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Staying the course, changing its look

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


Vahe Hovanessian.

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

notable decisions.

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

several areas).

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.