Burlingame City Council candidates will have their first chance to impress potential voters during a debate tonight as candidates have already drawn battle lines over some key issues.
Five Burlingame City Council candidates will be vying for two spots this November. Mayor Terry Nagel and Councilmember Russ Cohen will be running for re-election against three newcomers.
A lack of decision-making by the current council on such projects as the Safeway renovation has caused progress to stall in Burlingame, candidates Gene Condon and Planning Commission Chair Jerry Deal both say.
“My daughter was in elementary school when it started, and now she’s leaving for college,” Condon said.
Nagel disagreed, saying it was important to take the time to hear everyone’s opinion on projects and that the Safeway renovation is on the right track.
Condon, Deal and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Peter Comaroto also said residents should not have to pay for sidewalks broken apart by city-owned trees, as they currently do in accordance with an ordinance passed by the current council. Although state law dictates property owners are responsible for fixing the sidewalks, Burlingame paid for the expense up until three years ago when the economy tightened up.
Comaroto also accused current council members of spending too much time on “nice-to-have” projects such as Centennial Plaza and not enough on critical infrastructure needs like sidewalk repairs.
Increasing the number of businesses in the city is also a priority, Deal said.
“Businesses have said they’ve had second thoughts on coming to Burlingame because they think the city is not business-friendly,” Deal said. “They say Burlingame has too many bureaucratic obstacles.”
Nagel added that she would like to see balanced growth in the city, for which she would hold high standards, in order that expensive projects would still help Burlingame maintain its small-town feel.
Cohen said there really were not any key issues in this debate, which he said was a testament to the job performance of the current council.
Comaroto, who holds a commanding lead in campaign contributions, wants to build a new, seismically safe community center for youths and seniors. He also wants to provide teachers, police and firefighters with affordable living options.
The Burlingame debate will be at Burlingame Intermediate School on 1715 Quesada Way at 7 p.m. Candidate forums that will feature questions from the audience will be held Oct. 17 and Oct. 23.