Primary election wins the vote for Burbank City Council

Burbank's primary election will live on after the City Council on Thursday decided not to pursue plans to cut the first of a two-step electoral process in order to save roughly $72,000 a year. Doing so would have required voter approval.

The change would have left the city with an extra $144,700 — the average cost of the primary — in its coffers every two years, but the savings was not enough to sway the council.

"The cost savings are minimal and I don't think they should be considered in a democracy," said Councilman David Gordon, adding that a one-election system would skew results in favor of incumbents.

City officials had also argued that the results of the primary, in terms of top vote-getters, differed from those of the general election just a handful of times in the last 30 years, the last roughly two decades ago.

But Councilman Gary Bric refuted that with his own experience in 2003. As the second-top vote-getter in the primary, he said, he would've been elected with just one election. But he lost in the general election.

According to a city report, Burbank is one of just about 15 cities in the state that has more than one election.

"I really don't care what other cities are doing — I don't care if it's old-fashioned," Gordon said.

Resident Garen Yegparian, who spoke in favor of preserving the primary, agreed.

With one election, "any group that has even a tiny plurality will dictate" who gets elected, Yegparian said. "That doesn't inspire the confidence that a majority electing the council does."

Just one council member, Jess Talamantes, supported placing a measure on the 2015 ballot proposing to cut the primary election, saying he would like to see the voters decide.

As it preserved one tradition, Council members on Thursday also decided to resurrect another.

The Easter Egg-Stravaganza is back for good, at an annual cost of $6,000. The move seemed to be a no-brainer for the City Council, which without much discussion, voiced unanimous support for the idea.

Budget cuts put the egg hunt on hiatus last year, but the city revived the popular event at the last minute this year, two weeks before the holiday.


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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