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Burbank election candidates talk budget, public outreach, other issues

January 31, 2013
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

Taking the stage for the first and largest election forum, candidates competing in three citywide races on Wednesday made what could be their highest profile pitches to the voting public before the Feb. 26 primary.

At the forum at Burbank City Hall, which was sponsored by the League of Women Voters Glendale/Burbank, City Council candidates were asked about the projected $1.3-million budget shortfall, climbing utility rates, a $252 million unfunded pension liability and a list of infrastructure needs.

“We need to look at the size of the city workforce, and streamline the way the city works,” said candidate Bob Frutos, a Los Angeles police officer.

Incumbent David Gordon touted his history of fiscal responsibility, noting he was the sole dissenting vote against pay raises for top utility officials in 2010 — a time when the rest of the city was “trying to tighten our belts.”

Still, incumbent Dave Golonski — who is currently serving as mayor — said Burbank’s utility rates are among the lowest in the area.

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“You’re not going to see lower utility rates anywhere — that’s because costs are going up,” he said.

Part of that is due to the infrastructure needs in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a major water source for Southern California, said incumbent Jess Talamantes.

“I do everything I can locally, but I can’t control what happens to the Delta,” Talamantes said.

But rates are only expected to increase, partly because of the state’s renewable energy mandate, which cost Burbank an extra $17.8 million just this year.

Political newcomer and former Marine Juan Guillen advocated fighting against the state’s “inefficiency.”

“Our hands are not tied,” Guillen said. “Why are we passing the buck off, making residents pay for energy we don’t need?”

David Nos also focused his comments on the city’s budgetary concerns and unfunded pension liability.

“We have to figure a way to bring in more revenues to fix shortfalls,” Nos said. “It’s going to take tough negotiations.”

Among the topics covered by the candidates for city clerk were ideas to increase voter registration and community outreach, tackle pending budget cuts and addressing online voting.

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