John Erickson last night kicked off his campaign for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council with a virtual gathering that suggests he will have the support of a majority of current Council members.
Those attending the online event included City Councilmember John Heilman, who appointed Erickson to the city’s Planning Commission and is running for re-election to the Council, Mayor Lindsey Horvath, and Councilmember John D’Amico. Notably not participating were Councilmember Lauren Meister and Councilmember John Duran, who is running for re-election.
Erickson’s virtual event also was attended by a number of lobbyists such as Ted Green, who represents the owner of the AKA West Hollywood building in its battle with the City Council; Gina Gribow, who heads government relations for Strategies 360 PR’s Southern California office and has her own clients, including Lyft; Trevor Daley, former state director for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and now head of the Cerrell Associates PR and lobbying firm, and Austin Cyr, president of Ground Up Communications public relations and lobbying firm and a manager of Horvath’s 2015 election campaign.
Erickson is director of public affairs at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. He also is president of the Hollywood chapter of the National Organization for Women, a member of the board of ACLU Southern California, a member of the legislation committee of the California Democratic Party, legislative action chair for the Stonewall Democrats and once worked as a deputy to former WeHo City Councilmember Abbe Land.
Those who follow West Hollywood politics believe that if Erickson is elected Heilman and Horvath will have a three-vote majority on many major issues.
Like Horvath, Erickson has been focused mostly in recent years on national political and cultural issues such as abortion rights, LGBT rights and opposition to Donald Trump (a major example was his participation in the August 2019 reading of the Mueller Report.) However, his campaign website does say that he is an advocate for renters rights, safer neighborhoods, helping the homeless, and reducing the impact of vehicle traffic.
While Erickson’s support from Heilman and Horvath is no surprise, D’Amico’s participation in Erickson’s campaign kickoff event was to some. However, it reflects the shifts D’Amico has made over the years since his election to the Council in 2011 in a campaign whose focus was slowing real estate development (““bigger, faster, louder West Hollywood has to stop”), animal rights, and ousting what he called “the entrenched elites,” a reference to Heilman and other long-serving Council members like John Duran and Abbe Land. But in 2017, D’Amico endorsed Heilman and Duran. The initial fundraising event for his 2019 re-election campaign was hosted by lobbyists who represent major developers in West Hollywood. And that campaign was for a third term in office, which D’Amico previously had said he wouldn’t seek, criticizing long-serving Council members as “the establishment.” So far, D’Amico has not announced whether he will endorse the Duran or Heilman Nov. 3 election campaigns. Councilmember Meister hasn’t endorsed anyone, however she has made a small donation to the campaign of Sepi Shyne. Shyne is an attorney and member of the city’s Business License Commission who is a prominent challenger and came within 141 votes of defeating d’Amico in the 2019 election.
Duran hasn’t hosted a campaign kickoff, but he has raised more than $100,000 in donations from real estate interests and billboard companies.
Other candidates in the race are Noemi Torres, a real estate agent and a member of the city’s Public Facilities Commission who also is on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union Los Angeles chapter; Larry Block, owner of the Block Party store and chair of the city’s Public Facilities Commission, and Jack Cline, a nurse and drag performer who also goes by the name “Jackie Oh My Goodness.” Marquita Thomas, who heads the Los Angeles Lesbian and Gay Chamber of Commerce, has filed a statement of interest indicating she may run but hasn’t formally announced.
To become a candidate for the 2020 election, you must receive 20 valid signatures (of registered West Hollywood voters) on a nomination form that will then be verified by the L.A. County Registrar Recorder. The nomination period begins July 13 and ends on Aug. 7. Those interesting in running can contact the City Clerk’s Office at (323) 848-6409 in mid-June 2020 to schedule an appointment to receive specific election information and official nomination papers.