In 2020, we saw younger residents and young parents join the council, our first and now second renters in years to serve behind the dais, as well as increasingly diverse perspectives and outlooks on life.”
“It’s very clear to me that the people of Burbank have been asking for change and greater diversity represented in our city. I’m proud to be a part of that shift as the first indigenous and LGBTQIA+ council member,” Perez added.
Leading up to her campaign trail, Mullins has carried out a 35-year career in municipal roles, as she previously worked for the city of Glendale for 25 years and has fulfilled the duties of Burbank city clerk for a decade. After hearing the concerns of locals through campaign conversations, Mullins says that providing affordable housing, securing safety, addressing homelessness, working with the business community and boosting city of Burbank staffing levels are goals she will prioritize early on in her term.
“I want to go back to providing the basic services for the community. That’s why people move here – safety. They move here because Burbank is beautiful and clean,” Mullins said. “They can call any department and get a hold of somebody, staffing level. You don’t get a recorder that tells you, ‘Call back in 10 days,’ and nobody ever calls you back. I want to make sure that we enhance those services and even do better. But we need to find out, how do we retain and attract good-quality employees that will provide those services?”
When asked what her areas of focus will be in her legislative position, Takahashi echoed an interest in housing, business and safety. Additionally, she spoke of her intention to tackle the topics of transportation and the environment. The lattermost matter reflects a focal point of Takahashi’s candidate statement form, in which she shared that she will look to adopt “long-term policies prioritizing the health and wellbeing of our community members.”
“As we move forward, it’s important to me to look at our city in a systemic way, incorporating housing, transportation, environment, financial sustainability (especially small/micro business), and culture for a city that is safe, livable, and thriving for our current residents, our kids, and generations to come,” Takahashi said.
Lastly, Perez is on the same page in that housing and safety, as well as the environment, will be primary matters to attend to.
“As a city we are at a turning point. My colleagues and I will be responsible for finding solutions to critical challenges so my priorities will continue to be those I shared throughout the campaign: our local housing crisis, local environmental concerns, and ensuring our emergency personnel have the money and resources to keep us safe,” Perez said.
Mullins, Takahashi and Perez all revealed that they will remain ready to hear the needs of residents and will be available for open communication. In regards to the community members who voted for her, Mullins says that she “[doesn’t] forget their support for [her] campaign” and “will always listen” to their messages.
“I may not always agree on everything everyone wants you to do, but my door will always be open,” Mullins said. “I will always be accessible. If they need me, I will listen. And we’ll always do what’s in the best interest for the entire city of Burbank. ”
Voters can expect Takahashi to be “open for ideas and discussion” with the objective of advancing the city of Burbank, she explained.
“My intention is to be collaborative, sustainability-focused, and innovative as all of us work together as a community for our future,” Takahashi said. “My doors are always open for ideas and discussion about how we can improve our ‘urburban’ city, which feels like a small town while providing the high-class service and economy of a bustling city.”
Perez added, “As a social worker and a lifelong public servant, I strongly believe that local government should be accessible and responsive.”
Moreover, Mullins anticipates a harmonious collaboration between herself and all other council members that will aim to provide beneficial outcomes for Burbankers.
“I think there’s going to be a good balance with the two males and the three females. … I think it’s really important that we just find ways to work together to serve the community,” Mullins said. “I think it’s really important that, for every person who’s sitting up there on the dais, is to make sure the number one goal is to serve the community and to remember why we’re here and why we were voted in.”
Mullins, Takahashi, and Perez will be sworn in at a Burbank City Council meeting that will take place on December 19. At this time, a new vice mayor and mayor will also be selected.