OPINION | If we don’t know where candidates live, we don’t know where they stand

With campaign season in full swing, questions about WeHo City Council candidates’ residency have been thrust to the forefront of the rumor mill.

Debates about where a candidate resides (and how long they’ve resided there) commonly arise over the course of the modern day political campaign, but the answers the candidates offer can be vague and misleading, sometimes by design.

In the case of West Hollywood, the only thing you need in order to run for City Council is to be a resident and a registered WeHo voter. There is no time minimum. The candidates’ applications were all reviewed and approved by the City Clerk, so all 12 are legitimate contenders.

But for voters gauging their trustworthiness, the way candidates field such questions is crucial. Are they being as up-front as they should be?

When candidates are less than truthful about where they call home, it suggests they might be less than truthful about other matters, too.

In August, each of the 12 was asked at the WeHo for the People Candidate Forum how long they have resided in WeHo. Some, like John Heilman, have been residents for decades. Some, like Zekiah Wright, are very recent transplants (it’s not a topic they’ve wanted to discuss). Chelsea Byers has never voted in a WeHo election, even though she says she has lived here two years. Marquita Thomas had to re-verify she lived in WeHo after a clerical error in her voter registration was discovered.

But for some candidates the answer isn’t so clear cut. When Robert Oliver applied to the Gay & Lesbian Advisory Board* in 2015, he listed an address in Los Angeles as his home— a three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom, 1,739 square foot property behind the Chateau Marmont just beyond WeHo city limits.

So when Oliver stated at the forum that he has been living in West Hollywood for 10 years, was that fudging the facts? Or was it just an overly simplistic answer to a complicated question?

Ben Savage’s residency was also questioned publicly. For years, his voter registration was an attached to an address in Beverly Hills — and yet he stated on the record that he has been a WeHo resident for 18 straight years.

What gives?

Savage told WEHOville the Beverly Hills address is just a mailbox, part of an effort to hide his home address people had suggested after he became the victim of a stalker.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile for the city to be more specific when it says “you must be a resident to run for office.” Maybe you should have to have lived here at least six months or a year.

But regardless of the rules, candidates mustn’t view questions about their residency as underhanded attacks or take them personally. In fact it’s a chance for them to prove they’ll tell us the unvarnished truth when we ask for it — an essential quality for anyone who wants to be called Councilmember.

*Corrected from “Public Safety Commission” 10/21/2022

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About Brandon Garcia
Brandon Garcia is editor of WEHOville. He oversees the website's editorial direction and creates original content such as news reports, photo and video features, digital art work and advertisements. A native of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, he now lives in WeHo and is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. @brandoninthebubble on Instagram

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Eastside Straight Girl
Eastside Straight Girl
1 month ago

Living here for at least 5 years should be a requirement to prevent the fringe agitators from taking over like the daughter of the LA Times former Horvath PS Commissioner that started this whole “Defund the Sheriff Dept!” This election, we cannot afford to have this element of crazy take over our City Council! We are already in a heap of trouble with the SHE that wants to hold power even with Horvath leaving! History & EXPERIENCE matters friends! I want to go back to a business friendly, very safe city…..is that really asking for much? I am voting for… Read more »

Ham
Ham
1 month ago

Who cares where anyone lives????? They are hired to do a job.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago

Zekiah Wright should not be considered for city council. Anyone that just moves into a city and then runs for city council is a mouthpiece for the union Unite Here. We don’t need that.

So Confused 🙄
So Confused 🙄
1 month ago
Reply to  JF1

Useless. Wright might have been more productive taking her experience gained in DC and returning to her home town to improve their situation which may have resulted in “hometown they/them/theirs makes good”.😊👏👏👏

James (Jamie) Francis
James (Jamie) Francis
1 month ago

Great statements from previous commenters! I absolutely think that honesty and transparency and residential requirements should be upheld and scrutinized since us voters must verify that we live in this city to actually vote for candidates and public officials and we must prove we live in the city limits not one residence over the city line! People should not and must not lie about living in Weho when you in all actuality lived outside of the city of West Hollywood and moved back to Weho just to run for office! Transparency is crucial and not lying about how long they… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by James (Jamie) Francis
campaign Questions
campaign Questions
1 month ago

Also interesting to view the campaign contributions of candidates. On one candidate’s record there were 90 out of West Hollywood contributors, 8 in Weho in addition to multiple contributions from a WH developer and so far one land use attorney. What is that all about?🙄

Jamie FTW
Jamie FTW
1 month ago

Yes! Can’t believe Jordan Cockerman said that he has lived in West Hollywood for 10 years when he moved here from Playa Del Rey in 2016. Like why lie? Just say 6 years, not 10. Come on.

Michael
Michael
1 month ago

My experience is that most people today, don’t care where somebody lives. They want somebody who thinks like them and where they live is irrelevant. That of course is problematic in local elections. But ever since the District Attorney abolished the public integrity unit, nobody even prosecutes those cases anymore.

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael

I certainly care. We need someone that knows the city and its problems. I don’t want outsiders funded by a union to have a voice in controlling our city and the direction it takes.

Jordan Cockeram
1 month ago

For anyone who is curious, and without giving my exact address (not that you couldn’t find it) I live on Norton Ave near the intersection of Crescent Heights Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd. I’ve lived in West Hollywood for almost a decade, but I’ve been in this apartment for 3.5 years.

You can always reach me with any questions at (323) 250-0992 or JC@JordanForWeHo.com!

Nuts & Bolts
Nuts & Bolts
1 month ago

Did you go door knocking at the home of Michel that just wrote an opinion piece? If so please endeavor to get a cross walk painted at CH & Norton. If you are successful, she may vote for you.😊

Ham
Ham
1 month ago

No one is curious.

Jordan Cockeram
1 month ago
Reply to  Ham

Over 75% of the people I talk to at events, forums, meet and greets, all ask what part of West Hollywood I live in. So yea, people are curious. 💁🏻‍♂️

JF1
JF1
1 month ago

Yes, they are. Thank you.

Ham
Ham
1 month ago

maybe in your circles

Norton Facts
Norton Facts
1 month ago

Fact check: Jordan Cockeram moved from Playa del Rey to West Hollywood in 2016.

MG on Havenhurst
MG on Havenhurst
1 month ago

Savage lives in West Hollywood. Any celebrities have business managers and lawyers using addresses in other cities.

As for Oliver, if he does live behind the Chateau Marmont then he should disqualify himself. He lives in LA. He is subject to their buisness tax.

West Hollywood is so poorly run, they don’t do thorough background checks. Recall all the criminals who have served on commissions.

Tom
Tom
1 month ago

When I moved to SoCal I took an apartment on a street in Beverly Hills. My address was in Beverly Hills. My lawn and mailbox were in Beverly Hills. My actual apartment was not, which I found out when I got my voter info and it was for Los Angeles City. Same thing happens North of Sunset- you get a WeHo zip code, but you’re in Los Angeles. Whether or not you “feel” like you live someplace unless you do, you don’t. There’s no shame in that, but there is in lying (or obfuscating.)

Scott Sigman
Scott Sigman
1 month ago

I voted for the candidates that came by my home to hear me one on one. Or took a dog walk with me. Oh I live 4 houses from LA but I live north of Willoughby. Oh I rent here but own property up the coast. Now rented
Oh and sone used data from a business database? Like google and Facebook and Banks and stores and everything on the web. BFD.
Do you care about rents, older gay couples, and safety. My favorite buildings gone so that means. Zero to us

gdaddy
gdaddy
1 month ago

From my perspective, Oliver living like 20 feet outside of West Hollywood is really semantics. The city was frankly still home. For similar reasons I think residents of West Hollywood should be able to vote for LA mayor. We are impacted by the policies and decisions of Los Angeles. I do think someone should have lived within the actual city for at least 2 years before being eligible though.

Scott Sigman
Scott Sigman
1 month ago
Reply to  gdaddy

Right I have live in county lands or in other cities and haven’t voted for a mayor since Tom BRADLEY. BUT watching the political ads just a bother. Besides voted all ready. I live four houses away from LA and boy what a difference

Don Jones
Don Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  gdaddy

Your theory is ludicrous. Should U.S. residents be able to vote for the prime minister of Canada? or the President of Mexico? We are impacted by the policies and decisions of those countries. Or as California residents, should we vote for the Governors of Nevada, Arizona, Oregon? If Oliver lived in Los Angeles in 2015, then he lied. Plain and simple. If he lied about something as simple as where he lived, that speaks to character and what else he’s willing to lie about and bend the truth to what he thinks others want to hear. Oliver has not earned… Read more »

JF1
JF1
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Jones

Yup.

Hmmm...
Hmmm...
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Jones

“IF Oliver lived..”

So you don’t know for a fact, you admit there is speculation…. but then you go on to insinuate he has not earned your vote because of this?

Sounds kinda biased and uninformed to me.

Larry Block
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Hmmm...

no misinformation, the address is from the city records.

Hmmm...
Hmmm...
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry Block

No one said “misinformation,” but you either didn’t do enough research or are purposely excluding the entire picture of Robert’s background. So, maybe do a better job.

Larry Block
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Hmmm...

The voter file shows Robert re-registered to vote at his current address on Rugby Drive in January 2022, and his partner Mark in May or 2022. Hope that helps you understand more of his background. I sent the copy to your personal address and to Robert for any feedback.

Hmmm...
Hmmm...
1 month ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Again, this date does not paint an accurate picture of residency. I’m not going to speak for anyone, but it’s not hard to find information that disproves the implication that Robert is new to West Hollywood.

Larry Block
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Hmmm...

I sent you a private email with the other data of his registration record. Oliver registered at that address in January of 22, and his parter Marc in May 2022. We do not have the resources to go to Norwalk to find out where either of them voted prior.

Jimmy palmieri
Jimmy palmieri
1 month ago

My feeling has always been the same. Minimum of 2 years living here, and a consecutive voting record in local elections for as long as you have lived here.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
1 month ago

I have a friend who lives next door to Ben Savage and he says that Ben has been his neighbor, (and a very good one), for over a decade. So Savage’s reasons for having a different address due to a stalker, seems valid.

Mikie
Mikie
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

You’re a class act, Steve! That’s one of the many reasons I’m voting for you!

Eric
Eric
1 month ago
Reply to  Mikie

Mikie, I second that, its such a pleasure to see how he conducts himself.

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