D’Amico: Challengers Unprepared to Be on City Council

John D'Amico at the city council meeting

While West Hollywood City Councilmember John D’Amico has come out in support of the Measure C term limits initiative on the March 5 ballot, he also continues to support his colleagues, incumbents John Duran and Jeff Prang, in their bid for reelection to the city council.

“I have observed the people currently running (for the two council seats up for election) and I don’t think any of them are prepared to be on the city council,” D’Amico said. “That’s why I very strongly support John and Jeff. I think they are the best two candidates to be reelected. I think they have proven their ability to lead and take care of neighborhoods and community and make wise decisions.”

Elected to the council in March 2011, D’Amico is the only member of the council to come out in support of the term limits. The other four council members – Duran, Prang, Abbe Land and John Heilman – all strongly oppose the measure.

If passed, Measure C would limit West Hollywood City Council members for three four-year terms in office. The measure is not retroactive, meaning that all current members of the council would be allowed to serve another 12 years, provided the voters keep electing them. On the current city council. Heilman has served for 28 years, Land has served for 21 years, Prang for 16 years, Duran for 12 years and D’Amico for two years.

“I’m supporting Measure C because I’m interested in setting a deadline for us, so as leaders in the community we can begin to help men and women, transgender men and women, to be ready to be on the city council,” D’Amico said. “I think it’s difficult to run for city council. It should be difficult. But I think we have to mentor people to be ready to do the hard work of running and do the hard work of being a councilperson.”

One reason D’Amico felt it necessary to go public with his support for Measure C was the fact that many residents automatically assumed he joined his four colleagues in opposing the measure.

In September when term-limit supporters were gathering signatures to qualify for the ballot, he signed the petition. However, at the time D’Amico said was opposed to term limits, and felt that coalition building was a better way to achieve change.

“I signed it because I wanted (the community) to have a discussion,” he said.

As a result of those conversations, D’Amico changed his position.

“I have spoken to probably close to 100 people about Measure C, some of them against Measure C, most of them for it,” he said. “The words that I hear over and over again are that they want to see some change on the city council.”

D’Amico hopes to send a message to voters that it’s OK to vote for term limits and also vote for Duran and Prang.

“A lot of people thought you couldn’t support Measure C and the incumbents,” D’Amico said. “But it’s reasonable to support both.”

Term limit supporters say the sudden support from D’Amico is a shot in the arm for their campaign.

“It energized us tremendously. Our volunteers are putting even more effort into getting the measure passed,” said Schmidt. “John D’Amico has shown that longevity is not a qualification for serving in public office.”

  1. I got a phone call last night promoting Duran and Prang – PAID FOR BY THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY! – that dissed Measure C as something cooked up by “outside forces.” What a crock! I will not vote for either of those two If I could, I’d vote the whole lot out of office. Of course, the developers would probably corrupt whoever take their place.

  2. It is very possible that the passing of Measure C will change the dynamics of future elections, ending the “incumbency brain freeze” of many voters, who will now think before they vote. Measure C is the best thing to happen to West Hollywood since the 1st election in 1984. It’s even possible that some of the incumbents will get it, and bow out gracefully at the end of their term, although, given their mind set, that is unlikely.

  3. Kudos to Councilmember John D’Amico for endorsing his colleagues. It was an act of political courage given the “throw the bums out” dynamic that is driving this election.

    I disagree with him about Measure C, however, because term limits have been shown to do more harm than good over time. But even if Measure C passes — and it likely will — it won’t have any practical effect, good or bad, until many years after all the current members are termed out in 2025 and 2027. The reason for this is that Measure C does not address the root problem challengers face in our elections, which is that incumbents nearly always win by getting more votes in east-city precincts than challengers.The first challenger who figures out how to beat incumbents among Russian immigrants, their families and others who live east of Fairfax will have a solid chance to win. Until then, it’s going remain very difficult to unseat incumbents in this town, with term limits or without.

    I am voting for the incumbents this time, even though I voted against all three incumbents in 2011. Replacing John Duran and Jeffrey Prang, even with the two strongest challengers, would be a lateral move at best.

  4. I’m not part of the political establishment, but I am a successful businessman and at the end of the day the City of West Hollywood is a business, and its residents, business owners and visitors are its customers. At 21, I started my company with a $10,000 loan and grew it into a 24/7 operation with 111 employees on four continents, and our clients span the globe. I understand how to balance a budget, and more importantly listen to my customer. I am prepared and excited to represent our community on the city council.

    I don’t think the city of West Hollywood wants a career “politician,” but rather a voice and results. I think that it’s insulting to the voters for D’Amico to make the blanket statement that all challengers are “unprepared.” By his definition, the only prepared candidates are those who are currently serving on the city council, which would then make elections irrelevant.

    Today’s city council, which is pretty much the same city council since the beginning, has created an entrenched political establishment. The city council doesn’t encourage community involvement, and the residents have some of the best ideas. The city needs a city council that is willing to listen and put its residents and business owners first.

    As a member of the city council, I will leverage my technology background to ensure efficiency, accountability and programs and solutions that create results and encourage its residents to stay involved while ensuring the city maintains fiscal responsibility. As an entrepreneur working with intensely bureaucratic airlines, I know how challenging it is to enable change and innovation. After years of the same, it’s time for a fresh perspective.

  5. Another reason to vote for Measure C! Talk about being unprepared – that is the dumbest thing I have heard but then again D’Amico never appeared to be that smart – just listen to him at any City Council meeting – always unsure of the question or issue at hand. No telling what deal Duran offered him for his endorsement.

  6. Wow!

    How is Steve Martin not prepared? He has already been on the counsel!

    I will not let this deter me from getting my message out.

    This makes me want to run again two years from now against John!

    Just because I can’t afford to contribute $30K to my campaign doesn’t mean that I am unprepared to be on the council.

    I am unprepared to listen to the establishment. So in that respect, I am unprepared.

    Same stuff they said about Barack Obama. John, you sound like another John . . . . John McCain!

    If John is so well prepared he would have patched things up with Heilman by now. Can’t leave it up to the community to patch things up between the two of you.

    No wondering why Congress (politicians) have a 9% approval rating.


  7. @rudolph…haha, great idea!!….

    but duran is so cocky to think no one else could possibly do the film and his legacy justice, so he’d insist on role himself….my pity would be for the writers who have to make up a bunch of BS…..as it is, when he’s not daydreaming, duran only votes yea/nay and incessantly checks his Grindr on his cell phone during public comment from his throne on the dais…..these council people don’t even respect the residents enough to pocket their phones during council meetings…..i mean, i know you need to be on standby with your developer cronies 24/7, but come on people, they can wine and dine you at soho house after the council meeting….as for your “action hero” reference rudolf, perhaps a bobblehead would be more appropriate….

  8. I hope everyone realizes that our city of Weho is doing quite well financially, and is very sound. You also need to know that most of the current City Council have steered the ship in this direction. We all have our issues which are important to us, but let’s not lose site of the big picture. Love them or hate them, the Council has done a pretty good job of keeping us on solid ground. A lot of cities cannot say that.

  9. Woody – Mr. Duran seems able to concoct stirring stories of his heroism.
    Barney Fife – I laughed like a drain!!!

    Mr. D’Amico did in fact promote “Go-Go Appreciation Day”. I wrote to him to suggest how he could make it an even better event by including female go-go dancers who were pioneers in both the go-go cage and the pole(although I hardly saw the point at all) and he informed me that that was “then” and that this was a “gay thing”. I have the email. It was insulting to me because this is a city of all people – gay and straight. Quite frankly I thought it was a tactless and stupid comment. If he reads this – he may think back and realize it WAS stupid as well.

  10. Actually this is coming back to me. I recall that folks from the LAPD & others involved in the pursuit of the arsonist, were appearing at a press/news conference to update the public, then suddenly Duran appeared, like Barney Fife, in front of the camera to declare that he was practicing for a terrorist attack, I paraphrase, but it actually was something to that effect .I remember it caused hearty laughter in the room, myself included.. We were incredulous. There must be some local news footage of this available online somewhere, you simply cannot make this stuff up.

  11. @”me”, i had not seen that mailer, seriously? i had no idea that John Duran led the manhunt from his command center! this deserves a movie version: “Under Fire – The John Duran Story” (They Messed With The Wrong Guy – How One Mayor Brought Down A Man That Terrorized An Entire City). I see Sylvester Stallone or Danny Trejo in the lead role, or we can go more Hollywood and have Ben Affleck play Duran (he plays Hispanic in Argo), or should Mr. Duran play himself? A movie career might put him in a position to be the next action hero governor!

  12. Question 1. How does one prepare? Is there a Cliff notes or an online tech school that can prepare a person to sit in judgment for an entire city of 35K+? Question 2. What experience did John D’Amico bring to the chamber? Question 3. Does integrity or honesty factor in and if so when and where and how? Question 4. Does one have to bring common sense, good judgment and user friendly ideas to the seat they win or buy? Question 5. Must prepared candidates promise to shun special interest groups and refuse money from them? Question 6. (no credit for this one) Was the poor. used and misused Lindsay Horvath prepared – at all? Question 7. Would prior experience in city government and/or time on the council itself count as a form of preparedness (this is also called experience)?

    Deluded, lazy, disengaged residents of WeHo will ignore the polls on March 5 and not vote. They should then never complain again about anything that relates to Council decisions. I know for whom and for what I will be voting. My vote will then mean I have participated in the process and have a say. And I will say this now – somebody should be investigating campaign donations, baksheesh, bribes, special gifts for special consideration. If you have done any of these things – well you know who you are and what you have done. I suspect many others are becoming aware of it as well. Oops.

    “When a serial arsonist attacked our City in 2011, then-Mayor John Duran led an aggressive response – directing on-the-ground efforts and marshaling every resource available to protect our neighborhoods…and bring the criminal to swift justice.”


  14. Has John D’Amico consumed the Kool-Aid? I am trying to wrap my brain around this seemingly “lost-his-mind” piece. Or is it the old song “Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye?” I can think of a whole host of political reasons why D’Amico might want to show support for his buddies the incumbents, particularly Duran, his long-time friend, who helped put him in office, but for him to say that the challengers, in toto, are “unprepared” borders on irrational. I am disappointed and saddened to see that it has come to this. Yes, there are some candidates who are unprepared to become a council member, but to say that Steve Martin or Sam Borelli are unprepared is beyond quizzical. I hope John D’Amico will comment on this blog and explain what he means by “unprepared.” My second question for D’Amico would be “how does one become prepared if there is no mentoring by “life-time” councilmembers? Mr. Heilman and Ms. Land picked and appointed Ms. Horvath with no mentoring or experience whatsoever. Others have pointed out that Heilman was a law student, Land was a waitress, and Duran himself has admitted he had only been to one council meeting before he ran for and won a seat. Please Mr. D’Amico, comment here and do let us know what you meant by your terms. Especially what one has to do to be prepared. Thank you.

  15. D’Amico is an expert on being unprepared for council, as he has demonstrated so clearly over the past two years. He appeared so thoughtful as a candidate, but his calm, attentive demeanor was just masking a general cluelessness and lack of clarity on the issues facing the city. I feel like he’s added absolutely zero value to the council and is in way over his head. I’m voting for Sam Borelli because of his passion and energy. He’s also a genuinely nice guy and with real ideas and a love for his community.

  16. After coming out for Yes on Measure C, this latest pronouncement, “I don’t think any of them [the non-incumbents] are prepared to be on the city council,” is more than a little disingenuous. Really? He doesn’t think Steve Martin is “prepared” to be on the City Council?

    Following along with his additional logic, he seems to be saying that Steve could only be prepared to serve on Council if a Councilmember like himself mentored Steve. Well, I certainly can’t be the only one who finds that amusing!

    In fact, I’d go further and say despite serving two years on the Council, there is still a great deal John D’Amico could learn… from Steve Martin.

    D’Amico could have used any number of justifications for supporting his fellow incumbents, but this one undermines everything about his own candidacy two years ago… especially in regards to Steve Martin’s candidacy now. One of Steve’s principal positions then and now is to stop over-development. Wasn’t that D’Amico’s main campaign theme? He wanted to stop “bigger, louder, faster?”

    Perhaps he also needs to be reminded that Jeff Prang supported Lindsey Horvath over him in the last election using similar logic. Is being one of the insiders, now, really so intoxicating that he has forgotten why he ran in the first place? That may be a question that many of his supporters are asking themselves right now.

  17. Today D’Amico showed his true hand and is now officially part of the axis of evil….he just didn’t show minor support to the incumbents, he’s raised the flag, brought in the guns and planned an all out assault against the challengers in support of the “frick & frack show”…..i’m sorry i voted for d’amico now, as he has very clearly moved over to the side of what is wrong with this city….d’amico hasn’t brought anything forward while in office in 2 years…. N-O-T-H-I-N-G…..he hasn’t gotten anything done with the voting block he seems to think he has…..i’ve asked for a list of his accomplishments thus far and i can’t seem to get one….he just changed his mind on term limits which tells me that he actually thinks prang/duran SHOULD NOT still be in office since they’ve already been there much longer than the 12 years would allow…..but alas, i understand that he only backs them because if they win, and he didn’t support them, he’d be the secluded one without a hope in the world….i say he’s already there because prang is a fence-sitter and duran is so volatile that you never know how he’s going to act out and vote

    1. To “Me,” in response to your 10:53 a.m. comment, D’Amico HAS brought forth one idea (exactly): Go Go Appreciation Day, where the city spends tens of thousands of dollars throwing an event for a couple hundred attendees (many of whom probably aren’t even residents) to honor a bunch of muscle dudes dancing on a stage for cash. Meanwhile, the profession seems to be doing just fine without any help from taxpayer money.

      And in response to your 2:55 p.m. comment, I think WehoVille should look into those claims and find out if there’s any merit that Duran had any involvement in “leading” an aggressive response or “directing” on-the-ground efforts. That’s a pretty big claim, I hope it’s backed up (for his sake) with some truth.

  18. Everything I’ve read and heard and seen makes me think that Martin and Borelli are eminently qualified and, further, heads and shoulders above most of the incumbents ethically. I would have felt differently about D’Amico, but now he’s just like the others–go along to get along. A shame.

  19. What D’Amico really means: I don’t think any of them are prepared to be on the city council because they’ve not lined their pockets with developer money. (Also, he’s probably getting the smack-down from Duran.)

  20. This is a bit baffling as well as amusing, even though I can’t quite grasp the point of this whole article. Steve Martin is not prepared? After serving on the City Council for years already, having been a very visible & accessible community leader & activist for decades, he is more “prepared” than anyone on this council has ever been, past or present. Did the council feel that Lindsey Horvath was prepared when they appointed her? How prepared were Duran & Prang to take these seats, completely inexperienced & unqualified? How prepared was Abbe Land who I’m told was a waitress before taking a seat on the City Council? How prepared even was our original City Council? John Heilman was a 20 something student, Helen Albert was a retired teacher, Steve Schulte was a nude model, Valerie Terrigno was a former switchboard operator who was elected then convicted & jailed for embezzling money from a previous job. I wish the councilman would have provided more substance to back up his claim of the present candidate’s unpreparedness, otherwise, it’s all sizzle & no steak. Besides, one politician pushing for votes for another politician always rubs me the wrong way.

  21. Aside from D’Amico’s considerable war chest and time on the planning commission, was he “prepared” to be on the City Council? If Tom DeMille hires the experienced Donna Saur to be his deputy, does that make him “prepared” to be on the Council? How about Sam Borelli? He’s been on the Public Safety commission and involved in many civic activities. Is he also not “prepared” for the job?

    Each candidate will appeal to different voters with different priorities — including the incumbents. I’d really miss Jeff Prang’s email updates if he weren’t there, but maybe a new council member would be able to do a better job. Everyone has to make up his/her own mind.

    I voted for John D’Amico because I think the West Hollywood City Council needed a new face, a new direction and a new perspective. I’d also seen him in Planning Commission meetings and I often agreed with his analysis of a project or city policy. That said, I also liked Lauren Meister during her short tenure on the Planning Commission and I’m disappointed that she chose not to run this year. I think we need more qualified women running for and elected to the City Council.

    However, each of the challengers has his own qualities that may be valuable to the city at this juncture. Isn’t that a good enough reason to vote for one of the non-incumbents?

  22. Wow — what made D’Amico so prepared when he ran? Having Duran’s support? Make a deal with the devil and this is what you get, folks. Steve Martin has done his time in the community both on council and off for the last 20+ years. Sam Borelli has been volunteering his time for this city for the last 10 years. Councilmember D’Amico’s assessment of the non-incumbent candidates is truly shocking, especially considering his campaign just two short years ago. Vote YES on C. Time to put an end to the arrogance.

  23. so…hmmm…let me get this straight, mr. d’amico: you’ve been on the council for 2 years and you have observed steve martin (who’s been on the council what, 9 years?) and you’ve come to the conclusion that he’s not ‘prepared’?

    what a curious assessment!
    sam borelli has been on city commissions for what? 10 years? he’s not ‘prepared’?

    and ‘we’ have to mentor people to ‘prepare’ them to be on the council? we’re already a one-party town but that sounds dangerously like china!

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