Election Day is a few days away and one of the most important races in Los Angeles County is for Supervisor which includes West Hollywood. Sheila Kuehl is our current representative in District 3. She was first elected to the County Board of Supervisors in 2014. West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath is running for Kuehl’s seat and has received her endorsement.
Kuehl was California’s first openly gay state legislator, had served in the Californis State Senate, and she was the first female speaker of the California State Assembly. Kuehl brought tremendous experience to the Supervisor dais.
I started off in the Lindsey camp. Proud to support a friend, and excited for her race. But things changed and now it was time to make a choice about who will make a difference to West Hollywood, and Los Angeles. In the 8 years that Sheila Kuehl has represented West Hollywood as our County Supervisor there have not been too many successes. The homeless problems get worse and worse and despite taxpayers throwing billions at the problem West Hollywood is often on its own. West Hollywood has to pay for its own mobile health units (MET team) but the County has billions of dollars. Horvath has asked us to choose between the Sheriff and funding homeless initiatives. That’s not a solution. What has Sheila done for small business? Housing? Homeless? What has Sheila done? We all paid higher taxes, passed measures to clean up LA County but our politicians have been ineffective. Sheila Kuehl has accomplished very little for West Hollywood and there is no reason to believe that her hand-picked successor will change course.
Kuehl has used her position to put friends in high paying jobs. One of those friends is Abbe Land. Kuehl named Land the executive director of Los Angeles County’s pioneering Women and Girls Initiative of Los Angeles County. Then Land finds a position for Chelsea Byers. Byers is Horvath’s former campaign manager Austin Cyr’s girlfriend. She was hand picked to run for West Hollywood City Council should Horvath’s seat open up. The hand-me-down incestuous politics continues if Lindsey Horvath is elected to follow in Kuehl’s footsteps.
Lindsey lost me when she voted against Lauren Meister for West Hollywood’s seat on the Regional Council of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). SCAG is the largest metropolitan planning organization in the United States, representing six counties, 191 cities and over 19 million residents. SCAG makes regional transportation decisions, determines housing quotas and makes climate change policy recommendations, among other things. Meister got 10 votes out of 20 in the first round. A majority is needed to win. Erickson ran against Meister and got 3 votes. West Hollywood actually had 13 of 20 votes but Horvath and Erickson deprived Meister of the win and West Hollywood the honor. On round two, Lindsey Horvath joined John Erickson to vote for Alex Fisch, the Mayor of Culver City. Meister went down. West Hollywood lost its opportunity to chair and guide decisions. Fisch returned the favor and endorsed Horvath for County Supervisor.
I’ve watched Lauren work hard for years to stick up for us, and our City. I could not imagine her ride home in the car that night after her two colleagues, Lindsey Horvath and John Erickson, voted against her and West Hollywood. That was the first time I felt that Lindsey did not deserve my vote. Lindsey then went from pro-business to pro-union, from pro-sheriff to defund the police. Lindsey went where she could get endorsements for herself.
Her claims to have cleaned up 80% of the homeless is not true at all. Her claims to have created all this affordable housing is not her policy. She has no executive experience running a city. We are a general law city and the City Manager runs the city. But let’s give her credit, she has run a great campaign. But a Lindsey win turns West Hollywood right into Los Angeles. Any policy being pushed in Los Angeles by Horvath will be promoted by her offspring here in West Hollywood.
I didnt know anybody else in the race except Craig Brill, we have friends in common. I was going to toss him my vote but then the ballot came in the mail and Mayor Meister had a get together at Micky’s.
Somebody pointed out Henry Stern on the sidewalk outside of Mickys. He was taking it slow. I walked over and said hello and showed him the way to come inside. He was a low-key guy. He came in and sort of lingered in the back of the bar with Jerome Cleary..and lingering. I went over to them- ‘hey Henry come on, lots of people to meet’. We walked to a table of residents and he fit in like family. Then Lauren asked if he wanted to say a few words. I was standing next to him — felt like he was my kid brother, and said ‘cmon buddy go win some votes’.. He took the mic and knocked it out of the park. He was relatable. He was personal. And he came to support Lauren and showed his loyalty. I really like Henry Stern.
As the event was coming to a close host Adam Emarian was handing out brownies at the door. While I said no thanks, Adam put a pile on a plate and says bring them to the boys at BlockParty. The pile was high. One fell to the ground. My hands were full so I kneeled down and flicked it off to the curb. Henry skipped to the street to pick up the brownie and disposed of it inside of Mickys. Henry was about as down to earth as they get. It would be easy to cast my vote for him. He is a great guy and I trust his authenticity. But there was somebody else who had impressed me more than any other candidate.
Let me tell you why I’m casting my vote for Bob Hertzberg. Because it is time to get shit done. It’s not a time for more cronyism in politics. It is a time for experience. And big ideas.
The first time I met Bob was at a luncheon. I was sitting backwards on the chair with my hands resting on the top of the back of the seat. Bob was speaking in front of me. As he spoke in animation, with passion, at one point cupped my hands to make his point. He came into my personal space and let me know that he was warm and approachable. Bob was the Senate Majority Leader in Sacramento yet he spoke like a businessman. I listened to his big ideas. Ideas he had implemented successfully and ideas that he failed and took responsibility. And other new ideas that he hoped to implement. The man spoke my language about looking ten years down the road now to secure water supplies, about the failure of the County Supervisors to spend the money to solve problems and the bottlenecks in the supply chain and the macro issues that have prevented progress.
In the real world there are Chiefs and there are Indians. One Queen bee can build a nest for thousands of bees but the bees cannot exist without the Queen. There is the theory of supply and demand and then there is the real life world of supply chain and international markets. Bob thinks globally. Bob understands how we can get things done. Bob was the Senate Majority Leader. Bob built the first solar plant in Los Angeles. Bob was named by the Guardian as one of 50 people who could save the planet. There were only 4 Americans on the list. I was impressed, shook his hands at the end asked if I could interview him for WEHOville. He gave me his card with his personal cell.
The next day I texted him and asked if we can do an interview. He called me back on the phone. I said that I’d send him a questionnaire to make it easy. He said ‘I’m tired of those questionnaires, how about I come to West Hollywood’, and we met that Sunday morning at the Gay Starbucks on Westmount. Bob lived in West Hollywood before Cityhood just of Santa Monica Blvd. at both Flores, and then on Olive below Sunset.
We sat outside and never stopped talking. He reminded me of my Uncle Norman, the dreamer, a romantic, but articulate enough to pen a novel, a liberal who believed government has a role and responsibility to care for its people, and how we can lift from the bottom up. But he also was my Uncle Marty, the shrewd businessman who understood the global flow of currency who is more of a top down kind of guy. Bob’s point of view is what is missing in the current decision making process on the County level. Currently there are five females on the County Supervisor dais. Maybe we need a couple of balls up there to move the ball forward.
But the moment the man won me over was with his heart. When he talked about his sons Daniel and David. He spoke about his gay son Daniel with such authenticity and pride. It was something I never had from my dad. He spoke of his composer son David with the pride of a man who had succeeded at something larger than himself. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Bob many times since that interview. He is open and easy and answers his texts in a hot flash second. I started to call him Uncle Bob.
We need to shake up Los Angeles at the County level. We need a leader. We need somebody who wants to do the work and not somebody who is going to be wondering where their next political opportunity will come from. With all our problems we need a fighter like Bob Hertzberg. He is not in it for himself. He is in it for us. And that’s why I’m excited to cast my vote for Bob Hertzberg.