What a Ride II!

Now, the second part’s over, too.  The Burbank General Election took place on Tuesday April 14.  Three of the six people who’d advanced from the Primary were elected.  I was not one of them.  But the last six months of all-election-all-the-time have produced much grist for my article mill.  Today, I’ll just provide a broad description.  Then at least two more pieces will follow the April 24th season’s coverage.

The last seven weeks once again were, at turns– chaotic, enraging, funny, heart-wrenching, hectic, illuminating, inspiring, insulting, intriguing, satisfying, thrilling– and the list could probably go on.

Largely simultaneously, the Glendale Elections were in full swing and impacted Burbank.  Some of those volunteering in my campaign went to help others in Glendale.  Also, given the heated Armenian flavor of the Glendale races, rooted in the growing Armenian presence in that city and the xenophobia and the political opportunism it engenders, Burbank was affected too.

I was directly queried about “Armenians taking over” Burbank, unspoken subtext “like Glendale”.  A Burbank teacher supporting her former fourth grade student, now a Burbank candidate, said to me during our conversation when I knocked on her door “there are still pinheads in Burbank who won’t vote for someone they’re Korean, or Armenian, or Black;”  I knew this going in.  I’d gotten people’s opinions on this, with the worst estimate being that 10% of Burbankians would never vote for an Armenian candidate.  I got a late e-mail stating “You’re the last person I’d vote for”, with no reason given as to why that was the case.

The results, available on Burbank’s website, were largely consistent with the primary.  Second and third place finishers flipped places, but the remaining order stood firm– more on numbers after the results are certified.  Similarly, Armenian participation seems to have held steady.

An interesting numbers-related phenomenon, wherein only two-thirds of those voting in the Primary also vote in the General, may have been explained.  As we were doing our last minute push with Armenian voters, many claimed to have voted (remember, Burbank’s is an all mail ballot), though according to the lists provided by the City Clerk, they had not.  Then we realized it was the Primary they were thinking of.  The same misconception may exist in the overall voting public as well.  If so, this points out the need for better voter education.  Some must come from the Clerk, while the rest from those campaigning.

But, since the imposition of Burbank’s appropriately strict campaign contribution limits, campaigning has languished since it’s tough to raise money.  This is something I am proud of.  Because we were able to raise a respectable war-chest (despite the sour economy), we campaigned in earnest and got some calls asking about the process from people we didn’t know, i.e. they were not close supporters/volunteers.

We also got wind of some slurs and misrepresentations hurled my campaign’s way, but did not respond.  We even refrained from extensively exposing one candidate’s total absence from municipal voting until that person’s own name was on the ballot.

One of the most frustrating things about the campaign was its shortage of forums/debates.  This was a campaign of monologues, candidate to voter, except for the admittedly extensive door-to-door efforts candidates made.  But this is limited to those who happen to be home.  I have high hopes that future Burbank elections will feature many more such opportunities for voters to observe candidates in action, not statically on a piece of paper.

Finally, an interesting feature of one set of city employee unions’ mail pieces was featuring one of their endorsees extensively, while restricting mention of the other to the barest picture and statement of endorsement of the two candidates they were supporting.  This elicited many chuckles.

More on Burbank’s (i.e. my) election and Glendale’s disastrous results in a few weeks, stay tuned.  Meanwhile, those in California should stay tuned for the May 19 Special Election which will have a significant impact on the state’s financial future.  Be sure to vote in that one, your sample ballots may well arrive before you see this article.

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