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Four vie for two remaining seats on city council

March 04, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

It’s crunch time for the four City Council hopefuls, who have less than a month to knock on as many doors and raise as much money for their campaigns as possible before ballots are mailed out for the April 9 general election.

The stakes were raised for the three incumbents after challenger Robert Frutos won one of three seats outright in the primary on Tuesday, leaving just two remaining seats.

As of last week, the incumbents had raised roughly an equal amount of money — David Gordon and Dave Golonski were hovering around $8,500; Jess Talamantes was slightly higher at $9,150. The totals did not include loans to their own campaigns.

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Challenger David Nos trailed behind, having culled just $3,900 from supporters.

Happy he “made the cut” in the primary, Nos said that with more aggressive campaigning, he thinks he can unseat an incumbent.

“We’re all back at zero,” Nos said Thursday. “I’m the one that’s got to work the hardest though — I plan to do that.”

Gordon, the second-highest vote-getter in Tuesday’s primary, said he’s “very optimistic” moving into the general election. Finishing behind Frutos, who secured a seat with 5,262 votes, Gordon reeled in 4,705 votes.

“Apparently, there’s a track record I have for people to look at,” Gordon said Thursday. “For those who looked, they felt I was worthy of their vote.”

Maintaining quality public safety services, solving the city’s budgetary problems and choosing the next city manager are among Gordon’s top priorities, he said.

Talamantes, who finished third Tuesday with 4,341 votes, noted that in canvassing neighborhoods, residents’ chief complaint was Burbank’s shoddy streets.

“Our infrastructure is very important and high on my priorities, to try and see where we can get some funds to start putting away for our infrastructure,” he said.

Golonski said moving forward, he plans to continue to go door-to-door to spread his 10-year “financial plan” to address the city’s budget deficit, unfunded pension liability and infrastructure needs.

The city, he said, needs to identify $8 million a year in recurring savings over the next decade, a difficult feat at a time when the city’s facing a $1-million recurring structural deficit.

But with the savings — which he said can be accomplished through employee attrition or contracting out services — he’d apply $5 million annually to paying down the city’s unfunded pension liability, $2 million in street repairs, and $1 million in infrastructure improvements to city parks and facilities, he said.

When asked if these types of efforts would reduce the quality of services, Golonski said there’s a trade-off.

“The other choices you face are raising fees on residents or just cutting services,” he said. “I’m not in favor of either of those approaches until we’ve examined ways to deliver the same services at the same level in a more cost-effective manner.”

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

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