Twenty years later, he's running for an unprecedented sixth term.
“We have to have a clean house,” said Irma Loose, a 28-year resident of the city and a Golonski critic. “He's been so long in the political area that he doesn't even have to walk the pavement to be reelected.”
But during the primary, Golonski raked in 4,113 votes, his lowest return ever since his first primary election in 1993, when he collected 3,274 votes.
If elected April 9, Golonski would be the first councilman in Burbank's 102-year history elected to six consecutive full terms. Runner-up is James Lapsley, whose reign on the council ran from 1926 to 1949, with a two-year hiatus starting in 1931.
“I wish he was still around so I could call him for some advice,” Golonski joked recently.
When he ran in 2009, Golonski had said that a fifth term would likely be his last.
“I anticipate being ready to move on after that,” he said at the time. “Hopefully we'll have a council ready to take everything on, and the country will be in better economic times.”
But now, he says there's still work to do.
“I've worked really, really hard to make sure we have conservative, smart, economic fiscal policies that would keep us strong,” Golonski said. “We're facing the biggest challenge to that, ever. I really believe that my experience and knowledge could be beneficial in helping to chart a strong path for the community's future.”
At two recent forums, council candidates were asked to weigh in on term limits.
Incumbent Jess Talamantes and challenger David Nos both said they would support them.
“There may be good people with new ideas and new thoughts that won't run because they feel they won't have a chance,” Nos said.
Incumbent David Gordon said he's generally opposed.
But, he added, “sometimes when people are around for a long time, they get a little bit too comfortable in their seats and they feel like they own the place — and they don't. In this city, it's made me pause about my opposition to term limits.”
Golonski, meanwhile, defended his decades on the council at Thursday's forum.
“Would you disqualify somebody because they had experience … or would you look at that as a benefit?” Golonski asked. “If someone isn't doing the job, I think voters have the capability to vote them out.”
Alan Arzoian, who owns Burbank's Handy Market and donated $100 to Golonski, said that while he supports the idea of term limits, he values the experience Golonski brings to the council.
“As somebody who is hoping for the best for the city, I sort of want to go with what's been tried and already has worked,” said Arzoian. “I can understand why people are saying you've had your turn at it, now let somebody else have it, but is this the right time now?”
For some, term limits — which would require a public vote to change the city charter — may not be the answer, but 20 years is “definitely enough.”
“There comes a point where it's just time for new blood and new ideas,” said resident and City Hall critic David Piroli.