Lindsey Horvath was sworn in as West Hollywood’s new mayor Monday night in a celebrity-filled event, albeit a virtual event due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Activist and Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda administered the oath of office to Horvath, while openly gay country singer Chely Wright started the ceremony by singing the national anthem, something traditionally not done at a City Council meeting. Meanwhile, Mayor Pete Buttigeig, a former candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, offered encouraging words for the new mayor.
“I’m so honored,” Fonda said of being asked to perform the swearing in.
“I’m so grateful,” Horvath quickly replied as she raised her hand to take the oath.
Upon completing the swearing in, Fonda said, “Congratulations Lindsey, you’re going to be a great mayor!” The two know each other from One Billion Rising, the global movement which seeks to end to violence against women and girls.
In a prerecorded video message, Buttigeig told Horvath, “I believe that local leaders, especially mayors, have never been more important. At a time of so much uncertainty and pain, your work is going to be vital throughout this pandemic and the recovery efforts that are going to last for months and years to come.”
The openly gay Buttigeig is the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., the home of Notre Dame University, which is where Horvath received her undergraduate degree in political science and gender studies in 2004 (but Buttigeig was not the mayor at that time).
During her speech, Horvath acknowledged the challenge ahead of reopening West Hollywood as we all adjust to life in the time of the coronavirus.
“It’s no secret we’ll need to create a new normal in response to the COVID-19 emergency,” the 37-year-old Horvath said. “Some things we took for granted, we now have to take very seriously. We need to be methodical in how we reopen West Hollywood and make sure we’re not creating more problems than we are solving.”
Horvath called on residents to offer ideas for how to reopen and rebuild the city.
“We are artists and inventors. Invocation and creativity in this new era will be essential,” she said. “Not all ideas are going to come from City Hall. In fact, they shouldn’t. We need your help to help us rebuild.”
She pledged to work on the combined problem of homelessness and COVID-19 as well as food insecurity and housing issues. Wearing a white blouse to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, Horvath also promised to continue to work on women’s issues as well as LGBT causes.
She also suggested honoring the city’s history by establishing a “West Hollywood Day” on Nov. 29, the day in 1984 when the city charter was signed.
Horvath also thanked Councilmember John Heilman for being her mayor pro tem, noting that Heilman knows the city best since he has been on the City Council since its beginning in 1984. City Clerk Yvonne Quarker swore Heilman in immediately after Fonda swore in Horvath.
Heilman said he is looking forward to Horvath’s leadership and working with her.
“Your energy and your connections are going to be really important in this upcoming year,” Heilman told Horvath.
Councilmember John Duran commented that Horvath is the face of the new West Hollywood while jokingly adding that he and Heilman are the faces of the old West Hollywood (due to their long tenures on the Council).
Meanwhile, outgoing mayor John D’Amico (who will continue to serve on the Council) told Horvath he is glad their friendship has grown in recent years, while adding he is proud to hand over the reins to her. Councilmember Lauren Meister said she is looking forward to working with Horvath.
During the public comment period, many congratulated Horvath.
Lesbian activist Ivy Bottini, a former West Hollywood resident, sent a special message to Horvath, which resident Karen Eyres read aloud. Bottini’s message was, “You are a surprisingly gutsy woman. Only you would have had the nerve to tell the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to stay the hell out of West Hollywood. Never lose that quality. I know it will continue to serve you and West Hollywood well.”
Additionally, playwright V (formerly known as Eve Ensler), who penned the Vagina Monologues, offered a special video congratulations. She first met Horvath at Notre Dame University.
“I’ve seen you grow from an extraordinary activist into a leader. And now you are mayor,” said V. “We need progressive, radical ideas . . . I want you to know there are many of us who have your back, who are with you, who believe in you and who are pushing you to go all the way and take us to a new time.”
Several other elected dignitaries also offered special congratulations.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn and Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino also joined the teleconferencing meeting via Zoom to praise Horvath.
“Your influence and your leadership go far beyond West Hollywood. You are known throughout L.A. County,” said Hahn. “I know the residents of West Hollywood will have confidence that they have the best woman on the job.”
Buscaino noted that Horvath’s love of West Hollywood shows through continually. He also congratulated her on becoming president of the California Contract Cities Association. Horvath was sworn into that position on Saturday night in a teleconferencing meeting.
Meanwhile, Beverly Hills Mayor Lester Freidman and Councilmember Julian Gold both Zoomed in to offer their kudos and pledge for the two cities to work together.
Horvath first joined the West Hollywood City Council in 2009, appointed to fill the remaining two years of Councilmember Sal Guarriello’s term after he died in office. Horvath was then elected to the Council in 2015 and reelected in 2019.
The position of mayor rotates annually among the five councilmembers. Horvath first served as mayor in 2015-2016 when she was just 33, establishing a new record by becoming the youngest woman ever to be a mayor in America.
Following the swearing in of a new mayor, the city traditionally hosts a party with cake, food and entertainment. In this time of COVID-19, an in-person party was not possible, but Horvath arranged for DJ Asha to spin dance records on Zoom for 90 minutes after the meeting. Horvath explained the virtual dance party wasn’t mean to be so much of a celebration as it was meant to be “a release.”