I Voted . . .

By Amanda Biers-Melcher

On Sunday, as my husband and I walked to the library on Victory to vote, I thought about all the times I walked there with my daughter — who turns twenty-two this week — in her Winne-the-Pooh Rumbly Racer.

After we dropped our ballots in the box, we stood for a minute and watched kids playing on the playground. The plastic dinosaurs were gone, as were the metal slides that got hot in the sun, replaced with twisty ones that look more like water slides. But the sand? Oh, it was still there — waiting to be poured out of sneakers by younger moms and dads.

On the walk back home I thought about what it was like to raise our children in Burbank. I thought about the times we spread picnic blankets out on the grass for “Robbo” concerts and animal shows or loaded up on library books after Story Time. I thought about twenty years of playdates and parties on Burbank’s playgrounds. Of early morning and late night baseball games on each and every one of Burbank’s ball fields. Of Parks and Recs classes and camps. Of family bike rides down the Chandler Bike Path on our way to the Donut Hut.

I thought about how lucky we were to live here these last two decades. And I thought about how I want the young families I see pushing strollers down my street to have the same opportunity to create happy memories my family did. And about how I want their elderly parents to be able to remain engaged in and supported by the community like mine are. And about how I want them to know their neighbors and look out for each other the way my neighbors and I do — and take comfort in the fact that, when they call the police or fire department, help will be at their door within minutes.

I want them to know that Burbank is a town where neighbors stop to chat when they’re out walking the dog. And where kids can ride their bikes to school. And where friends and neighbors come from all walks of life and represent a kaleidoscope of ethnicities — yet we still manage to find common ground.

Because that’s the Burbank I know. And that’s the Burbank I thought about when I cast my vote for Tim Murphy and Tamala Takahashi.

The next few years will not be easy for our small city. In fact, your vote in this City Council race might be the most important one you cast.

I voted for two candidates who, I believe, are willing to make a commitment to doing their very best for all of Burbank. The candidates who are willing to put the work in and follow through. Who are about action, not just words and empty gestures.

I hope you will do the same.

I did not vote for Paul Herman because I think developers already have too much of a voice in how this city is governed and that vision of Burbank is not one I share.

I did not vote for Konstantine Anthony because, in my opinion, he is not qualified for the job and electing him to the City Council would be ineffective at least — and disastrous at worst — for a number of reasons.

Maybe we don’t need a Wharton MBA on the City Council, but we do need somebody with at least some financial savvy as we try to simultaneously revitalize the local economy and plug the budget gap. Not only does Mr. Anthony seem not to have any relevant professional experience creating or managing budgets, he has demonstrated an inability to manage his personal finances.

That Mr. Anthony has said he’s declared bankruptcy is not, in and of itself, disqualifying for me. With onerous student loans, the housing crisis, medical expenses and a fraying social net, I believe such bankruptcy protections are necessary— an option you turn to as a last resort, when your situation gets desperate. I would never fault someone for falling on hard times and looking for a way to start over. But I would think twice about putting that person in charge of my city’s financial future if I did not see evidence that he’d made the most of the fresh start he was given. 

Likewise, I would not automatically count someone out because a warrant was issued for his arrest almost twenty years ago. (Santa Clara County Superior Court — Number: BB304274 Filing Date: 11/26/2003). Driving on a suspended license and skipping a hearing seem, to me, to be rather victimless crimes. But I might ask — what does the fact that the judge set bail at $8,000 (which is not a small sum) say about his opinion of Mr. Anthony’s willingness to take responsibility for his actions? 

I know a lot of the things Mr. Anthony talks about — social justice, equity, the environment, raising up the most disenfranchised members of our community — are things many of us believe should be addressed at the community level. He articulates a worldview which we, as progressives, embrace. But, I believe positioning himself as the one “woke” candidate in the race is simply a tactic to win over (especially) younger voters. It strikes me as insincere and downright cynical.

It’s easy to say the right things. But grandstanding is not the same as putting the hard work in to achieve change. Just look at how quickly Mr. Anthony lost interest in the rent control measure he used as a launching pad for his City Council race. Talk to members of the Magnolia Park merchants association — who will tell you about how he showed up long enough to make a video taking credit for the work they were doing to promote small businesses — and then promptly disappeared. 

Are there are other candidates in the race who lean left like Mr. Anthony? Yes. And they have put in the time to craft consistent policies that reflect that. Policies they might actually be able to help implement at the city level. They’ve served on city-wide committees that promote equity. They don’t just talk about change. They put in the time and do the work that change requires. 

I know many of us are frustrated that our local government doesn’t seem to work for all of us and a candidate who talks about upending the system might seem appealing. But, when we have a five-member council, and decisions require a majority vote, is the solution to elect a candidate with whom the rest of the Council refuses to work? A candidate who actually sued the city a few months ago — and has many more enemies in city government than friends? I honestly can’t see how anyone might believe a vote for such a candidate could serve their family’s interests.

We need someone to put in the work to implement policies which serve our entire community. Someone who demonstrates competence, commitment and character.

I don’t think that is something we can expect from Mr. Anthony. Governing is a lot harder than campaigning. It means working with others and listening, not just talking. 

We can’t go back in time to the Burbank that was and, honestly, I am not sure we should. We can be a greener, kinder, fairer city. We can be a city that works for every family in Burbank. But only if we elect City Council candidates we can count on to do the work, keep their commitments and hold themselves accountable to the voters who put them there.

Now, go vote.

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