Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne commented on the resignation of Lynn Hoopingarner, chairperson of the Planning Commission, after comments she made about Persians during a Design Review Subcommittee meeting last week. Shyne is an Iranian-born immigrant who fled the country’s violent revolution as a child in the late 1970s. Persians are an Iranian ethnic group who make up more than half of Iran’s population.
I have taken a lot of time these past few days to process what has transpired and I’ve heard from community members and read emails about this from folks who were seeking her resignation and also from folks who defended her service to the city and some who defended her comment.
I met with my own appointed officials. I have from the beginning communicated a zero tolerance policy with all of them when it comes to any form of racism misogyny homophobia transphobia misandry xenophobia ageism, any comments against people with disabilities and anti-semitism.
As an Iranian resident and first ever Iranian elected official in this city, hearing Chair Hoopingarner’s comments was very disappointing for me. It was important to receive a public apology and I want to thank Chair Hoopingarner for her written apology.
I have not yet received a phone call from Chair Hoopingarner and I want her to know that she can always call me to have a conversation. I very much welcome that.
We need to always view people’s decisions and choices by looking at their intent and at the same time as elected and appointed officials we also need to be very conscious of the words we use coupled with our intent. Part of the responsibility of serving is upholding the values of this incredible city.
I have always respected Chair Hoopingarner’s service on the planning commission and when I appointed my former commissioner Katrina Vinson, Chair Hoopingarner really took her under her wing and mentored her and for that she’ll always have my gratitude. I personally don’t believe in cancer culture.
I do not believe that that ever brings needed healing or the conversations necessary for folks to truly understand each other or their own actions and the effect that it has on others. I do believe in accountability and I believe in forgiveness and compassion when folks make mistakes and own up to it especially when those mistakes come from a place of not having proper training or from a place of simple ignorance.
My view on racism and stereotypes is that we live in a racist society with systems that need to be dismantled to create equity.… I believe Chair Hoopingarner’s apology and that the harm that was caused to the Iranian community was unintentional. I do believe she deserves that compassion since she took the step to apologize and even the further step of resigning. However as elected and appointed officials we really do need to be super conscious and make sure our intent aligns with the values of West Hollywood.
I also believe that her words could have potentially disqualified her from future decisions and I do believe and can relate to the harm that was caused to our Iranian community. West Hollywood values diversity inclusion and is one of the most progressive cities in California and the entire United States.
What is evident here is that despite having elected your first Iranian-American elected official by a landslide, our community and that includes each one of us and our city staff, we all have a lot of work to do.