Three City Council seats are up for grabs in Burlingame's November elections, and nine candidates are in the running to fill the vacancies, including two incumbents and one former council member.
Current council members Michael Brownrigg and Mayor Ann Keighran will face off Nov. 5 against former council member Russ Cohen as well as newcomers Nirmala Bandrapalli, Steve Duncan, Alexander Kent, Ricardo Ortiz, Andrew Peceimer and Robert Schinagl.
The candidates for the five-member council presented their positions at a League of Women Voters-sponsored forum last month in Burlingame. Among the key topics discussed were high-speed rail, business development and fiscal responsibility.
The candidates' views seem to overlap on many of Burlingame's hot issues. All seem to agree the city's quality of public services needs to be maintained, high-speed rail should either not come to the city at all or, if it must, it should be as unimposing as possible, and downtown needs to be developed in a way that both benefits local residents and drives up revenue.
Brownrigg touted his fiscal accomplishments and the work he's done over the past four years on Burlingame Avenue. What once was in danger of eroding “into a potholed hodgepodge of cracked sidewalks,” he said, is on its way to becoming “the most interesting avenue between The Embarcadero and Santana Row.”
Peceimer, however, is concerned with the level of civic participation in the area's development.
“The only people who were allowed to vote on it were the commercial property owners there, and now there's reduced parking,” he said.
Peceimer, like many of the candidates, also spoke adamantly against the prospect of high-speed rail going through Burlingame. Keighran, who's currently serving her second term as mayor, believes that if the city is forced to accommodate high-speed rail, it would be less destructive to the town if it were built underground.
Keighran also hopes to bring more business development to downtown, she said, and to put money toward developing a town square. Cohen voiced support for the town square idea, and he also proposed a potential Burlingame history museum.
Several candidates, including entrepreneur and city Planning Commissioner Bandrapalli, vowed to bring in development and increase downtown parking while maintaining the eco-friendliness and small-town character of Burlingame. Lions Club member Duncan, who said he enjoys walking through town and talking with residents “amidst the trees,” hopes to “retain Burlingame's unique environment” while maintaining a balanced budget and providing stellar public services.
A former executive vice president at Oracle, Schinagl spent the past several years working on Burlingame Avenue development, and he said he will bring a “plethora of experience to the table” if elected. Ortiz and Kent both focused their statements on fiscal responsibility, noting that as council member, they would bring a balanced-budget mindset and strong fiduciary ethics.
Council members are elected to four-year terms.