Mayor John D’Amico’s willingness to host a campaign kickoff event last Sunday at his home for Joe Guardarrama annoyed several other candidates in the March 2015 race for the West Hollywood City Council.
They took it as a sign that D’Amico was endorsing Guardarrama (as did WEHOville). Given D’Amico’s position as an incumbent and his role as mayor, none were willing to go public with their annoyance. But D’Amico clarified his role in the event this morning, saying he had not endorsed Guardarrama and that he’d be happy to host an event for any candidate for City Council. His intention, he said, is to encourage all candidates for the three Council seats, leaving the decision as to who should be elected up to the voters.
D’Amico noted that the event took place at his home because he has been a friend of Guardarrama for some 18 years. But he didn’t organize it or choose the guests.
D’Amico said his willingness to host a kickoff event for Guardarrama or other candidates is part of an effort to increase civic engagement in West Hollywood, encouraging more and better candidates to run for office and more residents to register to vote.
He noted that Monday’s City Council agenda will include a proposal by him that the city implement a voter registration drive. If approved, the city would launch a social media campaign to encourage residents to vote. It also would provide links to an online voter registration form (which can be accessed here) in every email sent by a city staffer, include voter registration forms in all citywide mailings 90 days before the election and make those forms available at all city meetings.
Another challenge for the city is voter turnout. In the 2013 City Council election, only 20 percent of the city’s 26,394 voters cast ballots. Only 14 percent of West Hollywood voters cast ballots in this past June’s primary election.