Political Landscape: Democrats reign in the area

Today, Burbank and Glendale are Democratic Party territory. In Burbank, 45% of the 54,761 registered voters are Democrats, according to the Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk's Office.

Of the remainder, 29% are Republican, 22% independent and 4% members of minor parties.

In Glendale, with nearly 89,000 registered voters, 41% are Democrats, 30% Republicans, 26% Independents and 4% affiliated with minor parties.

It wasn't always that way. Dario Frommer, a Glendale native and former state assemblyman who represented the area from 2000 to 2006, recalled visiting his first polling place when he was a student at Hoover High School.

"I remember going to vote at a garage in west Glendale," Frommer said. "There were eight voting booths for Republicans, and one that was Democrat-slash-other."

Frommer, 47, said several factors have changed the landscape since then. Among them is the surge "in the vibrant and dynamic Armenian community," as well as the growth of the Latino population and the influx of people from the entertainment industry. All those communities tend to be more liberal than conservative.

But "the fastest-growing political party today is independent voters," Frommer said.

He noted that nearly one out of four voters in his old Assembly district are independents, up from about one in six when he was in office a few years ago.

"Those are people who don't want to associate with either party," Frommer said. "They are more skeptical of incumbents and more interested in knowing what the candidates will do."

La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta remain Republican strongholds.

According to the registrar's office, La Cañada's roughly 14,000 registered voters include 48% Republicans, 30% Democrats, 19% Independents and 2% in other parties. In La Crescenta, 41% of the 8,000-plus registered voters are Republican, 35% Democrat, 20% Independent and 3% are with minor parties.

Looking at the 165,782 registered voters in all four cities, 41% are Democrats, 32% are Republicans, 24% are Independent and 3% are with minor parties.

Friedman, Talamantes answer questions

Glendale City Councilwoman Laura Friedman and Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes were among those on the hot seat at an Aug. 12 luncheon sponsored by the Valley Industry & Commerce Assn.

The trade group representing 340 businesses with a presence in the San Fernando Valley hosts an annual event during which lawmakers stand and deliver the answer to a question about their respective cities or agencies. This year's event in North Hollywood drew most members of the Los Angeles City Council, L.A. Controller Wendy Greuel, Assemblyman Paul Krekorian (D- Los Angeles) and others.

Greuel said salaries in the city of Bell, including the $471,000 for former Glendale Police Chief Randy Adams, had brought international embarrassment to Los Angeles. Krekorian discussed job-generating tax incentives, and Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich discussed his anti-tagging efforts.

"Taggers are like baby pigeons," he said. "You know they exist, you've just never seen one."

When it came to Talamantes, the question was on the high-speed rail.

Talamantes said Burbank has been "very active" in pushing the California High-Speed Rail Authority to place a station near Bob Hope Airport. The airport is one of four San Fernando Valley sites the authority is studying for a stop on the line from San Diego to San Francisco.

But Talamantes acknowledged that the rail line, scheduled to open in 2020, is a long way from being a reality.

"On a scale of 100, we're only at the 5% level," he said.

Friedman was asked how changes to city zoning could improve the business climate. She started by noting that Glendale recently wrote a check for $13.5 million to the state, which decided last year to take a bigger chunk of the revenue of local redevelopment agencies.

"It was such a huge check we actually took a picture of it," Friedman said.

She went on to say Glendale has created a quicker process for zoning appeals, cutting months off the waiting time for applicants. Before her two minutes were up, Friedman also said lean times and the need for business creation are changing the way the city thinks about redevelopment.

"Rather than thinking about building things, our redevelopment department has been turned around to think about economic development," she said.

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Talamantes had arrived at lunch after the latest meeting of the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments. The nascent organization, which includes Burbank, Glendale, Los Angeles, San Fernando and Santa Clarita, was created to address common concerns such as transportation and jobs, and to raise the region's profile before lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

The Aug. 12 meeting was just the third for the group, currently chaired by Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.

In an interview, Yaroslavsky said the first order of business is picking an executive director. The second is generating manufacturing and high-tech jobs on the I-5 corridor through the valley.

So far, each of the cities in the council has put up $10,000 to fund the operation, and Yaroslavsky said his office is looking for state or other funds to grow the council.

"I don't think there is any sentiment to go back to the cities for more money for dues," he said.

Councils in the San Gabriel Valley and on the west side have worked well, and so he was bullish on a local version.

"We have nothing to lose and everything to gain in bringing these jurisdictions together for the first time under one umbrella to address the challenges we have in common," he said.

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