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After some vote shuffling, Burbank leaders appoint a new city treasurer

Burbank City Hall
The Burbank City Council appointed Krystle Ang Palmer on Monday to be the new city treasurer.
(File Photo)

The sixth time was the charm for Krystle Ang Palmer.

The Burbank City Council held a special meeting on Monday and unanimously voted to appoint Palmer, a 36-year-old stay-at-home mom with 10 years of finance experience, as the new city treasurer until Dec. 14, 2020, but only after several rounds of votes were held involving several candidates for the job.

Palmer will be sworn in on Aug. 13 and fills in for outgoing City Treasurer Debbie Kukta, who in June was hired by the Burbank Unified School District as its assistant superintendent of administrative services.

Kukta, who began her new role with the school district on Aug. 1, was appointed by the city in June 2012 to complete former City Treasurer Donna Anderson’s term. Kukta was then elected to a four-year term in 2013 and was reelected in 2017, according to the city of Burbank’s website.

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Although Kukta’s term with the city would have ended in 2019, Burbank officials who were elected in 2017 had their terms extended by one year and eight months to align with the state’s general election dates via Measure V, which was approved by Burbank voters in June 2018.

Burbank will have its municipal election in November 2020, during which the city treasurer’s position will be up for grabs. The person elected that year will serve a two-year term to finish Kukta’s term.

The November 2022 election for the city treasurer will be a four-year term.

Before becoming a stay-at-home mom for the last two years, Palmer previously worked for several finance companies in Los Angeles, New York and in the Philippines, and she has experience in developing long-term financial plans and managing hedge funds.

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A majority vote was needed to appoint a candidate, but the first four votes to choose the appointed city treasurer resulted in a deadlock.

Councilmen Bob Frutos and Jess Talamantes voted for Jillian Yvonne Schafer, a senior auditing manager at accounting firm KPMG. They said they appreciated her willingness to collaborate with other city treasurers and her prioritization of ethics.

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy pulled for Gerrard A. Panahon, a senior financial analyst at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who currently serves as a Burbank Water and Power board member. She said she liked Panahon’s approach to protect the city’s assets and that he doesn’t overreact when financial issues arise.

Councilman Tim Murphy stuck with Darin Bryant Shea, a local business owner with about 25 years of experience in finance. Murphy said he liked all of the other candidates but thought Shea had better experience than the rest of them.

Vice Mayor Sharon Springer championed Palmer’s appointment with every vote she cas t that night. Springer said she was impressed with Palmer’s previous experience and liked how clearly she explained complex financial topics.

For four rounds of votes, their choices didn’t change.

It wasn’t until the fifth round of voting when Murphy decided to swing his vote for Palmer.

The sixth vote resulted in almost every council member vot ing favor in Palmer , with Talamantes supporting Schafer. Talamantes eventually changed his vote to show solidarity with his colleagues.

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“It’s the first time that I’ve gone through this process, and I’m definitely very grateful for the trust they put into me,” Palmer said after the meeting.

“All the candidates were extremely qualified, especially the finalists. I’m just glad we were all given the opportunity to present our case here and everyone brought something to the table,” she added.

Palmer decided to become a stay-at-home mother for the past two years to focus on her pregnancy and ensure that her twins were going to be healthy.

Her children are doing well, and they just celebrated their second birthdays, so Palmer said it was time to get back into the workforce and continue her passion for finance.

“If I’m going to take the time away from my kids, I want it to be something worthwhile,” Palmer said.

“I knew that I didn’t want to do plain finance job working a hedge fund for a company somewhere in Century City, making all this money for millionaires. That isn’t meaningful, but working for Burbank means something,” she added.

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