Burbank City Council incumbents clash at election forum

Burbank City Council incumbents clash at election forum
Burbank Mayor David Golonski, seen here at an event last year, clashed Thursday night with fellow incumbent David Gordon. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer)

Tensions ran high at Thursday's City Council candidate forum, with two longtime incumbents David Gordon and Dave Golonski unleashing confrontational jabs at each other's on-the-job performances throughout the night.

Gordon blasted Golonski's idea of outsourcing city services, while Golonski explained why he's never voted to appoint Gordon, a seven-year councilman, as mayor.

The forum was hosted by the Burbank Assn. of Realtors and moderated by its president, Eric Benz.

To Golonski, outsourcing services is a better option than raising fees or cutting services to balance the budget, and would save money for repairing the city's deteriorating streets and to pay down the unfunded pension liability.

"Does it matter to you whether your trees are trimmed by a city employee or a private contractor?" Golonski asked. "It costs like twice as much to have city employees do that."

Challenger David Nos said he's not against outsourcing as an option, but Gordon said the cost savings may not be worth it.

"You don't just save money when you outsource — you give up the reliability, you give up quality, you give up control," he said. "Those things have to be weighed."

Gordon denounced the city's recently approved general plan — dubbed "Burbank 2035" — which he said was based on an agenda to, among other things, get people out of their cars and onto their bikes.

But Golonski called him a conspiracy theorist.

"Dr. Gordon thinks everything sustainable is an international conspiracy from the United Nations," Golonski said. "I don't think so. I think it's about making our city healthy and strong. Sustainability is not a conspiracy to deprive people of their rights."

That is among the reasons why Golonski said he never voted to appoint Gordon as mayor, a position he called the "spokesperson" of Burbank.

"Is that what you want represented out there to Burbank?" Golonski asked. "I made the decision that it wasn't, because the citizens entrusted me to use my brain."

Other topics of discussion included balancing growth with protecting residential neighborhoods, and ideas to stimulate the economy.

Incumbent Jess Talamantes said he'd work to attract new businesses to empty storefronts downtown.

"When I see vacancies, I see less revenue; when people see vacancies, people tend to stay away," he said.

Talamantes, who has had to cut from the budget every year since joining the council four years ago, said his major goal is to fix the budget so that no further reductions are needed when he passes the torch to his successors.

In terms of hiring a new city manager, the candidates all agreed they'd like to find someone who can motivate city staff and demonstrates strong leadership qualities.

Nos said he's looking for someone "in complete control of his own thought process and has no problem going head-to-head with the City Council," Nos said. "The city manager needs to develop a vision."

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News


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