A new political campaign kicked off in West Hollywood Tuesday night (Nov. 13) with formal announcements by Steve Martin, the outspoken former city councilmember, and Sam Borelli, a longtime resident who serves on the Public Safety Commission, of their candidacies for seats now held by John Duran and Jeffrey Prang.
Martin, an attorney, made his formal announcement at The Beverly, a nightclub and lounge on Beverly Boulevard near San Vicente. He was surrounded by a couple of dozen supporters, many of whom had worked with him to put city council term limits on the upcoming March ballot.
“We want to get new blood involved,” Martin said. “We need to start preparing for new generational leadership. I’m just a transitional person. I want to move things to the next level. It’s time for the old guard to move on.”
Martin served on the council from 1994 to 2003 before losing his seat to long-time councilmember Abbe Land. Last year, he nearly unseated 27-year incumbent John Heilman.
Martin says this race will be different.
“I’ll be going in with my base,” he said, speaking of the volunteers who gathered more than 4,000 term limit petition signatures. “The incumbents have had some good numbers, but they’re (won in the past) without having any real competition.”
Martin also took stands on two controversial issues: The council’s decision to ban fur sales and the proposed redevelopment of Plummer Park, both supported by Duran. Prang, however, has taken a stand against the Plummer Park plan that was approved. Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council of America, which strongly opposed the ban, was at Martin’s kickoff party.
Of the Plummer Park plan, Martin said: “It’s embarrassing the city would demand millions of dollars from the state when the state is worried about cutting education and healthcare for people who are poor. And we want to build a performing arts center in Plummer Park? That’s obscene.”
That plan currently is on hold because the state has revoked redevelopment funds the city was counting on for the project.
While Martin has been a vocal critic of Land and Heilman, he said he’s confident he could work effectively with them.
“Heilman and I served seven years together on the budget subcommittee, and we put together some really good budgets,” Martin said. “We don’t have to agree on everything. But I think we need to have open debate, and that’s not what happens now. People pull punches and don’t want to offend other councilmembers, and that’s bullshit.”
Martin also said he’s not concerned about the candidacy of Borelli or Christopher Landavazo, who works in the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and has yet to formally announce.
“Votes I’m getting actually come out of the incumbents column,” he said. “A couple of the other candidates that are running are also taking votes out of their column. Sam and Chris are not going to be taking votes from me. My base is solid.
Thus far, Martin says he’s raised less than $10,000, but he is confident his campaign will finish with $40,000 to $60,000 — still far less than the more than $100,000 he anticipates his competition will raise.
Borelli made his formal announcement Tuesday night at Kitchen 24 on Santa Monica Boulevard. Many of those who attended Martin’s announcement also stopped by to hear Borelli. A 13-year resident of WeHo, he is a communications consultant. Borelli was appointed to the West Hollywood Public Safety Commission in 2003. He has volunteered for numerous LGBT organizations including GLSEN, Project 10, LifeWorks, and The Trevor Project, where he served on the board of directors and as vice chair. In 2007, he co-founded the LA LGBTQ Youth Advocates Coalition.
Borelli believes his strength lies in his accessibility.
“I like being out, I like walking, I don’t like driving – it’s nuts to drive,” said Borelli, who maintains a blog titled “Walking WeHo.” “I will talk to a lot of people. I will be out.”
While he didn’t take a position on council term limits, Borelli noted “4,000 people put their name on a petition, they met the goal, and that’s huge in this city. Some council members have won elections with 2,300 votes.” Like Martin, Borelli opposed the city’s plans for Plummer Park.
Jeffrey Prang announced his campaign for re-election on Sunday. Before Martin ended his speech Tuesday night, he couldn’t resist a dig at Prang, who made his announcement at a private fundraiser at a home in Hancock Park.
“The mayor had to have his kickoff event in Los Angeles, because apparently he couldn’t count on enough West Hollywood people to show up,” he quipped.