A political action committee formed by the hotel and restaurant workers union is promoting the election of John Erickson and Sepi Shyne to the West Hollywood City Council and campaigning against the re-election of incumbent John Duran.
Documents filed with West Hollywood’s City Clerk shows that the Unite Here Local 11 PAC is spending an estimated $3,300 on a telephone campaign to urge voters not to support Duran, who has been on the City Council since 2001 and is running for a sixth term.
The union PAC reports spending $1,650 to support the election of John Erickson and $1,650 to promote the election of Sepi Shyne. Erickson, 34, is the youngest candidate in the race. He works for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, is vice chair of West Hollywood’s Planning Commission and has been active in many Democratic party groups. Shyne is a lawyer. She is a former member of the city’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and currently serves on its Business License Commission.
Erickson and Shyne are two of seven challengers in the Nov. 3 election for two City Council seats held by incumbents Duran and John Heilman, both of who are running for re-election.
Unite Here Local 11 has become increasingly involved in West Hollywood, which currently is home to 20 hotels, with the 21st (the Pendry on Sunset Boulevard at Olive) opening soon. Several others have been going through the planning and approval process, which has slowed considerably because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unite Here Local 11 launched an unsuccessful effort in 2018 to block construction of the Robertson Lane hotel and shopping plaza project. It also failed in its effort to get voters in the March 2019 election to revoke the City Council’s approval of the Arts Club on Sunset Boulevard.
What the Unite Here PAC has spent thus far is very small compared to what it put into the March 2019 West Hollywood City Council election. It spent $16,644 to support Shyne in her then-unsuccessful campaign, and $13,218 to support Mayor Lindsey Horvath and $6,569 to support City Councilmember Lauren Meister, both of whom were re-elected. The PAC’s biggest expenditure was $34,905 to fight the re-election of Councilmember John D’Amico, who won, coming in less than 200 votes ahead of Shyne.
As WEHOville reported earlier another group has been formed to support the re-election of John Duran and John Heilman. That group, “WeHo First Supporting Heilman and Duran for Council 2020,” is an independent expenditure committee that as of Sept. 19 had raised a total of $47,500 from real estate interests and billboard company owners that need approval from the city’s appointed and/or elected officials for their projects. Mani Brothers, the real estate development firm whose owners and their family members are major donors to Donald Trump, has donated $15,000 to that committee.
The next political action committee that is expected to make an endorsement is the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce PAC, It’s members include Ted Green, a lobbyist for real estate developers; Keith Kaplan of the Kaplan Group, a real estate agent; Sherri Franklin, CEO of Urban Design Center, which helps developers and other business interests get projects approved by local governments; D.J. Moore of Latham & Watkins, an international law firm that is known for its lobbying efforts on behalf of major real estate developers and contributions to election campaigns, and Nick Rimedio, general manager of the La Peer Hotel and chair of the Chamber’s board of directors.
The Chamber will be putting on its usual city council candidate forum — on a virtual platform — on Oct. 6 and has said that its PAC will meet shortly after that to choose which candidates to endorse. The costs of the forum are covered by the City of West Hollywood, which some see as an unusual use of city money given that the PAC will spend money to promote the election of candidates that it sees as supporting the interests of its members.
“WEHO PAC advances the business interests of the Chambers’ members by, among other things, advocating on their behalf and cultivating relationships with elected officials who support business interests,” says a description of the PAC on the Chamber’s website. The city also supports the Chamber in other ways, allocating money to it to provide various services.
It is not yet clear which candidates the Chamber PAC will endorse. However, D.J. Moore has already donated $2,500 to WeHo First, the independent expenditure committee formed to promote the re-election of Duran and Heilman. He also has made individual donations of $500 to Duran’s campaign and d$1,000 to Heilman’s campaign. Rimedio has donated $100 to Duran’s campaign and $100 to Erickson’s campaign.
The Chamber’s Oct. 6 forum will take place from 5 to 7 p.m.in a virtual teleconference format. Residents can view it live, on-demand, or via replay on WeHoTV by visiting the city’s website atas well as on Spectrum Cable TV Channel 10 within the boundaries of the City of West Hollywood. It also will be available on the city’sYouTube channel(for live stream and replay) and on streaming services such as AndroidTV, AppleTV, FireTV, and Roku. Streaming platform viewers can ind programming by searching for “WeHoTV” within the search functions of these services.
Residents will be able to access the forum virtually by registering on Zoom .
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include revised amounts in the filing of the contributions that Unite Here Local 11 is making to the campaigns of John Erickson and Sepi Shyne and to oppose the re-election of John Duran.