Why I’m Running for City Council: Cole Ettman

EDITOR’S NOTE: WEHOville is inviting candidates in the 2015 City Council election to share with its readers (and thus the city’s voters) why they are running.  This is the first in a series of occasional essays by candidates.

My story is a classic love story and a not-so-classic one. I started out falling in love with someone who became the catalyst for changing my life and encouraging me to move across the country. But then, I fell in love again. This time with a city — West Hollywood. And made it my home.

Cole Ettman
Cole Ettman

I grew up 3,000 miles away in Brooklyn, N.Y. My father was a woodworker and my mother an elementary school teacher in the public school system. I was just another “borough boy” who attended inner-city schools, where I was actually a minority. On weekends, if I wasn’t working at the bowling alley, you could find me at the Coney Island boardwalk, riding the Cyclone and munching on Nathan’s hot dogs.

My grandparents, who were holocaust survivors, taught me a lot about the world beyond Brooklyn–about struggle, courage and compassion. I felt a deep moral responsibility to give my neighbors the same opportunities that I sometimes took for granted.

In New York I worked for the Council for Unity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting tolerance and diversity, while curbing bullying and gang violence in public schools. I also became active in local government, serving as the Deputy to a New York City Councilman. We dealt with issues of urban redevelopment, capital projects and providing social services for low income seniors and Russian-speaking constituents. It was a chance for me to work closely with the community, to listen to people and their concerns and help to make it a better place to live for everyone.  I took pride in being the point person that people came to when they had a problem that need to be resolved.

But, while I was doing my best to help others in their struggles, I was neglecting to be honest about my own.  I identified in so many ways: son, grandson, friend, volunteer, Jew, public servant. However, I had not yet acknowledged another identity, that  of being a gay man. Would my family approve? Would my career be negatively  impacted? Would the community I worked so hard to serve turn against me?  I was lucky that someone came along who challenged me to start living my life for who I am. So at 31, the kid who thought he would never leave New York, packed his bags and moved out West. When I arrived in West Hollywood, I knew I was home.

It’s the spirit of unity here and the open arms acceptance of all people that excites me so much. After all, it’s how West Hollywood was founded 30 years ago. A coalition of Russians, Jews, seniors, gays and renters wanted their unincorporated neighborhood of Los Angeles to be an affordable place for everyone. They fought and won. And, in 1984 the “City of West Hollywood” was born, adopting one of the most progressive rent control laws in the nation.

What is it about todays West Hollywood that excites me?  Our beautiful parks for starters.  WeHo park will become a model for cities across the country when Phase II is completed.  Cosmo and I walk the park regularly ,and he is adamant about having a place to go off-leash with other dogs!  Plummer Park has a wonderful community feel to it, with historic Great Hall-Long Hall and beautiful mature trees providing refuge for seniors enjoying the day.  As a Public Facilities commissioner I am working hard to make sure the communities’ input in the development of our park land, which is so scarce in this city, is heard by the City Council.  I love our walkable city, and the diversity of offerings it has, including great restaurants, homegrown businesses, the Sunset Strip, and Boystown.

It’s important to bring back the coalition building that created this city as we continue to grow. Development is key to building a great city.   I want to make sure that anyone can  call West Hollywood home — whether its a long time senior resident, a new family, or a gay young person from the middle of the country seeking safe refuge.

As Ive matured, my commitment to public service has only continued to grow. I know I can bring my experience, energy, and dedication to help build upon our great city. After much thought and lots of encouragement, Ive decided to declare my candidacy for OUR City Council. Some naysayers tell me its too soonor that Im not well known enough.Challenges have never stopped me. There is a tremendous opportunity, right now, to make the changes that our city needs. West Hollywood embraced me, giving me a new beginning, a new life, and now I want to give back.

I have the next six months to  earn your vote, as well as your trust. And I’m up for the challenge.

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Honest Colleague
Honest Colleague
5 years ago

Since your late to every single meeting,..including the public safety commission.. it’s no wonder why your own commission colleagues voted for Adam Bass as Chair, and Donna Saur for vice chair and didn’t include you in the nominations. Then you arrived late again and and asked for a re-vote. It appears your agenda is a self-promoting agenda and not a team agenda.

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
5 years ago

Romanoff: Whatever with your comment.

“Development and the associated new tax revenues” have not fixed our “infrastructure problem” in 100 years.

What fixed it was a major break that spilled 2 million gallons of water and the public outcry that ensued. This main pipe along Sunset will now be replaced from Fairfax to Beverly Hills.

Virginia Gillick
Virginia Gillick
5 years ago

I am happy to see thoughtful people who are going to try to help our little City stay a home to anyone who wants to live here.

Brent
Brent
5 years ago

Watch his YouTube video. Enough said.

Romanoff
Romanoff
5 years ago

Whatever with this guy’s essay….

Pat Dixon:
Development doesn’t cause water pipe breaks, having a 100 year old system causes water pipe breaks.
Development and the associated new tax revenues will fix our infrastructure problem.

Michael
Michael
5 years ago

Pat-

If all you remember was that one line regarding development, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. He clearly talked about preserving our park space. I’m glad to see a refreshing candidate like Cole running for public office.

Pat Dixon
Pat Dixon
5 years ago

Coe, Coe, Coe – the last thing we need n this city is more development. I think the water breaks in the past few days, is proof that our infrastructure , and people, are paying a high price. I think, once again, a moratorium is due for all future development.

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
5 years ago

no, Alison, the Historic Preservation Commission can merely comment or make a recommendation on the study that examines different ways of moving the buildings. Only the city council can vote on its fate and they surely won’t do that before the election.

Alison
Alison
5 years ago

Rudolph, it’s already too late. A meeting tonight already decides the fate of Great Hall/Long Hall. I missed it. It is going to be moved or mothballed.

Waynbebeau
Waynbebeau
5 years ago

“Development is key to building a great city.” You’ve got to be kidding!

You lost me at DEVELOPMENT. Enough, actually way too much…already.

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
5 years ago

If Heilman/Land have their way, then “historic Great Hall-Long Hall and beautiful mature trees providing refuge for seniors enjoying the day” will literally become history and make way for the “big brown lawn” in the scorching sun.

I hope Cole Ettman will be able to take that message to the russian community loud and clear.

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
5 years ago

I agree with Jonathan above. Having set questions each candidate can answer would be far better at determining where they stand on keypoint issues.