The French, who have been around a lot longer than we Americans, like to say: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” If you have any doubt that the more things change, the more they remain the same, consider what’s happening in the campaign for three seats on the West Hollywood City Council.
There has been change. The political dynasty formed by John Heilman, who has served on the Council since the city’s incorporation in 1984, and Abbe Land, his Council sidekick, crumbled in the 2011 election. That’s when challenger John D’Amico beat out Lindsey Horvath, Heilman and Land’s choice for an appointment to fill the seat left empty by the death of Sal Guarriello.
Now Land has announced that she won’t seek re-election in March. And D’Amico appears to be busy creating his own political establishment to replace that of Heilman and Land, throwing his support behind Joe Guardarrama. Guardarrama is lawyer who once served with D’Amico on the Planning Commission and only recently announced his candidacy. On Sunday D’Amico and his husband, Keith Rand, hosted a kick-off event for Guardarrama’s campaign at their home. The co-host for the event was Yvette Inclan, Guardarrama’s cousin and an employee of Fox Networks. The event sought donations of $500 from “hosts,” $250 from “sponsors” and $100 from “guests. “Attendees noted that the color and design of Guardaramma’s campaign signs mimicked that of D’Amico’s.
Among the attendees on Sunday were longtime political operatives such as John Altschul, a lawyer who is D’Amico’s appointee to the Planning Commission and his long-time advisor, and Steve Afriat, the lobbyist and campaign consultant who has been involved in managing the campaigns of every current Council member but D’Amico.
To date none of the other 15 announced candidates have aligned themselves with other candidates. Historically, the large number of challengers for the few Council seats means the vote gets split, making it difficult for any one of them to get sufficient votes to win. In 2011 D’Amico was the exception.