18 Months Off, There’s Already Buzz About West Hollywood’s City Council Super Bowl

Gossip west hollywood city councilIn our little burg, WeHo dodgeball offers the only truly local sports teams to follow. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that politics is really West Hollywood’s favorite sport — at least among the 5,303 of us who bothered to vote in last March’s municipal election (20 percent of registered voters).

That may explain why, with the next West Hollywood City Council election 18 months away, the political cognoscenti already are buzzing about the lineup for WeHo’s own Super Bowl.

For those of you who view the City Council members as West Hollywood’s version of the Kardashians, listed below are a few of the questions being gossiped about. Remember, gossip by definition isn’t based on verifiable fact. But also remember, where there is smoke, there usually is some kind of fire.

1) Will John Heilman, a member of the council since the city’s incorporation in 1984, step down next year on West Hollywood’s 30th anniversary?

2) Will Abbe Land, who has served nearly 21 years on the council, also decline to seek re-election, citing her work at the Trevor Project as the reason?

3) Is Sam Borelli, who pretty much tied for fourth place with Christopher Landavazo in the last election for two council seats, being groomed to replace Land?

4) Is Heidi Shink, a member of the local Democratic Party establishment recently named to an at-large seat on the city’s influential Planning Commission, being groomed for a council seat? And if so, whose? And will Shink’s connection with Chaz Bono, with whom she once performed in a band, boost her chances in our celebrity-obsessed town?

5) Is Shink already in talks with Steve Afriat, the big business lobbyist who has been involved in managing the campaigns of four of the five council incumbents, about managing a campaign for her?

6) Is Donna Saur, appointed by Councilmember John D’Amico to the Public Facilities Commission and once deputy to the late Councilmember Sal Guarriello, planning a run? And if so, whose seat is she eyeing?

7) If Heilman and Land step down, and Shink and Saur win their seats and D’Amico is re-elected, will council meetings become boring sessions of 5-0 votes now that D’Amico appears to have moved away from his campaign stance as a political reformer?

8) Will the irrepressible Larry Block, whose $9.99 underwear at The Block Party is a hit among young gay partiers in Boystown, be able to garner support for his announced candidacy from the very small segment of them who are politically aware and who vote?

9) What will the WeHo Chamber of Commerce, which gets financial and other support from the City of West Hollywood while also endorsing council candidates and raising campaign funds for them, do about John D’Amico? The Chamber, which has historically taken the safe route and endorsed incumbents, has viewed D’Amico as unfriendly to business because of his successful push for a ban on the sale of fur products.

10) Are Heilman and Prang actually in conversation about campaign reform? The council asked them on March 18 to come back with some reform proposals after D’Amico objected to Heilman’s proposal to bar lobbyists from managing the campaigns of council candidates. That proposal would have given a back seat to Steve Afriat, seen by many as WeHo’s Wizard of Oz for his behind-the-curtain role in raising money for incumbents and managing their campaigns while also lobbying them to vote for development proposals and contracts for his business clients.

The deadline for their report is Sept. 18. But the apparent failure of D’Amico and Councilmember John Duran to ever meet with Christopher Street West for a discussion of concerns about LA Gay Pride after their appointment in January by the council to address those concerns, leaves some wondering if the same thing is happening with campaign reform.

And remember folks, we still have 18 months to go! As we find answers to these questions, we’ll be sure to share them.

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9 years ago

The candidates should represent districts. But most have been bought off and are about as honest as the guys who ran Enron. It is fiefdom and these people, who wouldn’t be chosen prom queen or king, are just the reflective of the political dregs who run Washington. And no minorities. One women and four gay white men. The rainbow city is a joke!

dana miller
dana miller
9 years ago

This is well done. Makes ya think! Is there really any hint that John H would walk away? I’m kinda stunned Abbe has been about for 21 years. Good for her. D’Amico is a great, smart cat. Lucky to have him. And few people care as much as Larry Block. He would be a terrific addition.

Robert Nunez
9 years ago

I believe that campaign finance reform is so much more important than term limits. With term limits, the developers can just buy cheaper candidates. We need to get money out of our City Council campaigns. It’s embarrassing what gets spent on these campaigns and where it comes from.

9 years ago

Larry Block’s potential “nail in the coffin” is that he makes the serious mistake of mentioning Steve Martin’s name in a way that is meant to bolster support.

Steve Martin has been and will continue to be the death of any serious candidate. I’m sure we’ll start hearing his lies, exaggerations and blatant disregard for truth and fairness soon enough.

Warning to any candidate: If you hope to be taken seriously, run from this man as fast as you can.

Dan W.
Dan W.
9 years ago

I would like to echo the call for a mix of districts, at-large and and a directly elected Mayor. I envision a 7-member city council consisting of a directly elected Mayor, four district seats and two at-large seats.

Larry Block
9 years ago

Hi Hank, I hope by irrespressible you meant..’not in anybodys pocket’ and unwilling to be ‘bought’. On another note, – $9.99 underwear is one things.. but bigger than that is that Im Chairman of the Disability Board, stood up for civility challenging Heilman to shake D’amcios hand, planted the seed for term limits knocking on Steve Martins door asking him to write the language, speaking up against the raising of parking meters fees and better public notice, and doing my part to be make this a better community owned by its residents and not the developers and politcial insiders. Thanks… Read more »

Wesley McDowell
Wesley McDowell
9 years ago

Thanks for this cogent synopsis. One small correction… West Hollywood City Council is at large so no one is running for someone’s seat. Personally, I think a mix of at large and district would be good. That way all of the Council wouldn’t be living in the same area. We have 3 distinct areas in Weho; why not have council members from those areas?

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