Days after the election, Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz continued late this week to be the front-runners for two seats on the Burbank City Council, though Tamala Takahashi added suspense to the race by hovering in third place. Anthony’s expected presence on the council would be only the latest development in his complicated relationship with the city: If he clinches victory, the disability services provider will have gone from suing Burbank this year to joining its lead panel in December. As of the most recent update from Los Angeles County on Thursday evening, Anthony had 15,222 votes, or 20.7% of the total of votes counted, while Schultz had 11,328 votes, or 15.4%. If their leads hold, the two will sit on the council for the next four years. Takahashi was not far behind, however, nabbing 10,862 votes, or 14.77%, in the Tuesday election in which eight candidates vied.
A recent surge of new COVID-19 cases around the nation has Burbank Unified School District officials coming to grips with the possibility that the majority of its students will not be allowed to return to campus for in-person instruction this academic year. The district recently committed to distance learning through the remainder of the first semester and staff members have been refining a hybrid model that would bring back students at a limited capacity. However, a current trend in coronavirus cases had the board of education questioning whether it is best to continue working on a hybrid schedule or shift the focus to enhancing the distance learning experience. In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ranking system, Los Angeles County remains in Tier 1, a classification that indicates a widespread risk of COVID-19 infection and keeps schools closed. The county would have to meet the next tier’s thresholds for two weeks to move into Tier 2, which indicates substantial risk of infection.
With millions of votes counted in Los Angeles County, some local candidates have appeared to take the lead in their races, while a controversial rent regulation measure faces steep opposition so far.
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office last updated figures at a little before 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13. The office said Tuesday night that there was an estimated 142,715 ballots left to count, not including votes postmarked by Election Day and received through Nov. 20. About 69,500 of the ballots left to count were mail-in ballots, including those deposited in a drop box.
Though the Burbank Unified School District made the decision to continue exclusively with distance learning for the wide majority of students through the remainder of the semester, staff members gave stakeholders an idea of what in-person instruction in a world of COVID-19 could look like. Superintendent Matt Hill and other staff members hosted a virtual session on Wednesday about the possible reopening of schools and fielded questions from parents. Right off the bat, Hill said the district is “not expecting any changes right now for this current semester” and that staff is planning for a return to campus when permissible by health officials. “The earliest that we would [reopen campuses] is January,” he said, “but we are not saying January is when we would do that. We do not have a date right now because health conditions change frequently.”
The Burbank City Council voted this week to condemn Azerbaijani aggression in the mostly Armenian region of Artsakh, a disputed area over which Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have clashed. Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh, includes the Hadrut province, with which Burbank declared a friendship in 2014. Reported violence by Azerbaijani forces in Artsakh has been the focus of widespread protests and rallies recently, with the Armenian flag becoming a not-uncommon sight in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The panel’s unanimous vote also directed city staff members to send a letter of support from the council for a potential U.S. House of Representatives resolution, House Resolution 1165, that would condemn Azerbaijan’s military’s actions in Artsakh. The resolution’s authors include Reps. Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman, who represent Burbank.
Though daily numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are better than those of the summer, they are not good enough for Los Angeles County to consider reopening nonessential businesses and schools. So Superintendent Matt Hill recommended Thursday to the local board of education that Burbank Unified School District campuses continue exclusively with distance learning for the wide majority of students through the fall semester. The move will give the district staff more time to work on protocols to be better prepared to reintroduce students and teachers to campus when the time comes.
Every weekday morning, Joaquin Miller Elementary School teacher Ericca Dent greets her 2nd-graders by name and checks in on their emotional state by asking them to use their thumbs to express how they are feeling. “Most students are thumbs up, but there are times it’s sideways or thumbs down,” she said. Dent does the same to let the students know how she’s feeling and certainly had her thumb up on Friday, Oct. 2, after being congratulated by her class for being one of 10 educators named 2020-21 Teacher of the Year by Los Angeles County. “A number of them congratulated me, and that was really sweet,” Dent said. “It definitely is an amazing feeling. Looking back at so much of the hard work I’ve done and the work with my students and being recognized, I’m honored and humbled for sure. It’s a great feeling.” The L.A. County Office of Education held a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 1, to honor the winners. Dent will receive a $1,000 cash gift from the California Credit Union and a $350 gift certificate for school supplies.
During her freshman year, Nadaly Jones recalled the then-Associated Student Body president was “gung-ho” about discussing the possibility of changing the John Burroughs High School mascot, the Indian. She has since taken that mantle and is determined to accomplish what her predecessors could not. “I want to change it,” Jones said. “It’s about time. I had teachers last year who were also trying to change it. I wanted to get the ball rolling again.” Jones has done just that as ASB representatives, and after much deliberation, recently voted in favor of continuing the discussion by presenting the issue to the student body. “The first night was interesting, but it was also hard because it was online,” Jones said. “A lot of people were iffy speaking up to it, but we did have really good discussions and brought up both sides of the topic.”
In the first six months of this year, City Council candidate Paul Herman had raised only $2,500 — a single loan he himself had given to his campaign. Less than two months later, he had raised more than $36,000. With that total, Herman became the candidate with the largest campaign coffers through Sept. 19, the most recent contribution reporting deadline, and surpassed Nick Schultz, the previous leader in contributions this year, who trailed at about $32,700. Close behind him was Konstantine Anthony, who had raised roughly $31,600. Contributions totaling tens of thousands of dollars for the local election are nothing new; in 2015, current Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy’s campaign collected nearly $25,000. But records available on the city’s website, which go as far back as 2013, don’t show dollar figures as high as the ones seen in this year’s race.
With only a month until the Nov. 3 general election, local candidates have shifted into high gear, fighting for the prospect of a seat in City Hall or on the Burbank Unified School District board. The candidates participated Wednesday in a series of forums, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank, allowing the contenders to answer major questions posed by the group as well as some submitted by local residents. The forums were streamed and are available on the Burbank Channel on YouTube. Eight people are looking to nab one of two open seats on the City Council. New council members elected in November will have their positions for four years. Four people are vying to win one of three open BUSD Board of Education seats, also held for four years. Each candidate previously submitted a statement to the Leader. These statements can be found at outlooknewspapers.com. Here is an abridged overview of the topics the candidates were asked about. For the City Council candidate forum, each question was given to only some of the candidates, though all had the opportunity to respond to any question at the end of the forum.