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Intense battle for two seats on Burbank City Council

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Eight candidates are battling it out for two seats on the Burbank City Council. In the final days of the 2020 campaign, the candidates are utilizing a variety of strategies to win support from the voters.

Who are the 8 city council candidates?

A good launching point to check out the council candidates is the Burbank City website. Under the departments’ drop down go to City Clerk’s Office. Then onto the Elections Page and the 2020 Candidate Information tab. The candidates are listed here in ballot order.

Yard sign for city council candidate Linda Bessin October 8, 2020

Linda Bessin, retired claims analyst, Konstantine Anthony activist/disability services provider, Tamala Takahashi nonprofit administrator/small business owner, Michael Lee Gogin actor/screenwriter, Paul Herman business executive/ property management and commercial real estate, Nick Schultz Deputy Attorney General/ fraud and special prosecutions section of the State Attorney General’s Office, Sharis Manokian local substitute teacher, and Tim Murphy appointed city councilmember/attorney.

Manokian is the only council contender who did not provide a candidate statement. Also, Manokian did not submit the required 460 form to update campaign contributions by last month’s deadline. Burbank City Clerk, Zizette Mullins, explained the omissions: “…she did not raise or spend $2000 or more therefore, she is not required to file form 460 like the rest of the candidates. She also did not wish to include a candidate statement in the sample ballot book.”

Manokian did participate with the other council candidates in putting a statement on video. You can check out those candidate statements on YouTube here. FYI, the city council candidates are in the first 23 minutes, the rest are city treasurer contenders. More on that race later.

Yard sign for city council candidate Paul Herman Burbank October 8, 2020

Herman leads in fundraising

In terms of fundraising for the city council race, Herman surged ahead during the filing period ending September 19, 2020. Up to that point, Herman reportedly raising $37, 018. 87 (includes $2,500 loan).

Earlier this month, the Herman camp amended its 460 form after it was forced to return $1,000 in campaign contributions. This happened because a donor exceeded the maximum limit of $500. Still, Herman remains in the lead with $36, 018.87 (includes $2,500 loan).

Next in line is Schultz with a total of $32,681 (includes $7,000 loan), followed by Anthony with $31,631.67. The rest of the candidates are below $20,000. They are Takahashi with $14,769.83 (which includes a $1,500 loan), Bessin $13,157.69, Murphy $11, 995, and Gogin $7,430 (includes $4,000 loan).

Campaign strategies

Meanwhile, some grumbling around the Media City about the amount of money being spent in this local council race. The high priority put on fundraising is understandable considering the council candidates are fighting just to get noticed in this crowded general election. On the ballot, there are numerous propositions and ballot measures; candidates running for congress, state, and county offices ; and of course, the critical race for the White House.

Mailer sent out by the Nick Schultz for Burbank City Council campaign October 16, 2020

Buying online ads, posting yard signs, sending out mailers, and flyers cost money. Many of the city council candidates are using some or all of these tactics. However, other less costly tactics such as door-knocking can be very effective. Even during the pandemic, door-to-door canvassing is being used in the presidential campaign. Also, the late Will Rogers credited door-knocking of 20,000 homes for helping him win a seat on the Burbank City Council back in 2015.

Important to remember, the candidate who spends the most money doesn’t always win the election. The candidate who gets the most votes wins, no matter how much or little he or she spent campaigning. It is about convincing voters you are the best candidate. It is as simple as that.

Yard sign for city council candidate Tamala Takahashi Burbank October 15, 2020

City council candidates speak out at forum

Meanwhile, the League of Women Voters recent city council candidate forum is a good place to hear all of the candidates speak on some of the important issues. During last month’s forum, the candidates pretty much fell into two categories, old guard/ establishment (Murphy and Herman) and new reality (Bessin, Anthony, Schultz, Takahashi, and Manokian). The new reality challengers spoke of the need for diversity, inclusion (especially renters and younger residents) and the importance of coming up with fresh innovative ways to solving city problems.

Yard sign for council candidate Michael Lee Gogin Burbank October 18, 2020

Straddling the categories, candidate Gogin. Frequently, he repeated his campaign talking points of protecting neighborhoods, support for police and fire, and for the creation of a film commission. Since Burbank has been known as the “Media Capital of the World” for decades you would think it would have a film commission to encourage production and promote entertainment jobs. But it doesn’t. That shows a deep lack of awareness by both city council and staff.

Bottom line. If you change the make-up of the city council, you’ll change how the city operates and who benefits the most. During the forum, I think Bessin said it best: “… we need to make sure the city council is there for all of Burbank.”

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