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Mayor David Gordon: Tackling Unemployment Issues

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As we celebrate KCET's 50th anniversary, we are visiting your community to ask you, what makes you love California and how we can envision a better future for all. The following was recorded at the Burbank Ice Rink, December 2014. For more and to participate in our next 50 years, join us at kcet.org/50.

"I'm Dr. David Gordon, Mayor of the City of Burbank. I've been mayor since May 1st of this year and I've also been an optometrist in town since 1982. I am currently serving on council after 8 years, when I was first elected in 2006 and I am very pleased to be here this evening.

"I first came to California way back in 1965 kind of like the Beverly Hillbillies, my family put us all in a car and we drove across from New York to California. Not initially to Burbank but to nearby North Hollywood and eventually wound up in the west San Fernando Valley, where I attended El Camino Real High School, when it was a new school and there after I went on to UCLA and UC Berkeley, became an optometrist and by fluke of events I wound up back in Burbank fell in love with it and it's been my home since 1983.

"Originally when I came to Burbank I had no idea where city hall was. It wasn't until there were issues about parking and traffic near my office where I located city hall and got involved and that started a whole series of events, where I eventually served on the planning board and in various committees and then was elected to the city council where I have been since 2006.

"I think the most rewarding part of being mayor in the City of Burbank is positive recognition of the community. When people come up to me spontaneously at the market or in the bank and say "Thanks for helping us out" or "Thanks for doing this" or "Thanks for speaking out for us on this item," and that really is what it's about for me. It's not about any big financial gain, it's more about serving the community and having them recognize that you're in touch with their needs and desires and you're supporting them and they're the people we are elected to serve.

"The City of Burbank has always been a beautiful city. It remains a beautiful city and one of the strongest tasks I have in front of me is to preserve it as a beautiful city. It's geared towards our families; it's geared towards our nice neighborhoods. The quality of life here is unsurpassed, we have tremendous parks, we have tremendous schools.

"The State of California, I think one of the biggest problems we face is unemployment issues and persistence. As mayor I have initiated what we call a Work Force Training Initiative. We're trying to make sure that our students finishing school are both college prepared and career ready. So they don't come out of high school and they can't find a job. They don't go to college and have a college debt and they can't pay it back because they're unemployable."

"It's not a government program. It's not just an investment of a company. It's a community based program we're partnering with our local school board, our Chamber of Commerce, community colleges, local investment boards, various non-profit organizations to bring the community together and also to give ownership to the community so people feel like they're part of the process because this is an ongoing need. Otherwise we're going to see our jobs leaving for overseas or we're going to be importing people to do these jobs. We have the talent, we have the skills, we have the resources and we need to prepare the training infrastructure so that we have the best trained and skilled workforce in the world. And if we do that we'll be number one in any economic contest and that's good for our city, it's good for the state, it's good for our country."

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