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Schultz Looks Ahead After Success in Primary

Primary election results signal Burbank Mayor Nick Schultz is the favorite to win Assemblywoman Laura Friedman’s seat in the state Legislature, in a district of many small cities that are trying to deal with big city problems, said Schultz, and one that he says he is uniquely qualified to represent.

The Leader sat down with the candidate to discuss the state’s most pressing issues, his upcoming campaign and his ongoing service to Burbank and the San Fernado Valley region.

One question Schultz gets a lot is, “Why are you leaving Burbank?” The short answer, he said, is that he isn’t.

“I felt that I wasn’t leaving Burbank. I was in fact furthering my commitment to serving this community by taking the next step and saying I’m willing to make the trek to Sacramento every week to ensure that this community … is represented in the Legislature,” he said. “I know that the city is in exceptional hands even if I’m not there next year. But I knew that we needed somebody to step into the huge shoes that Laura Friedman and Anthony Portantino [will] leave in the Legislature, and I felt a duty to do that.”

Schultz keeps a stacked schedule. Between his responsibilities as mayor, and his day job as a deputy attorney general for the state attorney general’s office, he still finds the time to meet as many constituents as possible. Schultz told the Leader that, though his primary results were strong, his campaign is far from over.

“We certainly take nothing for granted and we are going to continue to run a full campaign operation. My goal is to reach every Democratic, ‘decline-to-state,’ and even Republican voters [who] didn’t cast the ballot for me and convince them I’m the right guy for the job,” he said.

In his inaugural speech as mayor in December, Schultz celebrated his victories on the City Council — building back after the pandemic and balancing the budget. He also laid out bold plans for Burbank’s future, with an emphasis on creating a more equitable economy.

His plans on the state level are not so different. Of course, governing from Sacramento poses its own unique challenges, but it also comes with a whole new set of tools, Schultz said.

As a city representative, Schultz said he was limited in how he could directly nurture the local economy.

On City Council, he had some control over sales taxes, parking revenues and other sources of city income, and, of course, the city has the power to implement a localized minimum wage, he said. But cities are far more limited in how they adjust these factors, according to Schultz, who added that cities need to be cognizant of putting businesses or the local workforce at a competitive disadvantage to neighboring cities.

“At the state level, you really can talk about broader strokes policy to make sure that we are adding the housing that we desperately need, putting in place critical tenant protections to prevent the displacement of people, raising wages, benefits and total compensation and recruiting and retaining quality jobs here — not just in this district, but really across the state,” Schultz said.

When asked about the one issue he is most itching to work on, Schultz instead rattled off a detailed manifest of strategies to bolster education funding, provide relief for soaring housing prices, alleviate homelessness, invest in water and power sustainability, implement universal health care and build a more equitable economy.

But the state is in a full-blown budget crisis — the worst in recent history according to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. If Schultz succeeds in winning the 44th Assembly District seat in November’s general election, a growing multibillion dollar state budget shortfall sits between him and his goals.

But Schultz was confident that, if elected, he could help bring state coffers back into balance. In fact, he noted several ways to ease budget stressors until new revenues came in, including deferring one-time expenditures such as low-priority capital improvement projects.

“When I inherited, along with my colleagues, a city budget that was several million dollars in a structural recurring deficit back in 2020, things looked bleak. And all these years later, we’ve turned it around, we now have a structural recurring surplus, forecast for the next five years. So, I am optimistic that I can do that again, although at a much larger scale.”

That happens by putting in place cost-saving measures and doing more with fewer resources, said Schultz, adding “I’ll be the first to look at it and say, let’s cut my pay.”

“Working people right now, between gas, rent and everything, they are taxed to the max. And quite frankly, they just can’t bear any more costs. So, we need to be very careful as we’re developing policy to look at who it impacts. We really need to be safeguarding the middle, and working classes,” said Schultz.

First published in the March 23 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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