It’s time to nominate the slate of candidates for this year’s West Hollywood City Council election. Candidates who wish to seek a seat on the council are required to get 20 verified West Hollywood resident signatures. The nomination period ends August 12th, but will be extended to August 17th if any incumbent does not declare their intention to run for re-election. This year John D’Amico has indicated that he will not seek re-election, and Lindsey Horvath is seeking a seat on the County Board of Supervisors representing the 3rd district. We can expect the City Clerk to extend the nomination period to last through August 17th at the end of Friday 8/12.
My own run for a City Council seat began with a sister who had cancer in 2015 and a term limits campaign that began with my knock on a neighbor’s door.
I asked her how chemo feels. She said, “Let’s talk about you.”
My reply was, “We got the signatures for the term limits,” and she said, “You should run for city council-” I said, “Stick around and I will.”
Despite being a full-grown adult I was shy and scared to speak at the public comment podium. My first trip to speak at a city council meeting was to ask to to have the gum cleaned off the sidewalks.
Term limits was an idea that I had shepherded, and felt I had to speak up. After Steve Martin wrote the language, Lauren Meister was asked to run the campaign. We were the change agents standing up to City Hall. Almost 10 years later, not much has changed.
Lauren Meister is the current mayor, and is still the resident-oriented city councilmember we dreamed of when we began the term limits initiative. The idea was to get rid of entrenched interests and that a rotation in leadership is healthy. Be careful what you wish for 🙂
Twice defeated, John Heilman is again running for City Council after already having served 36 years.
Former Councilmember John Duran is again running for City Council after having served 19 years.
Former Councilmember Steve Martin, who served 8 years and was defeated three times after that is also in the race.
These councilmembers bring experience to the dais but represent an “Old Guard.” Yet, these men are still compelled to run.
There are lots of challengers for the three seats on the City Council. One candidate with strong backing is Chelsea Byers. Chelsea lives with Austin Cyr, Lindsey Horvath’s former campaign manager and is the direct appointee to the Human Services Commissioner by John Erickson. I’m pretty sure she works with Abbe Land as part of a women’s and girls initiative in Sheila Kuehl’s office. All are behind Chelsea along with UNITE HERE Local 11. Yet it appears Byers had never voted in a West Hollywood election prior to this year.
Robert Oliver is a Public Safety Commissioner who voted to de-fund the Sheriff but then changed his mind when the political tide went the other way. Oliver expressed support for a new West Hollywood Police Department after shooting down the Sheriff. Robert has the support of John Erickson along with ‘Old Guard’ lobbyists and developers, and the support UNITE HERE Local 11. Oliver led the fundraising at the end of the June 30th period.
I spent over two hours with both of the above candidates at my house discussing the city and their ideas — hoping to be united to share those thoughts in these pages … and was happy to send each a Commissioner Profile to present to you, the readers- the voters. Byers never followed through even though she followed up to say she was going to. Oliver didn’t like my questions and emailed Brandon the next day to get a new set of questions. It’s hard for me to understand candidates who refuse to engage the public in the community town square. These two take their marching orders from Councilmembers Erickson and Horvath and UNITE HERE Local 11.
But these pages are open. C’mon Chelsea, C’mon Robert, tell your story!
Marquita Thomas, who serves on the Planning Commission, is also running. Thomas began her service as a city official as the direct appointee of Council member Lindsey Horvath to LGAB, the Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. Horvath booted the late Ivy Bottini from her seat to give Marquita the nod. Thomas ran in 2019 and was first to declare her candidacy in this 2022 election. She is endorsed by Council member John D’Amico.
Also in the race is Zekiah Wright, who serves on the LGBTQIA+ Commission and is an attorney. Wright is supported by Council member Sepi Shyne, and I’d expect Zekiah to also get the UNITE HERE Local 11 endorsement. Zekiah is a first ‘non-binary’ candidate in West Hollywood history.
This group of candidates represent the “New Guard” — up-and-coming commissioners born in the Horvath, Erickson, and Shyne camps.
All the candidates above are compelled to run for a reason. Tell us those reasons. These pages are open to you!
A new candidate — Boy Meets World star Bennett Savage — has also emerged on the scene. Savage has lived in West Hollywood for 17 years and is engaged to a woman named Tess. Bennett wears his heart on his sleeve. But he has not yet engaged on the most important issues of the day. It’s hard to run for office if you do not participate in the contentious debates on everything from development to the rainbow flag. But the idea behind term limits is that the voices of the people like Bennett would rise to have a say in their community. So here we are.
There are other first time candidates who have pulled papers but none has ever participated in the business of the City. There have been weekly meetings for 3 years led by Genevieve Morrill of the West Hollywood Chamber and the city was in crisis mode. I’m not aware that any of these first time candidates attended a single meeting. Yet, they are compelled to run for a seat on the City Council to lead us forward.
There is not anybody in the new guard or the old guard that has outlined any plans to save our small business community. The old guard as least understands the history and offer experience to help rebuild this city. Business is tough. Traffic is off. Public Safety is a nightmare. It’s a struggle. We have lost and are losing our heart and soul and I do not see a candidate that understands the environment, the challenges, and the obstacles as clearly as myself. So I too am compelled to run.
I’ve survived many years learning and picking up the pieces of what was WeHo. It takes a certain kind of dedication to community. From that first time shaking to speak about the gum on the sidewalks to the rainbow flag on city hall, term limits, crosswalks, homeless and crime, – All the issues on the street that I feel everyday has manifested into an angry passion that is often misunderstood.
When neighboring businesses closed, -Andrew Christian- we partnered to keep their brand in West Hollywood. LA Jock/ ES and Addicted closed we kept them in WeHo. BlockParty became the ‘catch all’ of the vestiges of retail in the Rainbow District. Our community village is now a jungle of bars. And when WEHOville was based out of Las Vegas brought them home too. Heck, any coffee mavens out there want to open the WEHOville Community Coffee shop at the old Gay Starbucks?
It was never in my mind to run WEHOville. I’m blind, people miss this point. But I have a different kind of vision. I got left at the alter with this publication but somehow survived, but it’s not what I want for myself. The founder Henry Scott has continued to interfere in the business. John Erickson has approached advertisers to stop working with us. I’d be glad to move forward and leave this baby on a doorstep for somebody else. And yes, I know there’s a legal option and there have been meetings with the City Attorney, City Manager and powers that be, but so far taking it on the chin.
We need a shake-up at City Hall. The City Manager is afraid of the City Council so he does not lead. Time and time, again from the hotel ordinance to minimum wage to the Sheriff defunding, the City Council has not respected the City Manager’s advice. David Wilson overseas a biased media policy that rewards the friends of Council members and insiders. Many of the problems at City Hall should be challenged —, from a slow permitting process to over bloated salaries. Who do you trust to stand up to City Hall and for the community?
Two years ago I ran on a platform, .. Crime is rising, too many homeless on our streets. The young can’t afford to move in and the old have no place to go, ..mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. But I’m a shitty politician.
The 2020 was sidetracked by COVID. It hit the store hard. Employees were scarce and getting masks for residents was more important than an election. I held on to the shop trying not to fall too far behind in the rent. I never bought a voter list, had no staff, no donations from developers or unions, and still bested a very well funded incumbent. Campaigning is fun. Each campaign is filled with personal growth. And all the candidates deserve credit for putting themselves out there.
Duran, like Martin and others, waited to see if Horvath would be on the ballot. When the seat opened up they jumped in. But as it stands I am having a hard time finding that winning ticket. I am coming up empty as to the three candidates who do not seek higher office, only want to serve West Hollywood and can be independent and community-oriented, who are not driven by their donors.
I’m late to the game, – many personal reasons. My brother Ronnie passed in January. My mom had three strokes. My focus was not on a campaign but taking care of those I needed to, and trying to bring everyone into this medium. Lately, it seems my independence is lost in the news of the day or thoughts of others in the comment section. I’m ready to break stride.
It’s time to rebuild West Hollywood and I’m good at building things.
I’ve been fighting for West Hollywood for a long time. But there is no City for me if we do not a) Refund our Sheriff, – b) allow homeless to lay on our streets, – and c) understand what it talks to build a small business and attract community serving businesses. Instead of cutting the Sheriff budget somebody could have asked, how can we make an additional 3 million dollars? I would have said that. We can raise our revenue and keep those Sheriffs. It was a false choice by a city council that did not put its residents first or understand the effects of their decisions on perceptions and our local businesses.
Some people may not like my style, But I’ll cut to the chase and get things done. And I’m a team player. Perhaps some candidates have a head start in fundraising, or endorsements but no money can buy the lessons learned right here on these pages.
The nomination will be extended at the end of the day today to 8/17. There are five more days for you or I to file the forms necessary and become a city candidate in 2022.
What’s your ticket?