Posts Tagged ‘Elise Stearns-Niesen’

General Election Info & Primary Post-Mortem

March 21, 2015
Juan Guillen endorsed by Mayor Dr. David Gordon & Vice-Mayor Bob Frutos. (Pic provided by candidate)

Burbank City Council candidate Juan Guillen endorsed by Mayor Dr. David Gordon & Vice-Mayor Bob Frutos.

General 04/14/2015¬†‚ÄstCity 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 Рnot slick marketing campaigns, online advertising blitzes on Facebook or, 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 ‚ÄĒ 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‚ĶRogers 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‚Ķwherever 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.]

Juan Guillen for Burbank Council 2015 Campaign Event РFLICKR Photo Album | FaceBook Photo Album

Burbank Primary Election 2015

January 31, 2015


Primary 02/24/2015 ‚Äď City Election Information | Election Central

LWV Candidates Forum YouTube Video | Candidates Video Statements

CITY COUNCIL Candidates (2 seats)  * = endorsements

David Nos*: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 563-5558

Juan Guillen*: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 557-7700

Elise Stearns-Niesen: Website | FaceBook | Email | City | 659-5845

Sharon Springer: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 388-8483

Will Rogers: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 843-2211

Emily Gabel-Luddy: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 559-2015

Chris Rizzotti: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 262-5446

SCHOOL BOARD Candidates (3 seats)  * = endorsements

Vahe Hovanessian*: Website | FaceBook | Email | City | 606-4486

Roberta Reynolds: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 558-7854

Greg Sousa: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 562-3029

Armond Aghakhanian: Website | FaceBook | Email | City | 640-9797

Steve Ferguson: Website | FaceBook | Email | City page | 415-9048

Jesse Tangkhanya: Website | FaceBook | Email | City | 323-877-7577


Primary Election Commentary – Burbank City Council

We Love Burbank – the Media Capital of the World; It’s Churches, Schools, Police & Fire services, Parks, Small-Town Feel & Quality of Life.¬†But that Quality of Life is under threat from agenda-driven Politicians, Staff bureaucrats & Developers who want¬†to buy & sell Burbank for their own benefit.¬†From the approval of the Cusumano’s¬†Talaria condos traffic nightmare on Olive with it’s extra¬†density¬†& lack of affordable housing, to the 3rd ¬†St. & Cypress Apt. project also approved by the Council*¬†(Gabel-Luddy) & Planning Board (Rizzotti) @ 25% above code, tentative plans¬†for the¬†old Ikea site to be converted to mixed-use Apartments instead of an open commercial retail space, uncertainty re development plans for¬†the massive 58 acre Airport B-6 Property (aka “Opportunity Site”) being sold to fund a new “safer” 14 gate terminal, rampant¬†mansionization, speeding &¬†unlicensed¬†care/sober living facilities‚ĶBurbank is looking/feeling more like Glendale & West L.A. every year.

We need to put the brakes on!¬†We need to change the fundamental direction the City is going in.¬†We need smart growth that puts the needs of the Residents and our Neighborhoods above the profits of Developers.¬†We need New Leaders who’s No.1 desire is to Serve & Protect You and I; Our Families, Our Neighborhoods, Our Livelihoods.¬†So please join us in supporting David Nos & Juan Guillen for Burbank City Council,¬†2 longtime Burbank Residents & Small Business Owners with servant hearts & the right mix of¬†experience¬†& youth to be¬†your voice¬†on the City Council.¬†And let’s¬†work¬†together¬†to make Burbank a better place to live, work & play for everyone.

Update 2/24/15: It’s Election Day! If you haven’t already mailed in your ballot you’ll need to drop it off today before 7pm. Today’s drop-off locations incl. Joslyn & Tuttle Centers, City Clerk’s Office, Buena Vista Library, McCambridge Rec Ctr., John Muir Middle School, Edison Elementary & Burbank Adult School. #VoteBurbank * Check back tonight after 8pm for Election Results.

Happy Labor Day! Pray 4 Israel. Talaria drama.

August 29, 2014


I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful evening of education and inspiration with David Siegel, Consul General of Israel in L.A last night at Burbank Temple Emanuel El. Great community turnout incl. Mayor David Gordon who presented Mr Siegel with a plaque to commemorate his first visit to Burbank in 10 years. Also in attendance were Vice-Mayor Bob Frutos, Police Commissioners Nate Rubinfeld & Elise Stearns-Niesen, Library Board member Juan J Guillen and many more active Burbank citizens. It was great to see so many old friends from Calvary Chapel Burbank incl. Pastor Tim Anderson and the faith-based community (incl. Burbank Pres) supporting Israel. Pray for Israel, Gaza and Peace. Thanks Barbara Lazar for the invite!

TALARIA Update: It’s come to my attention that a 300+ member Church (Victory Baptist Church) will be torn down and replaced with 241 Condos if the Talaria project is approved. The previous Developer (Platt) was going to build a new Church on the property but not so with the Cusumanos, although they will refund them up-to $50k if they have to leave prior to their lease expiring. However, their Pastor Nick Reed gave public testimony at Monday’s Planning meeting that the Developer had threatened them for opposing the project. I’m saddened but not surprised by these revelations. You can read more on the SemiChorus Blog & here. Here’s the Video:

Canyon Grille at DeBell Golf Club

April 12, 2014


Canyon Grille at DeBell Official Grand Opening РFLICKR Photos | FACEBOOK

Links: DeBell Golf Club Website | DeBell FaceBook page | My Burbank story

Burbank on Parade 2011

April 10, 2011


Burbank on Parade PHOTOS by Eric Michael Cap


Burbank on Parade Photos

April 10, 2010
Eric’s 2010 Burbank on Parade Photos link

Burbank Primary Election – Opinion

February 20, 2009

Now that most people have already mailed in their ballots, I thought I‚Äôd weigh-in with my final election thoughts.¬†Was it just us or did anyone else have a hard time discerning which candidates to support? We read each candidate’s statement, watched their videos and the LWV Forum on Channel 6, visited each candidates web site, and conducted our own Q&A survey to see where they stand on a variety of ¬†issues that are important to us. (See Below). So after all that, who are we supporting?

First off, someone new!¬†Barbara Sharp is our No.1 pick in the upcoming Burbank Primary election. We’re very impressed by Barbara’s knowledge of local issues, her creative & innovative ideas, and common sense approach to solving the economic challenges we face. She supports our leading health & environmental initiatives, will abolish permit fees for small-scale video productions, and supports changes to our 10yr old Home Occupation ordinance to provide greater flexibility for those who choose to work from home. Moreover, Barbara is committed to ensuring Burbank remains the “Media Capital of the World” by working hard to retain & attract new media/entertainment companies & jobs. She’s a breath of fresh air with an infectious spirit, boundless energy and deep love for the City she now calls home. I hope my fellow media professionals will join me in supporting Barbara Sharp for Burbank City Council.

Second, someone older and familiar…Dave Golonksi. There’s something to be said for experience, especially during these uncertain times, and while Dave & I have not always seen eye to eye, he is tried & tested and has served this community well. He’s been fiscally responsible, lead the fight in obtaining airport protections for residents (Measure B, Part 161 study), has been a champion for youth causes, and put a stop to the mansionization that was ruining our neighborhoods. He proposed changes to our Art in Public Places program that now allows developers to give ¬Ĺ% of a projects total cost to fund school arts programs. He threatened to put up a billboard to shame a certain carrier that was violating our voluntary airport curfew. He has a vision for a new “green” aquatics center & year-round swimming programs, and recently came up with a proposal that could see Burbank & Glendale combining to build a new Armory on the B-6 property, that could also serve as a Winter Homeless Shelter. While others are talking, Dave is doing and has earned our support.

Third…someone “in-between”.¬†There’s a number of candidate’s who’ve served the community on various boards & committees over the last few years, but we feel Lee Dunayer is a good choice to balance out the line-up. He’s a financial whiz and we could use all the help we can to balance the budget & deal with the financial challenges we face as a City. As BWP Vice-Chair he’s knowledgeable on Utility & infrastructure issues, is a big fan of renewable energy and our “green” efforts to be environmentally friendly, and as a former PERC member (& pilot), someone I trust to protect our best interests in relation to airport matters. My wife & I have been a big fan of Marsha Ramos over the years and trust her judgment, so with her glowing endorsement, along with that of City Treasurer Donna Anderson, Lee gets the nod for the 3rd available Council seat.

We all spent countless hours watching the Presidential campaign coverage this past year, but how many of us are willing to spend an hour or 2 researching the people who will be making critical decisions that in many ways, will have a greater impact on our daily lives than the decisions made in Washington or Sacramento. Ballots are due by February 24th. If you haven’t already done so, please take the time to Vote…Burbank’s future depends on it!

Burbank Council Candidate Q&A – Elise Stearns-Niesen

February 3, 2009

Elise Stearns

1. In 2007 Burbank passed a Second-Hand Smoke Control Ordinance to protect the public’s health & well-being, and which has since been emulated by numerous cities (Glendale, Pasadena etc.). Do you support the “SHSCO” & would you support an amendment to the ordinance to limit smoking in multi-unit housing?¬†

~ Although I’m not a big fan of this ordinance, it’s my understanding that a good portion of Burbank residents were in favor of it. I get a little nervous when we create laws/ordinances that dictate a person’s behaviors that are, albeit annoying, not illegal. I worry about civil liberties and where we draw the line on other behaviors. I would prefer that our police officers not spend time citing violators of annoying behaviors and rather cite folks that are a danger to our public safety (there is no clinical proof that second hand smoke is a danger to our health, only speculation). All that being said, and hindsight being 20/20, if a great majority of the feedback from city residents was truly in favor of the ordinance, I would have reluctantly voted in favor of it.¬†

2. In late 2008 the Council updated Burbank’s Film Permit Ordinance to accommodate the use of hand-held cameras, but still prohibits the use of such cameras without a ($350) permit if external lighting/audio gear is used. Would you support amending the current fee structure to waive &/or lower permit fees for small-scale video productions?¬†

~ I would be open to exploring the filming permit process with hand-held cameras a little further. I believe the biggest concern for me is that of safety when external lighting and audio equipment is used. I don’t want to stifle small-scale productions, independent film makers and students from filming in Burbank, especially if they are filming on their own property. So, yes, I would be open to revisiting this ordinance.¬†

3. In 2006 the Council adopted a ZTA with AUP process to allow Music Lessons as a Home Occupation. Would you support revisiting our (10 year old) Home Occupation Ordinance to allow more reasonable & flexible home business usage to enable more people (media freelancers, moms etc.) to work-at-home? 

~ I would be open to exploring the Home Occupation Ordinance. In these days of job losses and recession, I’m open to making changes that help folks be successful in their home occupations, so long as it doesn’t disturb the neighbors and add vehicle traffic to the neighborhoods. Working from home has many benefits; telecommuting will reduce traffic and lessen carbon emissions and parents can spend more time with their children and possibly reduce child care costs.¬†

4. You all seem to agree that protecting our residential neighborhoods “quality-of-life” is key. We live adjacent to a school in a R-1 zone and my neighbors and I experience daily the negative impacts from peak-hour traffic, school noise & student interactions. Many of us have had our property damaged by students and soccer is now being played on weekends. What can/will you do to protect our quality-of-life & safety?¬†

~ I think dialogue with the school, the school district and police department would be the first plan of action. Brainstorm ideas with the school and parents to give incentives for carpooling to lessen traffic, consider permit parking on the street to reduce all day parking issues, and ask for more police officer presence at the beginning and ending of the school day. 

5. Do you support the building of a new Aquatics Facility to replace our aging swimming pools and year-round programs for all people & ages? 

~ I’m certainly open to exploring a new Aquatics Facility. I know there are a lot of lap swimmers in Burbank that would appreciate a year round facility. That being said, I think the existing public swimming pools are aptly located, providing a summer outlet for our kids in different sides of the city. I’d be open to repairing our existing pools to continue to provide those neighborhoods with water recreation. I’d look for funding, perhaps not now, but when our economy bounces back, for a new aquatics center.¬†

6. If I support your candidacy, will you return my calls, read & respond to my emails, &/or meet with me (if necessary) to discuss an issue of importance? i.e. Will you be my/our representative? 

~ I will always do my best to be open to dialogue with Burbank residents, whether through emails, telephone or in person. I truly hope to be a voice for my community. We may not always see eye to eye on every issue, however it is important to have reasonable, open discussions about things that matter the most to Burbank. 

7. Would you make any changes to the current Public Comment period at Council meetings or leave it “as is”? (Please specify any changes)¬†

~ I believe the Council Meetings have become unnecessarily long, which sometimes means the agenda items are discussed well into the night and even sometimes past midnight. I believe this is due in large part to an inordinate amount of time being devoted to public comment. I believe that on the vast majority of issues, a citizen’s point can be made within 3 minutes. Thus I would favor shortening the public comment time to 3 minutes, and strongly urge those participants to not repeat what has already been said. This is not to in any way squash free speech, but to help the council members stay focused on the agenda items.¬†

8. Accountability and open/transparent Government is important to most people. What steps will you take to ensure Staff’s responsiveness to information requests and the public’s access to documentation under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act)?¬†

~ Currently, everything that comes before City Council on Tuesday nights is open for review via the City of Burbank website and I believe in the City Clerks office as well as the main public library. I’m in support of open/transparent government.¬†

9. What specific cuts in spending will you propose in order to overcome our projected $7 million dollar plus budget deficit in 2009? Can you balance the Budget without raising utility rates or dramatically cutting City services? Will you hold City Department heads accountable for wasteful spending & inefficiencies? 

~ I don’t believe there is any one answer to the projected budget deficit. I think we need to look for varying solutions to the problem. I will look at every solution to the deficit before considering a rise in our utility rates (with the exception of water). I will look at ways to be more efficient, look to not cut any programs, but possibly look at under utilized portions of a program or low priority parts of a program to temporarily cut back on. I would be open to regionalization of services to help share the costs with our neighboring cities, so long as the quality of the service does not suffer.¬†

As for our water bills, I can’t make any promises. I know this is not a popular answer, but for the sake of being transparent, we are several years into a drought with our reservoirs being used up at a rapid pace. Even with the city’s efforts in helping residents voluntarily cut back on their water usage, we are looking at increases in our water bills. I hate to sound like an alarmist and be a bearer of bad news, but the reality of it is, we will most likely see a rise in our water rates over the next couple of years.¬†

10. With all of the recent business closures and job losses, what can we do as a community to maintain a vibrant local economy? What would you do to encourage employers to hire locally and the public to shop & dine locally? 

~ I like the idea of continuing to use City’s existing programs that help Burbank businesses continue to thrive, such as “Team Business” partnerships, Business Bootcamp workshops, “Business Bucks”, ect.¬†
I think the city’s partnering up with the Chamber of Commerce with the idea of ongoing round table discussions with city executives and business owners, as well as exploring the idea of a “city business trade show” may help our local businesses as well. I’m also open to “Buying in Burbank” campaigns, such as the “Buck Stop’s Here” over the holidays, in which some of the local businesses give special discounts for shopping in their stores.¬†

11. There’s been some controversy over the past few years re the use of Redevelopment Funds for certain projects, most notably BHC & FSA. Where do you stand on these matters? How would you maximize our Redevelopment dollars to improve Burbank.¬†

~ To be honest, I’m still learning about the different criteria that must be met to spend redevelopment funds, so I can’t say for certain how or when I would agree to spend redevelopment funds. I can say for certainty, that I have appreciated the city’s partnership with some of our non-profits in Burbank, such as FSAB and BTAC. Helping these organizations better serve the whole of our community, in my opinion, is a worthy investment.¬†

With regards to any development in Burbank, whether it be with redevelopment funds or not, I will always decide on a case-by-case basis, especially being mindful of any negative impacts a development will have on the surrounding neighborhoods. 

12. With imminent budget cuts to School district funds, what if anything can you do to work with BUSD to ensure our children’s educational needs are met, as well as our school’s infrastructure needs?¬†

~ Unfortunately, I don’t believe the City is in any position to financially help out BUSD. However, the City has done a good job in partnering with our school district in the past. I would be open to more joint efforts with the district, much in the same way we have done with the JBHS field and stadium, BHS field and the Jordan Middle School renovation and parking lot.¬†

13. Do you support Term Limits? Would you support a ballot measure that would allow the people of Burbank to vote on this issue? Will you vow to serve no more than 2 full terms? 

~ I personally am not for term limits, because I feel the people have the power to vote a candidate in or out, regardless of how long a person has served on city council. However, I don’t feel really strong about this, and I would be open to putting this particular issue to a vote amongst our residents. I would trust the democratic process on this one and support what the majority would like.¬†

14. Where do you stand on Airport related matters such as the Part 161 Study, the possibility of noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport, the B-6 Property and a new relocated terminal? 

~ I am against airport expansion. I am in support of the FAA Part 161 Process that requests noise relief through a mandatory night-time curfew. I am against noisy stage-2 aircrafts being re-directed from Van Nuys Airport. I am in support of a safer, quieter airport. If making the airport safer through modernization is needed, I would be open to those possibilities, in that they do not increase the number of gates, nor increase the air and vehicle traffic of the airport. I think we have a nice airport that serves our community well. I don’t wish to see it expanded.¬†

15. Re the Environment; What specific things can we do that we aren’t already doing to improve our air quality and be more eco-friendly?¬†

~ The city is doing quite a bit toward bettering our environment by following as closely as possible to suggestions in the UN urban accords. We have a top-notch recycling center and our city has made it a priority to invest in alternative fuel vehicles. I am open to new ideas of sustainability. I think we can focus on making our city a more walk-able, bicycle friendly place, and also protect the open spaces we have. However, being green isn’t always cheap. I would prefer not to raise taxes of our residents in order to be green. I have faith that Burbank residents will step up voluntarily to do a better job of reducing, reusing and recycling, in its efforts to be a cleaner, healthier city.¬†

Contact Elise Stearns-Niesen: 
Phone: 818-843-5473 
Web site: Elise Stearns web site

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