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Burbank Council Candidate: Elise Stearns-Niesen

At a Glance:

Age: 48
Occupation:
Photographer, Unique Vintage
Political affiliation: Republican
Education: Phillips Graduate Institute -- Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Therapy
UCLA -- Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology
L.A. Valley College

Online resources:
Campaign website
Facebook page
Twitter

Questionnaire:

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Have you run for office previously?

Yes, I ran for City Council in 2009 and got through the primary but did not win in the general election.

Why are you running?

I am running for City Council because I love Burbank and wish to serve my community. I can represent the citizens of Burbank openly, honestly and with common sense.  I wish to preserve the small town feel that still exists in Burbank and continue to make it a great place to live, work, build a business, raise a family, exercise and retire in.

What is the most important issue facing the city?

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There are three equal, important issues facing our city:

Public Safety:
I am concerned the laws recently passed in the State of California may cause an influx of crime in Burbank.  We are budgeted for far less police officers than we were 10 years ago, and I'm concerned that we are only budgeted for only one School Resource Officer.  I would look at all areas of the budget to try to figure out new ways to better fund our police department.
 
Drought and water management: 
The drought has major implications for our city. I'm afraid if we don't get a significant amount of rain, that a year from now we will be worrying less about water for our lawns, and more about where to get water for our showers.  I will keep the conversation alive and current for any alternative ways to bring water to Burbank (more storage, desalination, different water sources).  This should be on the forefront of the minds of our City Council.

Quality of Life: 
I love the small town feel that Burbank still has and I want to preserve that quaintness, especially in our neighborhoods.  I think by repairing our streets and other infrastructure needs, easing traffic, being cautious about businesses sprouting up in our residential neighborhoods, and starting a fair review of our mansionization polices, we can further protect our property values in R-1/R1-H neighborhoods. 

Name a recent issue or policy the current City Council has decided that you agree with. Why?

Recently the Council voted to start looking into the feasibility of having an off-leash dog park here in Burbank. I believe this vote moves the City in the right direction. Many of our friends and neighbors are pet owners, and this project may provide a safe space for our four-legged friends and their owners to better enjoy the city.

Name a recent issue or policy the current City Council has decided that you disagree with. Why?

Recently the Council made the decision to grant certain developments as "exceptional projects," which allows for higher density over the established standard.  This was done without a clear definition or criteria as to what makes a project exceptional. I believe a clear definition should be established, with the input of the community, before denser developments are approved.

What is the best thing about how the current city government is run? 

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I think Burbank is special because our elected officials and city employees are accessible. There is an open-door policy from the city manager to the police chief and everyone in between.  I have seen community members rally together to get their voice heard and collaborate with city staff to come to the best solution for all involved.

What is the worst thing about how the current city government is run?

I personally believe that there could be more decorum on the dais.  I see squabbling amongst council members, sarcastic jabs, and needless repetition of opinions. I understand the frustration of individual council members. However, I think in order to attract new businesses to our city, our elected officials need to work together with mutual respect. This does not mean they need to agree on every issue, rather, I believe better solutions come when everyone involved works together respectfully.  

Is the city doing enough to be transparent about its negotiations with the airport regarding the replacement terminal and/or the so-called "opportunity site?" What, if anything, could be done better?

Transparency is a good thing, and I believe our city staff should be as transparent as they possibly can without putting in jeopardy ongoing negotiations or litigation.

It's hard to say if the city staff is being transparent or not with regards to the replacement terminal or the development of the opportunity site, as I am not privy to closed-session reports. I hope that when something is available for public consumption, that that information comes right away.

When City Manager Mark Scott was hired in 2013, his salary was more than the city managers of Glendale and Pasadena, as well as the mayor of Los Angeles. Has he earned it?

The city manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council and if they deem his performance review as satisfactory, then he has earned it. As a city councilperson it is important to make sure all our city employees are working for the benefit of the city. However, we shouldn't make it a policy to endanger the livelihood of any city employee, no matter how public the role, with no evidence of wrongdoing.

In light of the legal issues the city has been involved in, including the water transfer suit, is City Attorney Amy Albano providing the council sound legal advice? Why or why not?

I am not an attorney and not privy to closed-session information on legal issues. Until it is clearly and factually demonstrated otherwise, and because she serves at the pleasure of the City Council, if they deem her performance review as satisfactory, then they must believe she is giving sound advice.

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Open Response:

None received.

Public Records & Legal Information:
Endorsements:

Mary Alvord, Retired Burbank City Manager
Claudia Bonis, Former Burbank Police Commissioner
Jessica Cribbs, BurbankMom.com
Katie Echeverry, Small Business Owner, Burbank
Barry Gussow, Burbank Park, Recreation, and Community Services Board Member
Hagop Hergelian, Burbank Police Commissioner
Brian & Nancy Hurst, Retired Burbank Educators
Anja Reinke, Former Mayor of Burbank
Mary Schindler, Board of Library Trustee
Teri Stein, Retired Deputy Director, Burbank Park, Recreation, and Community Services Department
Karen Volpei-Gussow, Burbank Heritage Commissioner

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Funds raised by Stearns-Niesen:
Funds raised by candidates:
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