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Candidates face the public

Molly Shore

Commercial development and budget concerns topped the questions

fielded by City Council candidates at a recent forum.

Candidates vying for two council seats are Michael Bergfeld, Gary

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Bric, Todd Campbell, Esther Espinoza, Vahe Hovanessian, Kisa

Kirkpatrick, Brian Malone, Michael Porco and Jef Vander Borght. The

candidates appeared Wednesday at a forum hosted by the League of

Women Voters Glendale/ Burbank.

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Bric, concerned the city might face a budget deficit from $3

million to $5 million, said the city needs to be more conservative

in its spending. However, he added he is against any cuts to police

or fire services and does not want to see any city employee layoffs.

Maintaining and enhancing residents’ quality of life, which Malone

said is envied by cities nationwide, will present a challenge to the

council because of the state’s huge budget deficit, he said.

Kirkpatrick said the city’s economic base is strong enough to

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cover necessary services.

“I know the money is there, and I know we can provide the basics

while we seek the cuts,” she said.

Espinoza spoke in favor of affording housing to help low-income

families. She is also an advocate for rent control, calling for

controls similar to those enacted in Santa Monica.

Porco also sees a need for affordable housing, but stopped short

of endorsing rent-control measures. The average income of a resident

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is $47,500, according to the 2000 Census, Porco said, but home prices

are more than seven times that amount, or about $360,000.

Vander Borght called for commercial development throughout the

city similar to the small-business development in the Magnolia Park

area. He would also like to attract an automobile dealership to add

tax dollars to the city’s coffers.

Hovanessian said he would be willing to invest revitalization

funds in the Media City Center, as long as it is not one super-sized

store, and Campbell called for mixed-use development and redeveloping

South San Fernando Boulevard to rid it of urban blight.

Bergfeld expressed concern about large commercial projects that

have been built in the city in recent years. As an example, he

mentioned two recently-built office buildings constructed near the

Empire Center that remain empty. He believes the city’s residents

want a place to live without the encroachment of giant commercial

development.

The forum, along with the school board one, will be rebroadcast on

Charter Communications Channel 6 until the Feb. 25 primary election.

Check the city’s Web site, www.ci.burbank.ca.us, for broadcast times.


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