The Burbank City Council does a lot of things right, so there’s
certainly an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” component to Tuesday’s
At the same time, the community’s cultural and ethnic makeup could
be better represented on the council, which means at least one change
of significance is in order.
Both things can be accomplished by electing the two men the
Burbank Leader is endorsing for City Council: Jef Vander Borght and
Vander Borght, a self-employed architect and builder, is an
incumbent councilman, but not by much. He was appointed in March to
replace Bob Kramer, who resigned to take a job with the city, and
thus has been involved in only a fraction of the sitting council’s
That works mostly in Vander Borght’s favor. He wasn’t around to
draw most of the fire the council’s taken about the airport over the
past few years, including suing the Airport Authority after Measure A
was approved in October 2001, so he hasn’t had to help shoulder the
baggage some other council members carry around.
At the same time, Vander Borght’s been on the council long enough
for the public and his fellow council members to come to the
conclusion that he doesn’t appear beholden to any one school of
thought when it comes to issues of substance, and that he’s
contemplative and reasonable, in marked contrast to his predecessor.
These are only good things.
Throw in the fact that Vander Borght believes some sort of middle
ground is necessary to solve the airport issue; that traffic problems
in Burbank are at least as weighty as airport concerns; and that the
city spends too much time and money on litigation and outside legal
services, and this a councilman worth keeping.
Hovanessian is a lesser-known quantity, but a promising one. A
civil litigation paralegal, he takes a relatively hard line about the
airport (Measure A’s requirements should be the minimum expected from
the FAA, he says).
But he’s much more flexible in other areas, including use of
public funds for downtown revitalization (he’d like it distributed to
several smaller businesses instead of one or two big ones); public
open space (he asks, why can’t the public use school properties when
school isn’t in session?); and traffic concerns (he’d like more
freeway ramps, parking spaces and lanes to reduce congestion in
Also, candidly, Hovanessian’s Armenian background is a plus.
Burbank’s Armenian community is large and growing, but
underrepresented in city government and not represented at all on the
council. Having an Armenian take a council seat doesn’t automatically
translate into good governance on that community’s behalf -- or even
assure that all its concerns will be heard -- but it’s a step in the
right direction, one toward making the council as diverse as
The Burbank Leader encourages its readers to vote for Jef Vander
Borght and Vahe Hovanessian in Tuesday’s municipal election.