Opinion: Why I Support John Heilman for City Council

I was proud to be a candidate for City Council in the election we held here in West Hollywood on March 3rd. Although I didn’t win, it was incredibly rewarding to meet the voters across West Hollywood, to listen their stories, to hear about their needs and concerns. From the Russian seniors to the LGBT youth I met along the campaign trail, the residents of West Hollywood are an incredible people, and my passion and desire to fight for their interests remains stronger than ever.

James "Duke" Mason
James “Duke” Mason

The first step in ensuring that those communities, the people who make us who we are, are protected for the future is to make sure we make the right choice on June 2nd, the upcoming special election taking place to fill the remainder of L.A. County Assessor Jeff Prang’s City Council seat for the next two years. It has become abundantly clear to me that the right person to fill that seat and lead our city forward is our longtime Councilmember, the great John Heilman.

I’d met John several times in the last few years, but I got to know him well as we both ran our respective campaigns for City Council. Not only was he kind and gracious, but, unlike many in politics these days, was incredibly inclusive (despite my young age, something some tried to hold against me) and treated me with respect and dignity. This from a man who created our city, who is responsible for the beautiful, amazing West Hollywood we have today, who had absolutely nothing to gain from taking me seriously and giving me the benefit of his time, advice and wisdom.

I think that speaks to his integrity, as a man and as a Council member. Do we agree on every single issue? Of course not. In fact I anticipate we’ll have some pretty big disagreements on various fronts in the future. But if you vote for someone expecting that you’ll be in agreement with them 100 percent of the time, you’re bound to be very disappointed. Do I think new leadership and change are healthy things for a city? Absolutely. But change for the sake of change is reckless and irresponsible, and John, with his institutional knowledge and proven commitment to the progressive values we believe in, is far and away the best choice of the field of candidates.

John, in addition to Cleve Jones, Ivy Bottini and others like them, is an icon of the gay movement. There wouldn’t be the West Hollywood, the gay mecca as we know it today, if it weren’t for him. One of the longest serving openly gay elected officials in U.S. history, John led the fight to create domestic partnerships in our city (among the first cities in the world to do so) and to fight HIV/AIDS at a critical time for our community.

John is responsible for creating the diverse urban village feel that makes West Hollywood so unique and special. He was initially elected, in addition to the cause of gay rights, on the issue of tenants rights, affordable housing and rent control; he created our city’s rent stabilization ordinance to protect disadvantaged people from the big landlords and developers. From the beginning of his political career, John has always been about protecting the people’s interests vs. the special interests.

When it comes to transparency and accountability in government, John Heilman has been a leader. John, along with our great former Councilmember Abbe Land, fought hard on several occasions to pass a law banning former city employees, former members of the city advisory boards and/or commissions and former campaign managers from lobbying the Council. You may not always agree with him, but you know exactly where he stands, and you know he’s doing it for the right reasons, as he always has.

At a recent endorsement meeting for the West Hollywood/Beverly Hills Democratic Club, I was shocked by some of the words said by our outgoing Mayor, John D’Amico, who was aggressively advocating against giving the club’s endorsement to John Heilman (an endorsement Heilman won soon after, despite D’Amico’s words, with 60 percent support). D’Amico talked about “West Hollywood 2.0,” about how it was time for our city to change and move forward without Heilman’s leadership. After all, D’Amico said, “it’s not like we’re going to bury the man. He’s going to be fine!” Quite frankly, I felt the Mayor’s words to be unnecessarily rude and condescending, and unbecoming of an elected government official. This, by the way, was in addition to the comments the Mayor made to me directly back in January that he thought Heilman would lose in the March race as 250 of his Russian voters/supporters die between each election.

D’Amico went on to say that it was a new century and that it’s time for the new generation to have their say in the process. Well, with all due respect Mr. Mayor, my generation can speak for ourselves. And there are many, and I mean many, of us who are stridently in support of Councilmember Heilman’s candidacy- we believe in the leadership and progressive vision he has fought for over the last 30 years and want to have him representing our interests on the Council once again. And that’s because John Heilman cares about us, the people of West Hollywood, and our future.

Editor’s Note: WEHOville will publish endorsements such as this for the June 2 City Council race from unsuccessful candidates in the March 3 race such as James Duke Mason.


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Guillermo
Guest
Guillermo

Lynn: I’m not entirely sure what you mean by credentials?

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Guillermo: would you mind sharing your credentials with us?

Guillermo
Guest
Guillermo

@joetheplummber I think Heilman represents an old guard which people want to see changed. The major issue with Shink which concerns me is her record on being on the West Hollywood Planning Commission. I do like the fact that she’s an eastside resident as I think the council is far too dominated by people from the west-end. I have no real thoughts on Etman, I liked what he said in his transit ideas. He seems to be running a campaign based on ideas. I like his ideas on traffic for instance. Block – I went to vote and saw him… Read more »

joetheplummber
Guest
joetheplummber

@Guilermo: Tell us what you know!

Heilman: Seems clearly knowledgeable. Best Qualified.
Shink: What concerns you? We’ve heard concerns but mostly that she really has no record.
Etman: Agreed; seems balanced and fair but not yet ready for prime time–thoughts?
Block: Not sure who, what where he is for/against.

Guillermo
Guest
Guillermo

I haven’t really decided anything about this election. But my thoughts so far are : Heilman – Has been having diminishing returns from voters for years. Lost last election. Does not seem to recognize that his time in the sun is over, and should probably step aside for a younger generation Shink – Her record concerns me. However she seems to be running based on good ideas. Etman – Is running based on good ideas, but otherwise I have no idea who he is. How is he gonna get traction to really do anything? He seems to be someone who… Read more »

Disco Dan
Guest
Disco Dan

I think Mr. Mason, by endorsing Mr. Heilman, is because: 1) He hopes Heilman regains his seat on the City Council and, if so, 2) That Mr. Heilman will appoint him to a Commission thereby establishing a “base” to further his own future political objectives. What a sell-out !

mike dunn
Guest
mike dunn

Cassandra, you are the first person who has ever agreed with me about that awfull library and parking structure. It could have been built with the majority of it underground. But it was not just Hielman who supported it, it was the entire City Council. The same is true concerning the paving over of the rest of the park. With the final vote about two months ago concerning phase two the Dog Park portion was not debated at all. At $750,000 I believe there should have been some discussion but Mayor D’Amico pointed the debate away from that and pushed… Read more »

Jay Landesman
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Jay Landesman

@Mike Dunn FYI, there are actually 4 candidates

Manny
Guest
Manny

Hey DK, why don’t you write and opinion piece using your real name.

How do you think that’s going to go over?

DK
Guest

My understanding of journalism, at least objective journalism, is that competing opinions should be actively and aggressively pursued in order to provide balance. This is especially true of electioneering, lest campaign operative manipulate media outlets into unwittingly becoming an arm of their own pet issues.

But it’s not my website. *shrug*

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

We do seek differing opinions and I’m quite surprised how many people aren’t willing to take the time to offer them. Every City Council member, for example, has been approached about writing an opinion piece. Only John d’Amico has actually done that. It is encouraging that most – though not all — candidates have offered their responses to the Citizen Agenda questions raised by our readers.

Manny
Guest
Manny

@One of Cassandra’s Snakes….Of course we need more parking, of course we need two pools…..You must be the one snake stuck in the past, or just not paying attention.

Thanks Hank for setting “DK” straight….. His/her rants are getting tired.

Oh Oh, is “Jay Landesman” going to tell me my comments are tired too?…..lol….come on “Jay”, where are you?

Disco Dan
Guest
Disco Dan

Does anyone remember maybe back in the 90s when Heilman proposed a City Council edifice in WH Park that resembled, as I recall, the Crystal Cathedral ? Talk about ego and grandiosity ! Mercifully, that never came to pass due to the outcry from WeHo residents. WHY Mr. Mason is endorsing Mr. Heilman can only be related to his lack of knowledge of what transpired during Mr. Heilman’s “reign.” John devoted over 30 years to the city, some very good and some very bad. It’s time he gracefully retired, or like some of his predecessors sought another public office. And… Read more »

DK
Guest

Mike Dunn is your classic Heilman supporter; his comment history on this site shows he is an avowed anti-Obama Republican with tinges of anti-black bigotry (see his comments on “D’Amico and Meister Win City Council Election”-3/3/15 and “On the Eve of P.U.M.P.’s Opening , There’s More Drama in Its Landlord’s Lawsuit”-5/12/14). And if Heilman gets back on Council — which he likely will not since voters clearly and rightly want change — he, Horvath, and Duran will enact more corporatist Republican-type policies that sacrifice middle class well-being to monied interests. That’s not what West Hollywood needs. Heidi Shink or Larry… Read more »

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

WEHOville welcomes relevant and well-written opinion pieces from everyone. We do not refuse to publish a piece on one side of an issue because those on the other side don’t want to take the time to express themselves.

mike dunn
Guest
mike dunn

DK, as usual you make assumptions that are baseless and this time inflammatory. I’m not a Republican, I’m a Conservative. You are correct, I dislike Obama because in my opinion he is either stupid or corrupt. He clearly is not qualified to hold the office of President. Investigation after investigation each time with no cooperation by the White House and in most cases the erection of barriers to hinder the investigations. At no time have I ever made remarks that could be construed as bigoted except by a person like you who complains continuously because of your failure to succeed… Read more »