In what was likely to be the last public debate forum before the February primary, the six candidates for Burbank City Council on Wednesday were united in stressing a more conservative, efficient approach to public spending.
Candidates who took the stage at the Colony Theatre were asked their thoughts on looming budget cuts, airport expansion and the pending traffic impacts of the construction on the Golden State (5) Freeway, which will close the Burbank Boulevard bridge for more than a year.
In terms of the city's projected $1-million budget deficit, the candidates agreed the city needs to spend more effectively and efficiently.
Candidates Dave Golonski, an incumbent, and David Nos both stressed the importance of investing in the city's $252 million unfunded pension liability.
"That's how we're going to moderate our pension costs — otherwise they're going to eat our ability to deliver services," Golonski said.
Others emphasized "smarter" spending.
"We can't talk about spending $2 million on the golf course, then cutting the bus and senior programs and senior meals," said candidate Juan Guillen, referring to the emergency bailout of the DeBell Golf Club. "We need to figure out what is a necessity and what is a luxury."
Most candidates were for airport modernization, but struggled with the idea of expanding it.
"We need to explore how we can modernize the terminal without the adverse impacts of expanding the terminal," said incumbent David Gordon.
In terms of mitigating traffic during construction on the I-5, incumbent Jess Talamantes said the key is communicating with residents.
Candidate Bob Frutos proposed a Thursday-through-Sunday trolley bus that would trek from the Empire Center to Magnolia Park to stimulate business and encourage people to get out of their cars.
The forum — organized by the Leadership Burbank and Burbank Chamber of Commerce — also veered off into the cultural, of the Hollywood kind.
Moderator Dan Schnur closed the evening asking candidates their Oscar picks for best picture.
"Lincoln" led with three votes from Gordon, Guillen and Nos, followed by "Argo," which scored two votes from Talamantes and Frutos. Golonski sided with "Silver Linings Playbook."
Residents can mail in their municipal election ballots — postage is already provided — or drop off ballots at City Hall on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Ballots must be received before 7 p.m. on Feb. 26.
On Feb. 23, voters can take their ballots to the Buena Vista Library, Joslyn Center, Tuttle Center, McCambridge Recreation Center, or the city clerk's office at City Hall between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. On Feb. 26, the drop-off locations will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News