Insiders and close associates of the former City Council Member confirm that John Heilman, first elected to the West Hollywood City Council in 1984, is considering a run in 2022. Both Heilman, D’Amico, and former Council member John Duran each are eligible to serve one additional term under Term Limits passed in 2013. Council member John D’Amico has announced he will not seek re-election.
Heilman served continuously from 1984-2015 laying the building blocks for many of West Hollywood’s core values. Heilman pioneered West Hollywood’s inclusionary housing programs, affordable housing initiatives, and was often seen as a reliable vote for major developments.
In the 2015 City Council race John D’Amico finished first. Lindsey Horvath bested her mentor John Heilman and Lauren Meister was first elected to the city council. Heilman came in 4th and was defeated. He vowed to not run again.
In 2014 then Council member Jeffrey Prang launched a bid to become the Los Angeles County Assessor. Prang’s victory would set up a special election in June of 2015 for the open seat. Heilman stated that ‘if defeated’ he would not run for the open Prang seat but then changed his mind.
West Hollywood’s first ‘open seat’ would be filled with the first ‘somebody new’ in a long time. In that race, two candidates, Heidi Shink and Cole Ettman chose to focus their resources on the June race and not run in the March 2015 race. Then the big money came in to finance Heilman’s return to the City Council with almost half a million dollars bouncing off the March race to June. The ‘open seat’, the ‘community seat’, went back to Heilman.
Heilman served the remainder of Prang’s term and was re-elected in 2016 to another term. In the 2020 election Heilman was again defeated by two of his own appointees, Sepi Shyne and John Erickson. In all, three of Heilman’s appointees have defeated him. Horvath, Shyne and Erickson.
The 2022 race will once again have at least one ‘open seat’ with the retirement of Council member John D’Amico. Will John Heilman challenge the other only open seat in the last two decades?
Former Council member John Duran has ruled out a run in 2022. But Duran has been active behind the scenes during the major debates over the hotel ordinance and minimum wage. If Heilman is distressed at the direction of West Hollywood, he should take some of the blame, too. It’s his clique running the show. Yet he has been publicly silent on these major issues.
It is interesting to note that when Term Limits, Measure C was passed in 2013 with over 60% of the vote, its author Steve Martin was defeated in the same race for City Council. The voters passed term limits but re-elected John Heilman and John Duran in that same year. Perhaps we need to go full circle . If Heilman needs to run again to save the city, then perhaps he should spearhead Term Limits repeal on the ballot too. Let the voters decide.
I was a founding father of the term limits initiative and the vision was to create a grass-roots community where residents and resident-centric policies had a chance to lead the city. Rotation in government is supposed to be healthy. We don’t have to agree on issues, or we can firmly disagree, but the hope of term limits, – was that residents who cared about local issues could be heard. We used to think in terms of the developer interests and resident interests. But after the defeat of John Duran and John Heilman it is easier to see the influence of UNITE Here Local 11 on city policies. We used to worry about building one floor too high that had a small affect on the entire city. But todays deficits and council initiatives will increase the costs and cost of living for every single resident and tourist.
Heilman clinging to power reminds me of Vladamir Putin or Donald Trump clinging to his influence over the party. A Heilman race will stifle new voices from rising and West Hollywood from evolving. While I love John Heilman and respect him with all my heart, something stinks about this type of establishment power grab. It’s time to let West Hollywood evolve. Heilman’s voice is more important than his vote on the City Council. Perhaps he should come speak up on issues in real time.
While I appreciate Mr. Heilman’s service, and even support the naming of the West Hollywood Library in his honor, it looks a large Putin-like bronze statue in the middle of West Hollywood Park may be in our future. It’s nice to be nostalgic for John’s legacy, but it’s also time to Move West Hollywood Forward. One little clique of insiders is not how a progressive city grows to its fullest potential.