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The death of Burbank mayor prompts changes on city council

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Will Rogers (1957-2018 ) Photo courtesy City of Burbank

Will Rogers (1957-2018 ) Photo courtesy City of Burbank

The death of Burbank mayor prompts changes on city council. Mayor Will Rogers died last Thursday after a battle with cancer. His passing creates a vacant seat on the council as well as requiring some other changes.

Per a news release from Burbank PIO, Simone McFarland, “According to the City Charter, the Vice Mayor shall act as the Mayor Pro Tempe (Tem) through the May 1 reorganization”meeting. So that means Vice Mayor, Emily Gabel-Luddy, moves up into the mayor’s position. Luddy would likely be selected by her colleagues to be mayor for the next year anyway. However, the release did not address the vice-mayor position vacated by Luddy.

The release, which is posted on the city website, did take up the issue of replacing Rogers. The charter gives the council 30 days to fill the vacancy. If it fails to do so, the mayor gets to make the appointment. The council is set to begin the discussion of the process of filling the vacancy at tonight’s council meeting.

Before commenting on the process, some words about Mayor Rogers. In 2015, after a well orchestrated campaign, Rogers won a seat on the council with the most votes of any of the candidates. Luddy came in second, winning re-election, followed by Juan Guillen and Christopher Rizzotti.

After serving as vice-mayor, Rogers was selected as mayor in 2017. He eagerly embraced his duties. Known for his sharp tongue, off the wall remarks, jokes, and unconventional way of presiding over council meetings, Rogers had his detractors. However, not many can really criticize him for his dedication to mayoral responsibilities.

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G -- Mayor Will Rogers discloses liver cancer diagnosis at news conference in front of City Hall in Burbank September 20, 2017

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G — Mayor Will Rogers discloses liver cancer diagnosis at news conference in front of City Hall in Burbank September 20, 2017

Last September, Rogers disclosed his stage 4 liver cancer diagnosis at a news conference in front of City Hall. At the time, there was buzz in B-town that Rogers might be stepping down to focus on his health. That was not the case. Rogers announced he would be reducing his workload, but would continue as mayor. Despite going toe-to-toe with the big “C” , Rogers seemed determined to finish out his term as mayor. He almost made it.

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G -- Flags flying at half-staff on top of City Hall in Burbank April 23, 2018

Photo: FLLewis / Media City G — Flags flying at half-staff on top of City Hall in Burbank April 23, 2018

Flags at city buildings were lowered to half-staff in memory of Rogers. Yesterday, there was a celebration of his life at the Castaway in  Burbank. An obituary for Rogers can be found here.

Now, back to the process of selecting a replacement for Rogers. Council members, Luddy, Bob Frutos, Sharon Springer, and Jess Talamantes will be making the decision, However, council members must take into consideration the will of the voters.

In the 2017 general election, Bob Frutos won re-election and first-timer, Sharon Springer, won the second seat on the council. Dr. David Gordon came in third, followed by Juan Guillen. Both Gordon and Guillen have demonstrated they have support among the voters. Over the years, both have shown a commitment to the community. Both should be at the top of the selection list for the vacant seat.  Guillen would be the best pick to add new ideas and new energy to the council.

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