combination was possible. The council had devolved into a panel of
individuals apparently forced to pick one side or another, and the
hostility between those individuals and their opposites throughout the
community was constant. Each side accused the other of seeking to destroy
the city. Then came Wiggins.
His background wasn't promising. Campaign supporters boasted his
experience presiding over the board of the Lakeside Country Club as his
chief qualification for office. But after a professional, well-financed
and organized effort, championed by the business community and
establishment players, he handily won election.
From the start, he was talking with people some of his colleagues
warned him never to speak to, and he answered questions some of his
colleagues had no trouble ignoring.
Even on issues that made it hard to avoid confrontation between
factions, Wiggins demonstrated a unique ability to listen. He conveyed a
sincere interest in the points made by conflicting sides, ultimately
making a decision that usually left the losing side convinced he listened
to and respected their point of view.
It's easy to win pals and supporters when you're doing what they want
you to do. But Wiggins has also won supporters because of the way he
voted against them.
It's no trouble to find examples of instances that had most of the
city, including me, willing to pigeonhole Wiggins, only to have him shrug
off the shackles of assumptions and generalizations. The best known took
place in April 1995 and remains today as a pivotal moment in Burbank's
The city was in the early stages of trying to cajole the Airport
Authority into considering the interests of residents during the process
of building a new terminal. Back then, had the airport agreed to repay
Burbank for property taxes lost when private land became public property
for the terminal, and to take steps toward imposing an enforceable
nighttime curfew on commercial flights, voters and council members were
amenable to a new terminal without other limits, certainly not the
laundry list of demands put forth today by even the most congenial