Burbank City Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy, who has twice served as the community’s mayor and vice mayor, said this week she won’t seek reelection in November, but Councilman Timothy Murphy has confirmed he will seek another term.
Gabel-Luddy, who was first elected in 2011 and whose second term on the panel ends in December, made the announcement during Tuesday’s council meeting.
Since the council was discussing candidate statement fees for the municipal election, members who would be participating in the election had to “step out” of the virtual meeting to avoid a possible conflict of interest. Murphy left the meeting, and on Friday he told The Leader he’ll be a candidate again.
Gabel-Luddy, in a statement emailed Thursday, said: “For nearly 20 years it has been my privilege to serve our community either as a member of the Planning Board or as a council member. It has been tremendously rewarding to serve alongside my colleagues and city staff as we worked to make Burbank the best it could be while helping residents and businesses achieve their goals.
“The advent of COVID caused me to take stock, and with that length of service in mind, I determined to step aside. While it was not an easy decision, it is the best path forward.”
She added that she “will continue to help in whatever manner is most appropriate.”
About eight potential candidates, including Murphy, have notified the city clerk of their intent to run for council. Krystle Palmer, the city’s treasurer, is also running for reelection in November.
Potential candidates must submit documents confirming their nomination — for example, signatures and information about their economic interests — between July 13 and Aug. 7. To be eligible to run for a city office, a candidate must have been a Burbank resident for at least 29 days prior to filing for nomination or declaring candidacy, and must be registered to vote in Burbank.
Potential candidates must obtain between 50 and 100 signatures from voters to be eligible to run.
CITY WILL CHIP IN
After some debate, council members agreed to authorize the city to pay for candidate statements in two of the four languages the city is required to publish them in.
The city will reimburse Los Angeles County for the cost of translating and distributing statements in Armenian and Thai, while the candidates will pay for statements in English and Spanish.
The county requires election materials to be printed in English and Spanish, and Burbank is also required to print them in the two other languages. Candidates are not required to submit a statement, but statements that are submitted must be printed in all four mandated languages.
A statement of 200 words is estimated at $1,600 each for English and Spanish, meaning candidates who choose to submit a statement will have to pay roughly $3,200.
However, that cost may fluctuate according to the number of registered voters, City Clerk Zizette Mullins explained to the council members. About two-thirds of Burbank’s residents were registered to vote in the March primary election.
Mullins also explained in a phone call to The Leader that, since the cost of translating and distributing the statements in Thai and Armenian depends heavily on the number of residents who request their materials in those languages, it is very difficult to estimate how much the city will pay for each of those languages.
In previous years, the city has subsidized candidates $300 for statements in English while absorbing the costs for the other languages. However, Mullins told council members, because of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is looking to cut costs where possible.
The current election cost is estimated at $325,000, not including translation costs, mandated notices and voter outreach material.
Mullins added that when her office surveyed 41 California cities, 35 reported that they required candidates to pay the full cost of their statements.
Some council members wanted to have candidates pay the whole cost, with Councilman Bob Frutos expressing optimism that the fees wouldn’t discourage anyone from running for public office.
“The subsidy doesn’t make the quality of the candidate,” he said during the meeting, noting that he was elected to council after raising barely $8,000 in campaign funds. “The community will elect who they feel is the best candidate regardless.”
However, Mayor Sharon Springer worried that because of the economic effects of the pandemic, potential campaign donors might hesitate to reach for their wallets. Subsidizing the cost of the candidate statements, she said, could diversify the pool of contenders.
“When I ran, I was not an incumbent. … I paid $962 because I was subsidized that $300, and I feel like it enables somebody to run who might not otherwise run,” she told her colleagues. “Because we’re talking a lot of money.”
Council members decided on a compromise, unanimously agreeing — except for Murphy, who abstained — to split the cost of the statements with the candidates.
Mullins also reminded the panel that the resolution distributing the costs of the candidate statements comes before them before each election, meaning they could resume the subsidy in the future.