City Council Candidate Profile: Tamala Takahashi


Editor’s Note: myBurbank will be highlighting the upcoming election in two areas, first candidate profiles to give you some background on each candidate, and second will be a series of questions on each issue. We will run a new profile each day and the question/answer part will run after they are completed.


Where are you from originally? 

I was born in Las Vegas in 1971, while my dad was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base during the Vietnam war. When the war ended, we moved to Culver City, where my dad took on the family business, as the owner of a tire store. I grew up in that store, and my dad worked 12-14 hour days, 6 days a week. He worked hard so I could be the first in our family to receive a college degree, and I’m still the only woman in my family to earn a graduate degree. I ended up working in education, computer support, and then non profits. My brother went into the Air Force. But I still have a strong affinity for small businesses, especially family owned businesses, and the communities that they serve. 

What was the most memorable or character-building part of your upbringing?

I’ve had many character building experiences, such as working two full time jobs while going to college, living abroad, and having three wonderful kids. But there are two key events in my life that really shaped who I am. 

When I was 15, my parents divorced, at a time when it wasn’t very common. I was a latch key kid, living at my dad’s who spent most of his time at the family business, and my mom was absent. Those years mostly on my own, working as many hours as I was allowed, taught me a resilience, strength, and work ethic to be able to handle anything. I did have to get over the “I can do it all by myself” attitude I learned at that time. My later career especially, working in non-profits and in the community, has taught me a lot in that regard. Through many mistakes, I learned that working together, in collaboration with others, is the only effective way to get things done. The “I’ll do it myself” attitude is a survival technique that has its place, but working with others yields much better results. 

The other event was at the age of 43, where completely from left field, I was diagnosed with cancer. What was supposed to be an “easy” round of chemo and radiation turned into a month long touch and go hospital stay at St. Joe’s and several more months of difficult recovery. It was the most challenging thing I’ve gone through. I was also witness to others who were suffering even more than I was. It changed my attitude towards life, friends, and family. I became more patient, more appreciative, and frankly, happier. My family and close friends were amazing during this time. This difficult year was also one of the reasons I am running for office – you never know what tomorrow will bring. I decided to stop hemming and hawing, and just do it. 

How long have you been in Burbank?

21 years

What drew you to the City of Burbank?

My husband and I moved to El Cerrito (San Francisco – East Bay) when I graduated, and we had our first child while renting an apartment there. This was in 1998, and at the time it wasn’t looking good for us to buy a home, as the cost was far beyond what we could afford living month to month. Then, my husband was fortunate enough to receive a job offer at Disney, that allowed us to squeeze into a small house in Burbank. We knew nothing about Burbank or the valley, but we quickly discovered opportunities to connect with other families through Park and Rec, Burbank Adult school, and our local neighborhood. Through the years we’ve grown to love the city more and more, and build a wonderful network of friends. We had two more children, and all three grew up here. Burbank is the gem of the valley, and more than anywhere we’ve lived, it feels like home. 

What are some of your interests/hobbies?

Outside of my work with non profits and community improvement, where a lot of my interest lies, I am also an artist. I founded a fiber arts guild in Burbank in 2011, called the “Knerdy Knitters”. The group meets several times a week, offers workshops, trips and events (before COVID), and we have lots of activities for our members to improve their craft and meet other artists. I also dabble in designing and teach knitting and crochet.  

I am also an avid reader and gamer. Our kids grew up at the library and playing board games as a family, and we still play together regularly (especially now during COVID when they are all home) and give each other books as gifts. 

What motivated you to run for office?

I am not a politician and in fact, I used to have a phobia of public speaking. But, over the years, it’s become clear the need to have more diverse voices at all leadership tables, with more women and more cultural representation. I wanted to make a difference where I could, and Burbank is where I can. I know the city well, I believe we have a special community here, and I want to see it continue to be resilient and maintain our high quality of life for our current residents, for our kids, and for our kids’ kids. With my more than 10 years of experience in the non profit sector, my leadership experience, and the work I’ve done in the community, I want to roll up my sleeves even farther to serve the city that has given our family so much. 

Is there anything else you’d like Burbank residents to know about you?

I own a small business, offering non profit leadership development. Some of the trainings include public speaking and presentations, conflict resolution, consensus and collaboration building, and customer and membership engagement. 

In Burbank, I currently serve on the Infrastructure Oversight Board for the city, the Magnolia Park Merchant Association Board, the Friends of the Burbank Library Board, and the OurBurbank volunteer committee with the Public Information Office.

My three kids are 22, 19, and 16. My 22 year old will be graduating from CSUN in December with a major in Sociology and minor in Political Science. The 19 year old is studying Food Science and Agriculture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. And the 16 year old is a senior at Burroughs high. 



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