With a light heart and an only slightly exaggerated sense of relief,
Stacey Murphy relinquished the mayor's chair this week to Bill Wiggins.
Murphy, 41, was the third woman to hold the mayor's post in Burbank.
The small-business owner and mother of three sons has been on the council
for three years and has lived in Burbank for a decade and a half. She
will be up for reelection next year.
Although the mayor's job is largely a ceremonial one, it does carry a
high degree of visibility and a fair amount of influence. Burbank's
mayors, who serve one-year terms at the pleasure of their council
colleagues, are the unofficial spokeswomen and spokesmen of the city, and
they are inevitability at the center of the thorniest and most pressing
issues faced by local government each year.
Murphy's tenure as mayor was no exception. And while she stumbled at
times, she deserves credit for a difficult job done well. It's clearly
been an exhilarating -- and occasionally maddening -- ride for Murphy.
"I'm really glad this day is here," Murphy said during Monday's
reorganization ceremony at City Hall. "It's been challenging and awfully
Murphy's year as mayor saw at least partial approval of several large
development deals in Burbank, including the massive Burbank Empire Center
on former Lockheed Martin Corp. land and the AMC Theatre project in
Burbank Village. On a smaller scale, Murphy also presided over the
approval of Burbank's first lighted soccer field at Providencia
Elementary School, a project she has championed since her days on the
Park and Recreation Commission. Other projects Murphy has supported
include rebuilding the former Los Angeles County Natural History Museum
annex into a community theater, the Got Wheels! after-school
transportation program and the unrealized effort to build a park in the
South San Fernando District.
Murphy also deserves praise for her understated role when a Southwest
Airlines jet skidded off the runway and onto Hollywood Way in March.
Although she took flak from some, Murphy did what she was supposed to,
offering whatever help she could and staying out of the way.
One area in which Murphy did not excel, was communicating with the
news media. At times Murphy was available to answer calls and discuss
city business but at other times those calls simply went unreturned. As
the single most visible city representative, it is the job of the mayor
to respond when city business demands and Murphy's record of making
herself available was inconsistent at best.
It will no doubt be airport issues though for which Murphy's tenure as
mayor will be remembered. Murphy and Councilman Dave Golonski were the
city's most visible representatives in the negotiations leading to the
Framework for Settlement agreement with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena
Airport Authority. And while that deal drew vociferous criticism from
inside the city and out -- and has since been scrapped -- it represented
a major milestone in the expansion debate as the first time the city and
the airport came together on a unified plan.
Despite the lack of action, progress has been made on the airport
front in the past year and Murphy, although she has not injected new
ideas into the debate, deserves praise for her hard work, persistence and
Congratulations on your year in the hot seat, Madame Mayor, Burbank
offers its thanks.