The 2022 West Hollywood City Council Election is eight months away and the field of candidates is beginning to take shape.
Councilmember John D’Amico has announced he will not be seeking re-election. Councilmember Lindsey Horvath is running for Los Angeles County Supervisor to replace Sheila Kuehl in District (3). If Horvath is able to secure one of the top two spots in the June runoff election she would be ineligible to also run on the November ballot for West Hollywood City Council. West Hollywood voters are facing the possibility of two open seats with Mayor Lauren Meister, the only incumbent who has declared her intention to run and serve the people of West Hollywood.
Those who have declared their intention to run the upcoming WeHo City Council race include:
MAYOR LAUREN MEISTER
Mayor Lauren Meister was first elected to the City Council in 2015. She was re-elected in 2018, and if she is successful in her 2022 race, Meister will become the first Council member to ‘term out’. It’s an interesting twist of fate as Meister led the term limits initiative Measure C that was passed by the voters in 2013. Meister has proven herself to be a true champion for the City of West Hollywood residents and businesses.
COMMISSIONER MARQUITA THOMAS
Marquita Thomas also previously ran for West Hollywood City Council in 2018. She garnered just over 1,000 votes in her first run and came in fifth. Thomas currently serves on the Planning Commission and formerly served on the Human Services Commission and the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board.
COMMISSIONER ROBERT OLIVER
Robert Oliver is new to West Hollywood politics. Oliver’s claim to fame was his dramatic departure from the Public Safety Commission in 2019. Oliver resigned in ”protest’ over the Commission’s refusal to censure then-Councilmember John Duran for allegations of impropriety. The item to censure was not on the Public Safety agenda and could not be voted on despite the drama. Oliver left that Public Safety meeting with former Horvath campaign manager Estevan Montemayor. Montemayor is a registered lobbyist with the City of West Hollywood and ran Horvath’s first campaign for West Hollywood City Council in 2015. Shortly after Oliver resigned from the Public Safety Commission he left the City of West Hollywood for approximately one year and recently returned. He was quickly re-appointed to the Public Safety Commission as an at-large appointee with the support of Horvath, Erickson and Shyne.
COMMISSIONER CHELSEA BYERS
Chelsea Byers is the other formerly declared candidate for this year’s City Council election. Byers is the girlfriend of Horvath’s 2018 campaign manager,Austin Cyr. She is also Councilmember Erickson’s direct appointee to the Human Services Commission. Byers recently moved to West Hollywood in order to file her paperwork and run for council. She made her first appearance at a city council meeting in early February during the public comment period. Byers will have the benefit of Horvath’s and Erickson’s endorsement. Insider buzz says that Byers will also have the benefit of the UNITE HERE Local 11, being pushed by Horvath.
There are other candidates weighing their options ‘to run or not to run’, including former City Council member Steve Martin, former City Council member John Heilman and myself, too.
FORMER COUNCILMEMBER STEVE MARTIN
Martin was first elected in 1994 and served until 2003 when he was defeated by former Councilmember Abbe Land. Martin attempted a comeback in 2007, 2011, and 2017 and was defeated in each of those races. Martin has continued to be engaged IN local politics and is a regular commenter at City Council and Planning Commission meetings. While Martin is hoping for the endorsement from UNITE HERE Local 11, it is not certain he will receive their support.
FORMER COUNCILMEMBER JOHN HEILMAN
Also pondering a run in 2022 is former longtime City Councilmember John Heilman. Heilman served over 36 consecutive years from the founding of West Hollywood in 1984 through 2020. Heilman was defeated in 2015 by Horvath, Meister and D’Amico in the March election. In the same year Councilmember Jeffrey Prang was successful in his run for Los Angeles County Assessor and left an open seat. Heilman mobilized quickly to run for Prang’s open seat in the June election and returned to the City Council. But when he returned to City Hall his office was now the property of Councilmember John D’Amico.
Heilman is considering a return to the dais. Despite his 36 years of service, he has one possible term left since the term limit initiative passed in 2013. Heilman is said to be dismayed over many decisions pushed forward by the current city council. Despite his behind-the-scenes jockeying on issues with Horvath or Erickson over minimum wage increases, he did not sway heads. And he was not an effective spokesperson for his positions and has disappointed many in the business community.
My expectations are for Heilman to enter the race if Horvath makes the runoff in June. He has name recognition and received over 5,000 votes in the 2020 election. Heilman could possibly be running with the endorsement of Horvath, Erickson and Shyne, three of his appointees to office.
LOCAL BUSINESS OWNER LARRY BLOCK
I’ve also written here in WEHOville about my own interest in running for City Council. I ran in both 2015 and 2020 and was defeated in both races. Both campaigns lacked any staff or fundraising to compete but were great learning experiences. In 2015 I ran against Heilman, Meister, Horvath and D’Amico, and in 2020 against Heilman, Duran and two well funded UNITE HERE Local 11 candidates Shyne and Erickson Times have changed and I’ve learned a lot. Our City Council needs balance, a business perspective, a laser beam focus on our public safety needs and how to fund them, not defund them , And to protect the quality of our residential life that is going downhill quickly. Some don’t like my style but I’m just a straight shooting New Yorker. I don’t seek higher office — West Hollywood is my life.
But for me personally times have been difficult, numerous losses have rocked my world over the past six months. My brother passed in January and my mom had a stroke. This is not the right time to kick off a campaign. But while I’m not in campaign mode I am in WeHo and WEHOville mode everyday and understand the issues. I expect to file my candidate intention statement in the next week and be prepared to be part of the debate about the direction and future of West Hollywood.
Running for City Council is a wonderful experience. In my first campaign in 2015 Lauren Meister gave me some good advice — she told me that it is the people you meet along the way. For me running for City Council helped me grow up, face the issues and stand up tall despite my visual disability. So if you are thinking of running for City Council I urge you to get involved. West Hollywood needs local residents who want to serve the community at large, representing our city and our needs. And to all candidates and all who hope to be candidates these pages are open for you to engage the public on the issues of the day. My promise is a WEHOville that is ours, to promote community engagement. So get involved, run for office, and tell your story right here.