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Burbank City Council selects 8 candidates to vie for vacant seat

Burbank City Council selects 8 candidates to vie for vacant seat
The Burbank City Council will be interviewing eight candidates for the vacant seat left by the late-Councilman Will Rogers. (File Photo)

The Burbank City Council whittled down its long list of 28 candidates to eight people Thursday night who could serve out the rest of the late Councilman Will Rogers' term.

After hearing each candidate explain why they should be chosen, council members selected the people they think deserve in-depth interviews on Monday.

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The following candidates will be going on to the next round of the selection process and will be interviewed in this order: Robert S. Brody, John Bwarie, Christopher John Rizzotti, Carolyn Elizabeth Jackson, Linda Helen Muchamel, Barry Gussow, Timothy Michael Murphy and Paul Richard Herman.

The order was randomly determined during the meeting by City Clerk Zizette Mullins.

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During the upcoming special meeting on Monday, council members will ask each candidate the same five questions. Each person will have 15 minutes to respond to the questions.

When not being interviewed on Monday, candidates will be sequestered in a separate room to ensure fairness among applicants.

After the interviews are completed, each council member will pick one person they think is best suited for the position, meaning that, at most, four people could be nominated as finalists.

Once the finalists are determined, council members will deliberate and vote on a candidate to step into the vacant seat. The person selected will officially be a council member Monday night, but they will be sworn into office during a council meeting on May 22.

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Although 28 people qualified for the first round, candidate Davida Frieman withdrew her application before the meeting on Thursday.

Some candidates received multiple nominations. The candidate picked by Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, Vice Mayor Sharon Springer and Councilman Jess Talamantes was Carolyn Jackson, a retired 34-year employee with the city of Los Angeles.

Jackson has also spent about 33 years volunteering in Burbank, currently serving as a member for the city's Art in Public Places Committee and Parks and Recreation Board, as well as a board member for the nonprofit Family Promise of the Verdugos.

Another candidate who received more than one nomination — from Springer and Councilman Bob Frutos — was Paul Herman, a real estate broker in Burbank, who is currently president of the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley and a board member of Burbank Water and Power and Burbank Noon Rotary.

"It is this commitment to service that has given me some insight as to the level of dedication it takes to serve in public office," Herman said. "I know the toil and time each of you dedicate to the council. I applaud your efforts and would like to emulate your commitment to service."

Candidate Timothy Murphy also received two nominations, one from Frutos and the other from Gabel-Luddy. Spending 15 years as a Los Angeles County Superior Court commissioner and more recently as a private practice attorney, Murphy told council members that he was a good fit for the job because of his many years being involved with Burbank politics.

Additionally, Murphy was Rogers' campaign manager when he ran for office in 2015, and Murphy said he would be honored if he could finish Rogers' term.

"Anybody who knows me will tell you that I'm well-prepared, a hard worker and get along well with others," Murphy said. "I'd like to work with you. You're a good group."

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Candidate Linda Muchamel rounded out Gabel-Luddy's nominations. Muchamel, a Burbank native who is a lawyer in the city, told council members her goal is to help people in need.

Muchamel has volunteered with several nonprofits, including the Fairouzah American Assn.'s scholarship committee and Public Counsel.

"What I find most rewarding about the law is that I can volunteer and give back to the community in a unique way," she said.

Springer also nominated Robert Brody, an administrative law judge who currently is a member of the Burbank Art in Public Places Committee.

Brody said that being in his profession has trained him to weigh all the facts before he makes a decision, adding that he is not interested in rubber-stamping projects through.

"When I'm looking for an answer, I'm not just looking for a decision," he said. "I'm looking for the right decision."

Candidate John Bwarie, who was nominated by Talamantes, is a fairly new Burbank resident and said he is looking to contribute to his new community.

Bwarie, who is executive director of the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, said he is familiar with having to deal with budgets and other issues that cities, like Burbank, can face.

"You need someone who will complement your skills and expertise, and I'm the best suited to do that," he said.

Candidate Christopher Rizzotti was Talamantes' other nominee for the vacant seat. Rizzotti is a lifelong Burbank resident and currently serves on the city's Planning Board.

As such, Rizzotti said he is familiar with many of the development issues that Burbank and its residents have been facing.

"Having served on the Planning Board for five years, I bring a voting track record to the table that includes numerous significant projects and programs that have impacted our city for the better," he said.

Frutos' other nomination went to Barry Gussow, a Realtor in Burbank who currently serves on the Parks and Recreation Board.

However, Gussow has served on numerous city and nonprofit boards and commissions in the past, including the city's Traffic Commission, Family Service Agency, Burbank on Parade and Leadership Burbank.

"Through the years, I've had dealings with most of the department directors and supervisors, as well as much of the staff," Gussow said. "They know me. They know my work ethic. They know that I'm not just some resume builder."

Twitter: @acocarpio

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