As I begin my term as Mayor, I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues on the Council for giving me the honor to serve our community in this role. While I feel a sense of both pride and humility, my strongest feeling is a sense of urgency. Twelve months is not a long time and there is much to be done as we tackle the important issues ahead.
Burbank’s reputation as “Media Capital of the World” was built by creativity, skill and innovation on a solid foundation of good management and sound fiscal policy. Clearly, hiring a top flight city manager and passing a balanced budget must be our top priorities in the short term and I am confident that we have the systems in place to make sound decisions regarding those issues.
As I consider my goals as Mayor over the next year, I believe we will all benefit by tapping into our Creative Community for new resources of people and ideas to help strengthen and improve our community. One of our key strengths is the level of civic participation from the many outstanding men and women serving on our boards and commissions. To take full advantage of the skills of these talented volunteers, I propose to hold three working sessions with the chairs and vice chairs of these boards and commissions to share thoughts for ways to creatively achieve the City’s broader goals for the benefit of all Burbank.
I believe the same approach can work with our colleagues and partners at the Burbank Unified School District. Therefore, my second goal will be to hold a joint School District and City Council meeting. The historically close partnership between the City and the School District has been mutually beneficial in helping build the outstanding reputation of our schools, one of our most valuable community assets. Maintaining constructive dialogue will be important for our commitment to the future of our children, who are the leaders of tomorrow.
Both of these initiatives must be undertaken in conjunction with our active engagement of the entire community through regular town hall meetings. Leaving the Council chamber and bringing the meeting to your neighborhood helps raise the awareness of new issues and challenges and ultimately benefits the Council, and the community.
I believe that an early topic for these meetings can be the opportunity we have to improve our neighborhoods through the adaptive reuse of city property. An example of this would be to consider what new community-serving uses, such as pocket parks or community gardens, could be made of Burbank Water and Power property currently used to locate electrical substations. As the electrical equipment is replaced with smaller hardware requiring less space, more open land will be freed up.
Creative thinking will help us better utilize City land. And it’s important that we engage our neighborhoods to consider new open space initiatives that will benefit the residents. It is equally important to engage our boards and commissions, and partners at Burbank Unified School District in our efforts to develop new initiatives that serve the community.
These goals represent ideas that I would like to accomplish in the coming year, but there will be no shortage of milestones marking the completion of numerous projects during that same time.
In the next few months we will open the remodeled Verdugo Aquatics Facility, and a retro-fitted and improved Northwest Library. We will also witness the final design and groundbreaking on the Johnny Carson Park project.
Those items were years in the planning. Conversely, we must be planning now for projects in the years to come. For instance, we must develop a financial plan for infrastructure, like repaving streets, and other public works projects.
None of this will be possible without our consistent and coordinated commitment to maintain a financially healthy city, now and into the future. We need both economic and administrative stability to be successful.
After so many changes during the past months, stability is returning to City Hall. And while we have much to do, we have the people and the fortitude to do it.
Seeing what we, as a city, are putting into place in terms of financial planning and cost containment, both now and in the future, makes me as proud as I can be, to be part of this great city, and confident that this city will continue to serve as a model for our region.
I would rather be a resident of Burbank than any other city in California. This does not mean what we’re facing will be easy or without discomfort. Our goal must be, to do what we can, with in our financial means to protect the services that our citizens expect and deserve. We as a council and staff will do our very best, and as Mayor, that is my commitment to you. I invite feedback from the community: everyone is encouraged to contact me with their thoughts about what’s important this year – either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 824-1594.
It’s going to be a great year!