Burbank City Council candidate Juan Guillen endorsed by Mayor Dr. David Gordon & Vice-Mayor Bob Frutos.
General 04/14/2015 – City Election Information | Election Central
LWV Candidates Forum YouTube Video | Candidates Video Statements
CITY COUNCIL Candidates (2 seats) * = endorsements
Juan Guillen*: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 557-7700
Emily Gabel-Luddy: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 559-2015
Will Rogers: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 843-2211
Chris Rizzotti: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 262-5446
SCHOOL BOARD Candidates (1 seat) * = endorsements
Armond Aghakhanian*: Website | FaceBook | Email | City | 640-9797
Greg Sousa: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 562-3029
In the February Primary Election embattled incumbent Emily Gabel-Luddy
topped the field with 41% of the vote (4,142), aided by outside Developer/Real Estate campaign contributions, several mailers incl. this one paid for by the IBEW
, and an outside political strategist who walked precincts with her. Gabel-Luddy’s vote was considerably less than incumbents in the 2013 primary (Frutos
*: 5,262 – 53.3%, Dr. Gordon: 4,705 – 47.7%, Talamantes: 4,341 – 44%), but on a par with Dave Golonski: (4,113 – 41.7%). Gabel-Luddy was portrayed by some as a “Pro-Development Nimby
” candidate, who’s approval of the Talaria traffic nightmare
on Olive & bloated 550 Third St/Cypress mixed-use projects with their “exceptional” density bonuses
and lack of affordable housing did not sit well with many residents who feel she hasn’t really represented them. Her animus towards Mayor David Gordon
who she failed to support for Mayor, and her decision to join former Councilman Dave Golonski in the politically motivated decision not to re-appoint Bob Frutos to the Police Commission
after her narrow & controversial 87 vote election win
in 2011, probably didn’t help her either, nor did her endorsement
of fellow Pro-Development
candidate Chris Rizzotti, who received $40k in independent expenditure from the Chicago based National Assoc. of Realtors PAC.
While you can make an argument that her experience in L.A. Planning is helpful, it’s only helpful to the degree she uses it to protect Burbank residents & neighborhoods. I do think she would be less “hostile” than Rogers or Rizzotti towards Dr Gordon & Mr Frutos, but that’s not saying much. It may seem like I’m being hard on Emily but as I reflect on the last 4 years I can’t think of anything she’s done to help my family or protect my neighborhood outside of last weeks support of an IDCO to stop the rampant Mansionization ruining Burbank. Gabel-Luddy voted to raise our Utility Rates 4 years in a row, set a record for the least productive Council in Burbank history during her 1 year as pro term Mayor, has tried to turn our local election into a partisan contest, and proudly supports Abortion. She also wanted to give the multi-Billion $ Ikea corporation a $800k tax break, refusing to join Gordon/Frutos in throwing that out during the Ikea deliberations even after Ikea agreed out of pride. I don’t dislike Emily but I do dislike her political ideology. Alas, with a sizable lead, the power of incumbency, and significantly (3x) more money than Rogers & Guillen, it appears we maybe set for another 4 years of Emily. We can only hope her recent IDCO support is not an election ploy but a change of heart and focus on whom she will serve if re-elected.
In what some might consider a surprise, Will Rogers finished 2nd with 35% of the Vote (3535), well ahead of the presumed runner-up Chris Rizzotti, despite being outspent by $50k. Rogers showed that local elections are still more about your ground game. In fact, Rogers schooled the challengers on how to run a successful grassroots campaign in Burbank, and its all about knocking on doors & having as many 1:1 conversations with residents as possible – not slick marketing campaigns, online advertising blitzes on Facebook or MyBurbank.com, fancy websites big on style but small on substance, Email lists or even Social Media, although Rogers used Social Media better than most to personally address a number of issues on both his own personal FB page and the comments section of the Burbank Leader, reveling just how biased some of the endorsement processes were, esp. the BAOR who backed Rizzotti & Gabel-Luddy.
In a letter published in the Burbank Leader, Rogers states: “We went up against big money from far outside Burbank — and even outside California. We did it without waves of political mail, or pros counterfeiting a grass-roots campaign. Rather than make secret promises to politicians and special interests, we’ve stayed independent. We’ve done it without K Street consultants from Washington, D.C., ‘robo-calls,’ or opinion polls to ‘assess what the issues were.’ We’ve done it despite committed opposition from an array of former city officials best remembered for their agenda of unrestricted development at virtually any cost, whether in taxpayer cash, traffic, burdens on residents, or even all three. Burbank’s voters have made it clear they don’t want to be talked to. They want to be listened to. Another more familiar message has also been sent once again: Burbank is not for sale”. – (Ditto to Burbank not being For Sale!)
As the new front runner for the open Council seat vacated by Gary Bric, Rogers now goes from the hunter to the hunted, underdog to bunny, and expect those behind him, in particular Rizzotti, to go after Rogers on a number of fronts. As Dan Evans pointed out in the Burbank Leadership Candidates Forum, Roger’s listing his current occupation as an “Investigative Reporter” was not really true…Rogers left the Burbank Leader in 2003 and last wrote a paid column for an unnamed individual in 2007. You can read that columns here and make your own conclusions. Rogers has also demonstrated an animus towards Mayor Gordon. In April last year I made a rare appearance before the City Council on what’s known as Non-Profit night where CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds are distributed. The room was full of community volunteers sharing all the wonderful work groups like FPV, BTAC, FSA, Boys & Girls Club do. Rogers and his close friend and supporter Dave Golonski were there but instead of speaking to these issues, they engaged in a bizarre politically motivated attack on Mayor David Gordon that was totally out of place. You can see Rogers public comments & attack video here. After watching the video and reading his past columns of paid political hit pieces, you have to ask yourself “Is this who you want on the Council” and consider the dynamics of how he’ll work with his colleagues, none of whom are endorsing him. His association with Golonski is also a big concern; the last thing we need is a return to the political games & retaliation that were hallmarks of the Golonski era. Do we want a 6th Golonski term via Rogers? Finally, while Rogers has done an excellent job breaking down some of the big issues like the Talaria & 3rd St/Cypress projects and recent Airport developments on his website, he’s largely been MIA when these issues came before the Council & Planning Board. It’s easy to sit back and criticize others while saying what you would have done after the fact, but where were you when the residents needed you to fight for them? Rogers was a no-show at the Talaria public hearings, 3rdSt/Cypress project (in fairness to him the Council tried to sneak this one through at the last meeting of the year a few days before Christmas), the recent Sunday Night emergency Airport meeting and IDCO Mansionization discussion. I believe what people DO not what they Say and despite his position papers which I tend to agree with, I’m not sure I trust Roger’s to be any different from Mr Golonski if elected. Time will tell.
While I’m sure candidate Chris Rizzotti is happy to be in the run-off, I can’t imagine he’s happy with the results given the amount of money being poured into his campaign. Rizzotti finished almost 1200 votes behind Rogers with 23% of the Vote (2,356). Rizzotti was the first to declare, had signs up before Thanksgiving, and was the establishments hand picked candidate to replace Gary Bric. He had the most money, having a $60k war chest; $20k campaign and $40k Ind/PACS vs. Rogers $9k & Juan’s Guillens $12k. That means Rizzotti spent about $26/vote vs Juan’s $5/vote, with just 53 votes separating them, while Rogers did best @ about $3/vote. Rizzotti spent $6k alone with one local online marketing company who had promoted the Talaria project (Countertuity). But Rizzotti’s unequivocal support for the Talaria & overbuilt 3rd St/Cypress “mixed-use” projects, along with Mansionization was enough to turn people off a candidate widely perceived as trying to buy the election. Rizzotti’s major claim to fame prior to running was the infamous Puppy Mill Ordinance (PMO). Rizzotti is also backed by Mike Gatto who supported AB1266, the Co-Ed Bathroom Bill and was labelled “an Anti-Gay Republican” by Brett Loutensock, a local political operative & close friend/tenant of Dave Golonski who’s supporting Rogers in undoubtedly the low-point of the campaign. He and his wife Shelley Rizzotti’s past animus towards Mayor Gordon and anyone who dared oppose the PMO including Bob Frutos didn’t help. People want candidates who are going to focus on the big issues, not promoting an ideological personal agenda. They want to get back to the basics of providing municipal services not funding pet projects i.e. fixing our streets, providing extra Police to crack down on speeding and SRO’s in our schools. They want people without animus who will work together with their colleagues to get things done for our benefit, not rubber stamps for Staff’s development goals. Look for the Rizzotti campaign to go after Rogers. The question is are the National Assoc. of Realtors and outside Developers going to continue to pour in more money into a marginal candidate who probably can’t win given the 1200 votes he needs to make up? And even if they do, what outside of attacking Rogers do they plan to do to turn things around? Clearly throwing money at the problem isn’t working and he can’t run from his voting record on the Planning Board. Rizzotti’s going to have to do more than putting new signs on Cusumano owned properties all over town to convince voters he’s the best candidate. Perhaps a softer approach i.e more listening & less selling/yelling that highlights his community service (Schools/Measure S, Family Promise, Young Life etc) and original non-generic ideas to make Burbank a better place for us residents will help.
Juan Guillen who had the backing of Mayor David Gordon showed that “service above self” does matter with a close 4th (2,303 – 23%), just a few votes behind Rizzotti. I’ve never seen a candidate serve his community more than Guillen has the last few years; from Bike Angels to Salvation Army to helping Veterans, mentoring Youth to feeding the Homeless…wherever there’s been a need, Juan Guillen has been there! He’s done a great job on the Library Board and no candidate has attended more Council meetings and spoken up for residents more than he has. While other candidates talk about what they would have done re Talaria or the 3rdSt/Cypress mixed-use development, Guillen was the only candidate to show up and speak up against these projects on behalf of residents. As stated earlier, I believe what people DO, not what they Say, and Guillen has proved to me that he will fight to protect our neighborhoods as he fought to protect our freedom as a Marine. The challenge for Guillen is convincing enough people he’s ready to lead now, and while he may not be as polished or eloquent in terms of public speaking as Rogers or Rizzotti, he has his heart in the right place which is why Gloria & I are endorsing him. That said, he has a lot of work to do! As a business owner he can’t afford to take a few weeks off work to knock on doors like Rogers who doesn’t run a business or work (FT), but he’s going to have to find away to maximize his time and reach more voters. A big plus is his recent endorsement by popular Vice-Mayor Bob Frutos who chose to sit-out the Primary; If Bob can get even 1/2 of the 5262 people who voted for him to support Guillen, then he has a real change of springing an upset. Unfortunately there’s only 1 more scheduled Candidate’s Forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce next week and as far as I know it’s not going to be televised or filmed, which is a real pity for the public who I’m sure would like to hear where all the remaining candidates stand on the big issues without reading from cue-cards. [* Update 3/30 – Elise Stearns-Niesen has joined the ever increasing list of Juan Guillen endorsements that also includes School Board President Roberta Grande Reynolds and Board-Elect Steve Ferguson.]