The first round of Burbank’s municipal elections is through, and there are six candidates left standing. Mayor Dave Golonski and Councilman David Gordon will face off in the April 14 runoff election against four challengers — Jess Talamentes, Elise Stearns-Niesen, Kimberly Jo and Garen Yegparian — while Board of Education incumbents Larry Applebaum and Debbie Kutka have secured their seats on the dais again.
Since Golonski and Gordon were the top two vote-getters in Tuesday’s primary, they appear poised to take two of the three open seats in April. Talamentes, who served on the Burbank Fire Department for 32 years, got the third-most votes and may score the third spot, although, as elections have shown time and again, anything can happen in two months on the campaign trail.
As for the others who ran — Angela Nakashyan, Lee Dunayer, Barbara Sharp, Jeffrey W. Prutz, Greg Jackson, Dan Humfreville and Steven Ferguson for City Council and Gregory Bragg for Board of Education — 2009 didn’t turn out to be their year. But by giving Burbank voters such a diverse range of choices this year, they’ve done their community a service.
City elections are unique — and refreshing — in that they can zero in on specific projects and interest groups more than larger-scale elections can. While President Obama pushes a multibillion-dollar stimulus package to revive the entire American economy, Burbank City Council candidates can talk about putting new signage on the Chandler Bikeway or keeping the noise down at Bob Hope Airport. Whereas presidential hopefuls become mass-media icons, those in the running for City Council or school board may be the owners of voters’ favorite restaurants or neighbors they pass on their morning walks.
To outsiders, issues like the ones Burbank faces may not seem like much in the great scheme of things. But to those who populate the city, they’re the issues of everyday reality. And we thank all the contenders in Burbank this year, even those who didn’t make it past the primary, for representing so many diverse parts of the community.
Moreover, we hope those candidates will stay involved in the race as the calendar nears the April election. They, and their supporters, should continue to push their platforms and ask the remaining candidates the tough questions. And with Burbank facing a myriad of problems right now, not least the nationwide recession, there shouldn’t be a shortage of tough questions to go around.