The Real Estate Money is On D’Amico, Guardarrama, Horvath and Heilman in Tuesday’s Council Election

The real estate development community is throwing its support heavily behind Mayor John D’Amico, Councilmember John Heilman and challengers Joe Guardarrama and Lindsey Horvath in the upcoming West Hollywood City Council election.

Real Estate ContributionsThe most recent campaign finance reports, which cover the period from Jan. 18 to Feb. 14, 2015, show that roughly 36 percent of the $622,000 in donations thus far comes from real estate interests. Those interests include developers, real estate agents, real estate investors and lobbyists and lawyers who work for developers of West Hollywood projects.

D’Amico, who has said the city needs to manage development more carefully, is the recipient of 29 percent of real estate money. Next is Guardarrama, a lawyer who has been endorsed by D’Amico and is a close friend, with 24 percent of the real estate dollars. Lindsey Horvath has received 22 percent of real estate money, followed by incumbent Councilmember John Heilman, who has received 21 percent

Challenger Lauren Meister, who is a critic of what she sees as the City Council’s willingness to override existing zoning laws to accommodate new development, has received only four percent of the money donated by real estate interests. Other candidates in the race have received less than one percent.

Revised local contributionsThe latest campaign donation reports show that the Tuesday election, as in years past, continues to be dominated by donations from out of town interests, which include real estate developers, billboard companies that need the Council’s approval for some projects and city vendors such as Athens Services, the trash collector, whose contract was extended for 15 years by the Council last year without putting it out to bid.

Meister is the largest recipient of donations from local residents and business owners, with 30 percent of all local contributions made in this election thus far going to her (they constitute 78 percent of all the contributions made on her behalf). She is followed by Larry Block, with 21 percent, John Heilman with 14 percent, John D’Amico and Lindsey Horvath, with 10 percent each, Joe Guardarrama with nine percent and James “Duke” Mason, who got six percent of donations from locals.

D’Amico has collected 25 percent of total donations, including those from an independent expenditure committee outside his control that is campaigning for him. Next is Horvath, with 20 percent, followed by Guardarrama (17 percent), Meister (15 percent), Heilman (14 percent), Mason (five percent) and Block (four percent). Candidates John Allendorfer, Brian Funnagan, Christopher Landavazo, Matt Ralston and Tristan Schukraft have reported small or no contributions.

Overall Contributions

  1. Hank, thank you for your thorough reporting. I do have to add a big missing piece: the PAC that has been organized by Duran has collected $130,000 This PAC was created to protect Heilman, get Horvath back on Council and elect Guadarrama. It’s all money from special interests, commercial real estate interests…. City Clerk records: It’s not a small detail and I trust it was just an oversight.

  2. I’m tired of Heilman’s rubber-stamping approach to density and development, and Horvath’s clearly his puppet. He’s desperate to retain control now that Land and Prang are gone, so he’s counting on Horvath to vote in lock-step with him – just as she did during her brief, unelected tenure on the city council. She has no voice of her own. Voting her in would be terrible for this city.

    Interestingly, Guardarrama is being championed by both the Heilman team AND the D’Amico team. Meister’s also been touted as part of the D’Amico alliance. I swear, this election’s like “Survivor”! Meanwhile, Larry Block actually seems like a decent man who can bring in a fresh perspective.

    Heilman’s likely going to be re-elected, because many WeHo voters aren’t ready for a council without any of the old guard on it, but he’ll be considerably defanged if Horvath and Guardarrama aren’t there beside him.

    My votes are going to Block, Meister, and D’Amico. Hopefully they will bring about some positive change.

  3. when CES, the organization that put weho on the ballot as its own city in order to protect renters says d’amico and meister represent “BIG Real Estate interests who oppose renters’ rights,” people better shut up and listen. both d’amico and meister are supported by jerome nash, the wealthy landlord responsible for the law, ellis law, that lets property owners evict all its tenants and build new “high-end” projects.

  4. Hank and his staff deserve continued thanks and applause. We haven’t had a “paper of record” in this town providing such a service since – someone please tell me when? Their consistent good work and analysis is not only greatly appreciated but, perhaps more importantly, serves as our careful eye, watch-dogging the beast of local politics. Think global, act local…

  5. Residents support Heilman more than D’Amico and developers support D’Amico more than Heilman.

    Good to know.

  6. Shawn – by your logic, Jerry Brown was equally wrong to run two terms since legally he could after they were enacted. Term limits – a key part of Newt Gingrich’s contract for America, a totally Republican idea, is for losers incapable of winning any other way.

    It will almost certainly be D’Amico and Heilman winning, with Meister and Guardaramma likely the third (not the Meister might not be 1st or 2nd). Heilman has by far the most effective flyers (where the race is won). Meister’s embracing of D’Amico hasn’t done her any favors.

    And I’ve yet had anyone from the Meister campaign deny the repeated report that her campaign is managed by a Republican. B/w that and her support for a key part of the Republican agenda (as well as her clearly being the candidate for the wealthy new home owners in SW WeHo), I don’t trust her at all.

  7. What does it matter that Block gave himself $10K? That says to me that he’s willing to put his money where his mouth is – he’s so dedicated to his cause that he’s willing to pay for it so that he doesn’t have to be beholden to outside interests. And as far as I can tell, the only thing that money is doing is clogging up my mailbox with daily fliers and my phone with daily voice messages.

  8. Does the first chart include the 10K loan Larry gave himself? If so, then that % is a little misleading..? Great work, btw!

  9. I predict Lauren Meister & John D’Amico for big wins & it wouldn’t surprise me if Lauren takes first place. I also think I know who the 3rd place winner will be but I’m reserving my prediction for the moment. I’m hoping it will be Larry Block. I think he has a good enough record as a community leader & activist that he deserves a chance on the City Council. Voters say they want change & we can’t make change unless we give candidates like Larry who are new, but have worked hard to improve the community, a chance. This is our opportunity to practice what we preach. Today’s WeHo voters are better informed than ever, thanks in no small part to WeHoville, & to keep voting for the same old people over & over again makes no sense whatsoever. How else are we going to clean up the mess at City Hall?

  10. My two cents on this would be a few things.
    1. It takes money to get elected…so anyone who runs has to fund raise to have a shot and be in the mix
    2. Because of the citizens united case PACS are free to poll their money together and buy influence into a campaign by the mailers they create. This is spun or said is freedom of expression. I would argue a group, or company isn’t a person. It should ideally be one person, one vote. Corporations, PACS, Independent campaign election committees, all of them have too big an influence in our democracy with their money. I don’t think that’s what was intended when our democracy was set up by our founding fathers, and hopefully one day soon the citizen’s united decision will be repealed
    3. Every candidate is under the same system. So unless we reform the system they all have to play the game and source money. Where it’s sourced from shines a light on how this money is influencing our little democracy’s election. But if the system isn’t reformed it is how it all works.
    4. Both Mr Heilman and Horvath who was appointed by him on council to fill a vacancy for Sal when he passed away, not by an election in the community, have a voting record of approving density and zoning side steps. And when Horvath actually ran for election she lost. The voters didn’t support her for more time on council. Now she’s back, which she can be, but her past impact and votes on the council have been aimed like Heiman’s at approving more density and side stepping the zoning laws.
    5. So they both have a voting record of using the zoning over ride of using the “Statement of overriding considerations” on a development vote that allows the developer to side step zoning codes and get more density.
    6. They both have been a part of the spin that projects that offer something significant to the community should get to break the zoning code in their size and restrictions.
    7. What is the benefit in actuality to the community on many of these projects is subjective. To many they just see the developer getting the most potential revenue and size and density from their project, as the quality of life of the residents continues to be impacted with new density, traffic and rent control apartments being destroyed and replaced with high end apartments the working class can never live in, because of what the new developers want as far as rent per new unit
    8. I don’t think it’s black and white as some suggest as far as the idea of new development in the city. Either yes to it all or no to it all. The point for many is that new development is both size and density sensitive to the neighborhood. Doesn’t overly create more traffic impact with new “TRIPS” in flow in and out of it. Is placed on a parcel that has the right street sizes for its flow. And even though affordable housing is always used to sell density to the public. By law anything new has to have 20% affordable. So it’s not like the developer is doing the community a favor with affordable units. They have to.
    9. D’Amico in my opinion has a track record both in votes and comments on council to be advocating for right size, right community impact development. He appears to be since he’s the newest on council the only voice for finding the middle road and a departure for the old Heilman, Land, Duran, Prang agenda to approve everything and side stepping the zoning and taking payments on behalf of the city, into its accounts for these new big buildings.
    10.So yes its true D’Amico has the highest percentage of developer donations, but over the last 4 years I haven’t seen him be yes to everything. He was the first to start disclosing his donations before a vote. And I personally think he was the only one on council moving, advocating and discussing a shift in density or developer zoning and development agreement perks.
    11. In the end unless the campaign donation limits or system is reformed they all need to get money to be elected. I think the more important thing is to look at their track record if they have been on council and drill down to how they have voted. It’s clear to me both Heilman and Horvath have approved more density over and over again
    12. I think Hank has done an excellent job and service to the community with his “Who Owns Weho” work to shine a light of transparency on how the money flows in and to ask the question, how does this influence our community, and how clean is the process in how where it is sourced from is disclosed to the community. In a prior election some investigating by Hank found that some donations tracked back weren’t from residents , and the person listed as donating didn’t even know or willingly taken their own action and money and donating. So the question was raised if money is coming in in a less than good faith manner. Also I think its excellent by Hank that instead of having to go to the city’s web site and try and understand the Campaign Donation records of the candidates, which I have done and is very time consuming. He has been summarizing and analyzing it for the community. I think the more residents and voters know the better, to guide their votes and to be a part of our democracy. To be an informed voter is to know the voting record of those seeking reelection. To know their present platform, and also the new candidate’s to know their platform. All of this information is needed to vote for the individual who best reflects what someone wants in the community. Political mailers are used to blur this, spin this, or make the bold facts clouded.
    For me as well Mr Heilman has been on Council already for 30 years. And in fact the voters passed limiting candidates now for more than 3 terms or twelve years, going forward. And he is ignoring that voice of the community and trying to get four more years? Its clear many in the community don’t want career politicians. They want rotation of leadership. And for me personally I think it’s not fair to block other resident’s from having the opportunity to serve on council. And Mr Heilman is being very selfish with his connections, money and influence in the community, by trying to hold onto his seat on council again By looking for four more years..
    Isn’t it time to let someone else in the community serve?

    In the end unless individuals are informed their vote has less impact to their community and then neighborhood they call home

  11. and who is miester’s biggest supporter? damico! sound like she is a shill for damico and his develper backers. a wolf in sheeps clothing. come on people. follow the money. clearly the dollars point right at the mayor and his propped up pawns, meister and guaddarrama.

  12. And say what you will… D’Amico still has my vote. Though it’s been a shaky hand holding his ballot in recent days. Don’t screw it up JD; March 3rd is a lifetime away in politics.

  13. Riley is right! Meister is the only one running with both the interests of the city’s residents at heart through responsible development AND the experience through her work on various commissions to hit the ground running.

  14. you see, this is terrific reporting and should open eyes.
    real estate development is not a bad thing per se, but when a small city city like west hollywood allows for a transformation that goes beyond what might be in the best interest of the residents, residents must say enough.

    heilman must go, d’amico is a trojan horse, and the others are lap dogs of the establishment counsel.

    thanks for this cash breakdown, and readers should take heed.

  15. The VOTERS will decide if they want THEIR city run by real estate developers or by residents and local businesses. Look at these charts closely. They tell the story. Lauren Meister is the clear choice for slowing things down and having responsible development in OUR city.

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