With all the campaigning, the lawn signs, and the mailings along with advertising all said and done, we finally have our election results for Burbank.
In the school board race, we saw one incumbent reelected, while in the City Council, the only incumbent running was shown the door by voters.
In what some may have called an upset, incumbent Sharon Springer came in fourth of the five candidates running for three City Council seats. The first four candidates were tightly grouped together, and it was uncertain who would make the final cut until the last vote count on Saturday, November 19.
Springer only missed out on the 3rd and final seat by 495 votes.
Newcomer Nikki Perez came out on top overall with 17,877 votes (24.74%). Community activist Tamala Takahashi came in second with 15,776 votes (21.84%). Formerly Burbank elected city clerk Zizette Mullins rounded out the top three picking up 14.262 votes (19.74%).
Two seats were open in the School Board race, with Abby Pontzer Kamkar (10,681 votes, 22.11%) outdistancing incumbent Charlene Tabet, who pulled in 9,900 votes (20.49%). This was also a close election, with former School Board member Larry Applebaum coming in a close third with 9,060 votes (18.75%).
Newcomer Brian J. Smith was also close with 8,875 votes (18.18%). The other three candidates were out of the picture early.
In the race for City Clerk, Burbank Unified School District’s Kimberley Clark easily won with 14,962 Votes (53.25%) over Burbank city employee Viviana Garzon with 9,689 votes (34.49%)
Burbank City Treasurer Krystle Palmer ran unopposed for a second term as Treasurer and picked up 25,235 votes, although some voters did not vote for her, leaving their ballot blank.
While the results are still not official and as of Monday, there were still 175,050 ballots still to be counted, with about 1% belonging to voters. While the vote counts will change over the next few days, the results are now locked in.
With the results, voters have decided that they want an entirely new City Council with all five members having two or fewer years serving. Both Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz were elected in 2020.
There will be many challenges that the City Council will decide upon in the coming months and years.
City employee contracts are currently under negotiation with the pay of both police and firefighters, as well as how to retain them, at the heart of the issue. There are also several SB 35 housing projects in the pipeline, with the Council being tasked on how to get Burbank out of the mandate by providing enough housing to meet State standards.
There is also a new library/civic center in the plans, but the most challenging matter may be the unknown one of how the economy will affect the City in general as well as the budget. While the budget currently shows a surplus, much of that is because of the number of unfilled jobs in the City after a hiring freeze that had been instituted earlier.
On the School Board, there are still extreme budget problems, with the District scrambling for funding. With pandemic money and Federal Recovery money running out soon, decisions will have to be made to try and keep the District healthy.
Election results will be finalized and certified by December 8. Elected members will be sworn in Monday, December 19, at 10 am in a special meeting in the Council Chamber. At that time, a new Mayor and Vice-Mayor will be selected for 2023.
“City employee contracts are currently under negotiation with the pay of both police and firefighters, as well as how to retain them, at the heart of the issue.”
I know of zero (emphasis added) safety workers who work for Burbank who live in Burbank. Some even live out of state. Do not take my word for it, ask the City. Retaining good workers is not an issue of money because the total annual compensation for safety workers is as high as $411,635.72 plus an additional 22% is paid into CalPERS for retirement benefits. Retirement benefits represent the largest single cost item for Burbank taxpayers. “High” housing prices are cited as a reason safety workers do not live here, however, you need only review the salaries to understand that it’s simply not true.
Burbank is run by a City Manager who lives in Sun Valley, a Community Development Director who lives in Downtown Los Angeles, a City Attorney who lives in Granada Hills, a Financial Services Director who lives in Glendale, a Chief Information Officer who lives in Northridge, a Management Services Director who lives in Monrovia, a Public Works Director who lives in Agoura Hills. These are folks who have made a decision not to live in the City that puts food on the table. No shame in that, but cries about high housing costs and low pay are both not only false but have been the reason that quite a few Burbank workers earn more than California’s governor. When asked why these folks do not move here, the reason given is sometimes “high cost” yet the same people live in homes on par in value with those in Burbank. It’s about choices. We offered to help with the recruitment of new workers and we were thanked and brushed off. Just keeping this real.
“While the budget currently shows a surplus, much of that is because of the number of unfilled jobs in the City after a hiring freeze that had been instituted earlier.”
The budget surplus is the direct result of raising the sales tax from 9.5% to 10.25% and increasing fees of all kinds. 7% of your utility billing is quietly moved over to the General Fund. That’s the “in lieu transfer” that you see on the bill. You need only review the City’s budget increases to understand that we are now paying a higher percentage on purchases and services. When a City has a surplus, it should be returned to the residents in the form of tax rate cuts, not looking for more ways to spend that money.
I am very grateful for our safety workers, however, recruitment is not a problem. I offered to help and my offer was not accepted. I have consulted with some of the largest organizations in the United States. But it is confusing why some complain about recruiting when they have not explored all possible solutions.
On May 2, 2022, I had a Zoom meeting with the Assistant City Manager and the Fire Chief. Here was what was discussed: http://www.clearburbank.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/050222-Meeting.pdf
These are merely a few ideas put together by my company. We did this without cost to the City. I’m curious about which of these ideas were considered and adopted.
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