WeHo City Council Incumbents Are Pulling in the Dollars for the March 7 Election

The race is on! Many political observers expected candidates for the March 2017 West Hollywood City Council election would lay low until after the Nov. 7 Presidential election.

John Heilman
John Heilman

But Chris and Lisa Bonbright have announced a fundraiser on Wednesday for Councilmember John Heilman’s re-election campaign. Chris Bonbright is a commercial real estate broker at Avison-Young and managing partner at Café Gratitude restaurants in Southern California. He is former chair of the Beverly Hills Architectural Commission and former President of the Hollywood Property Owners Association. He also is a member of the executive committee of Visit West Hollywood.

The fundraiser will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at Gracias Madre, on Melrose Avenue, which, like Bonbright’s Café Gratitude, is vegan. Those attending are asked to send an email to erin.byrne@avisonyoung.com.

To date only Heilman and Councilmember John Duran have filed papers with the city clerk stating their intention to run for re-election. Duran also has been active in soliciting contributions for his campaign. A statement filed with the city clerk shows that between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, Duran raised $115,556.

John Duran
John Duran

As in past elections, the majority of his donations come from individuals and businesses outside of West Hollywood, with major contributions from developers and the lawyers and lobbyists who represent them. One likely to stir some controversy is from Tyler Siegel, an owner of Townscape Partners, the developer of the controversial 8150 Sunset and 8899 Beverly projects. Duran also accepted donations totaling $2,000 from Athen Services and its executive vice president, Gary Clifford, and members of his family. (Each individual donation is limited to $500). Athens is the city’s trash collector. In 2014 Duran voted with other members of the City Council to extend its contract — worth an estimated $150 million to Athens — for 15 years without putting it out to bid. Athens also is a large donor to the Gay Men’s Chorus, however Duran has not filed “behest” statements required by state law revealing such donations to a charity from a company with which he has ties. Duran told WEHOville that that is because the donation was requested by GMCLA staff and not him.

The deadline for filing for the March 7 election is Dec. 12. Duran and Heilman and the only incumbents up for re-election on the five-member council. Other likely candidates are former Councilmember Steve Martin and Larry Block, owner of The Block Party clothing store. Rumored candidates who have no responded to inquiries from WEHOville are Cynthia Blatt, an anti-development activist, and Heidi Shink, an unsuccessful candidate in the 2015 council election.


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JAMES ROSEN
Guest

Vote the Bums out…….

Ida Claire
Guest
Ida Claire

There are strong reasons for rejecting Duran & Heilman above & beyond their obsession with accommodating huge developments for personal power. I think Duran in particular is opportunistically corrupt & Heilman is so entrenched in his delusion of being indispensable to the city that he can’t begin to imagine it without him. They are both inflicted with interminable disease of egomania which cannot be treated without outside intervention. That’s what elections are for

A Concerned Citizen
Guest
A Concerned Citizen

Steve, thanks for that detail. I’m not trying to unilaterally defend them. My response was really about the assertion that they “should be in jail.” That is an extreme viewpoint, and I’m not going to go along with that unless someone shows me evidence of actual criminal activity. Or can at least tell me what criminal activity they think they were involved in.

I certainly do not like the influence developers have had on our City Council. And changes need to be made.

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

Concerned Citizen makes a valid point as good development can provide needed housing and enhance the livability of our community. But we are seeing mega-developments that are destroying the quality of life in our community and turning West Hollywood from a funky and fun place to simply another concrete and steel canyon. But is suggest you look at the money spent in the last campaign. John Duran served as bag man for an independent expenditure campaign, (that has no limits on contributions), to help re-elect John Heilman. When the developer of 8899 Beverly Blvd. came before the Planning Commission, City… Read more »

A Concerned Citizen
Guest
A Concerned Citizen

Tom, that wasn’t a sufficient answer. Until I see actual evidence of criminal activity, I see no reason to agree to the idea of “John Heilman being in jail.” You said “they are in bed with developers which should be illegal.” Is it? If taking campaign contributions from developers constitutes illegal activity to you, then you should be ready to put each council member in jail (along with just about anyone who is going to be newly elected). That said, I’m not thrilled with their relationships with developers. It definitely results in a conflict of interest. But not all development… Read more »

Woody McBreairty
Guest
Woody McBreairty

The energy & enthusiasm over the term limits measure was overwhelming. I don’t think I talked to a single person while volunteering during the “C” campaign who wasn’t all for it. It continues to amaze me that people keep voting for Heilman & Duran since the 2 of them seemed to me to be the two 2 main reasons people wanted term limits. Personally, when circulating the petition on the streets, all I had to do was tell people it was for term limits for the West Hollywood City Council & they all said yes, yes, yes, & signed without… Read more »

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

Again, the power is in the vote, end of story. And as much as people complain, there is way too much apathy. Whether you like them or not, our city is financially solid.

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

The best Council members developers can buy.

Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

You see it as helping to build the city whilst I see it as destroying the city. For decades these clowns did nothing and now our village (and history) is coming down at warp speed. Why? Because they are in bed with developers which should be illegal. The developers are building crap and our council can walk away from it one day and leave the mess for future generations to deal with. I’m sure they are getting other perks in addition to their shady campaign contributions. What’s happening here in WEHO should be investigated by the California Attorney General. There… Read more »

A Concerned Citizen
Guest
A Concerned Citizen

Tom, why, exactly, should John Heilman be jailed? Yes, he’s received campaign donations from developers, as all sitting council members have. Has he immersed the city in scandal? Embarrassed and cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars?

I certainly don’t always agree with his positions, but he did help build this city, and has been a public servant since its inception.

carleton cronin
Guest
carleton cronin

Judging from the tenor of the above comments, and recalling one particular comment on an OP-ED I wrote recently here about the small number of actual voters in Council elections, perhaps the natives are becoming restless and we might have a much better turnout in March. As the war chests build, I am reminded of election days in my youth, always an exciting day, especially for those who received beer chits (to be used the next day as bars were closed for the event) and free food baskets for the needy from the ward boss. Will Heilman and Duran be… Read more »

kab1200
Guest
kab1200

Stop whining, if they are voted in by the people, then so be it. How about you whiners get out there and get people to vote. The turn out is abysmal!

Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

THEY SHOULD BOTH BE JAILED, NOT ELECTED. I’M SORRY I EVER VOTED FOR THEM IN THE DISTANT PAST.