Ruth Williams, the City’s longest serving Public Safety Commissioner, suffered a series of small strokes over the weekend and is in a coma at Cedar Sinai. Concerned neighbors alerted her family.
Ruth was an active member of the Coalition of Economic Survival before the campaign to incorporate the City of West Hollywood. Early discussions about forming the incorporation campaign took place in her apartment on Lexington. Ruth was one of the forty candidates in the original campaign for City Council in November, 1984, after efforts to gather signatures to put the issue of incorporation on the ballot.
Ruth’s initial activism pre-dated the creation of the City. As a single mother of three small boys, she doggedly demanded that the County and the Sheriff’s Department clean up Plummer Park, which had become a haven for sex workers and drug sales. She organized her neighbors into what became the first Eastside Neighborhood Watch. Donny Cacy, the owner of the 7-11 on Santa Monica and Curzon was one of her early backers as Ruth recruited local businesses in her efforts to clean up the Eastside. Ruth was one of the few local figures know to the Board of Supervisors, as Supervisor Ed Edelman was an ally.
After West Hollywood became a City, Ruth served on the Rent Stabilization Board.
By the early 1990s Ruth had become a major force in West Hollywood having organized much of the Eastside to fight crime and insure public safety. She also served on the Board of Stonewall Democratic Club and was an active member of the West Hollywood Democratic Club.
In 1992, when faced with the West Hollywood Police Initiative, Ruth founded “Safe Our Sheriff” to counter that ballot measure. “Safe Our Sheriff” eventually became ACES, an organization committed to public safety and Ruth recruited many of the young gay men who had worked on the WHDP campaign into the new organization.
Maintaining a high profile in West Hollywood, Ruth ran for City Council again in 1999, but was edged out by John Duran.
Ruth served on the Public Safety Commission until 2021 and was one of the longest serving Commissioners on any City Board or Commission.
Ruth remained engaged even after retiring from the Commission. “Ruth was horrified by the vote of the Public Safety Commission to ‘de-fund’ the Sheriff’s budget, saying that a cut of ten deputies would put West Hollywood residents at risk”, said longtime friend and ally, Steve Martin. “Ruth told me she was anxious to get back into the fight to ensure the cuts never happened”.