As residential Realtor in Burbank, City Council candidate Whit Prouty meets families all the time who are drawn to Burbank for its unique character and small-town feel.
"They stay in Burbank or they come to Burbank because of what a wonderful place it is," he said.
And the desire to help maintain Burbank's high quality of life fuels Prouty's bid for one of two council seats that are opening up in April.
Prouty's first steps into Burbank civic affairs began with the PTA when his children started going to Burbank schools. His PTA work served as a bridge to involvement with the Chamber of Commerce, and soon after he became active with nonprofit organizations.
When he joined the Leadership Burbank program, Prouty was given an up-close look into city goings-on.
"You get to learn about the infrastructure of the city," he said. "You get to see a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that you normally wouldn't have access to."
The experience acquainted Prouty with the city's departmental structure and his interest in the city's inner workings grew, he said.
"That certainly set the spark because I am extremely interested in what goes on in this community," he said. "But I believe that we are at a very critical point. This is a very critical election and I think that I have the leadership skills to be a part of the continued prosperity of this community."
But that prosperity could be compromised, Prouty said, with the election of a candidate who focuses on what he what he describes as "conspiracy theory" politics.
"There is a certain camp that is gloom and doom and if they're elected they will take Burbank backward," he said. "And I will have the leadership to continue moving us forward and maintain the prosperity."
Any sort of regression could inflict adverse consequences on city services and public safety, which the public has long counted on for their reliability and high quality, he said.
And the future development in Burbank, which is always a concern of residents, must walk a careful balance between bringing in developments that continue the city's prosperity and protecting the interests of Burbank residents.
Prouty looks forward to tackling the steep learning curve that would come with the first months on the council.
"We're all newbies, but what you can look at is our backgrounds, our experiences and the diversity that we bring and what our decision-making process will be," he said. "Which is why I think my decision-making process is the best for the community: taking into account all sides and not coming up to the dais having an agenda."
Supporters of his candidacy come from diverse segments of the community — from families and single-parent households to city employees and the business community, he said.
Pat Patterson, who serves with Prouty on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce, touted Prouty's level-headed decision-making process.
"He's impressed me on two levels," Patterson said. "One, in business: being on the Chamber Board of Directors, I've watched his decision-making capabilities. He's very analytical in his approach, very open-minded and he doesn't exert his own influence heavily over his decision making.
"I've also viewed him as a citizen in and around town — his involvement in his kids' schools, his involvement with his children. He's very much a Burbank person."
WHIT PROUTY: ON THE ISSUES
What type of role should local government play in monitoring the pace of land development in Burbank?
The consideration of previous development decisions and their cumulative effects on our community are necessary for making decisions. Accurate information is imperative. Our current development guidelines have criteria that, if met, cause a review by staff, the Planning Board and potentially the council. My platform for neighborhood preservation will take into consideration location, use, need, safety, traffic, parking and any other impacts used in establishing the pros and cons of development.
Has the city's almost two-year-old development agreement with the Airport Authority provided an adequate balance between the interests of airport officials versus the concerns Burbank residents?
Yes. The city's development agreement (I call it the no-development agreement) has essentially tabled the ongoing issue at the airport until 2015. Some of my opponents would have you believe otherwise, but tabling this issue has allowed the city to concentrate on other pressing issues that have been our residents' priorities, such as traffic, housing and service.
What types of things should be done to address traffic congestion on Burbank streets and freeways?
Accurate traffic information is needed first. We must be aware of and take action when our neighbors in Glendale, North Hollywood and Universal City create large developments that impact our streets. Caltrans must be pushed to alleviate the freeway traffic that cuts through our streets because of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Golden State (5) and the Ventura (134) freeways. The city must continue the effort toward traffic signal synchronization and additional "smart" left-turn signals. Finally, we must continue our efforts to move people within our city by mass transit and walking and bicycle-friendly neighborhoods and services.
Name: Whit Prouty
Family: Wife, Laura; children, Ron, Nicolette and Caitlyn.
Occupation: Residential Realtor
Education: Bachelor of science in business administration, concentration in finance, Boston University.