Sluggish WeHo City Council Race is Gaining Steam

Candidates at a WeHo City Council election forum (Photo by Joseph Daniels,

Campaigning for the WeHo City Council has been sluggish according to some who have followed the oft-contentious elections over the years.

However the campaign is gaining steam as mailboxes in recent days have been flooded with flyers promoting John Heilman, one of two incumbents in the race. Signs backing Heilman also are popping up around the city. Incumbent John Duran also has begun to push signs out. Residents have observed only a few promoting challenger Steve Martin, a number of signs for Michael Cautillo and no signs or flyers to date for the other six challengers in the race.

The once sluggish campaign also has begun to generate verbal and social media slugs (not, so far, any that are physical). That was evident at last night’s city council meeting.

One speaker, who identified himself as Brian Hamilton, stepped up to the podium last night to harshly denounce John Duran and Heilman, the incumbents. Hamilton identified himself as a supporter of challengers Cynthia Blatt and Martin.

“Why are you still here, after your million dollar dalliance, your half million dalliance, your scandalous betrayal of the public trust?” Hamilton said, addressing Duran and referencing the city’s decision to settle for $500,000 a lawsuit filed by Ian Owens, Duran’s former council deputy. In the suit Owens had alleged that he had sex with Duran before he was hired and that Duran made sexual advances afterward, which Duran has denied. ” … In any corporation you would have been tossed out on your tuchus…,” Hamilton said. “But there you sit because you have no scruples.”

Turning to Heilman, Hamilton noted that nine members of the Illoulian family each made a maximum donation of $500 to Heilman’s re-election campaign. Jason Illoulian’s Faring Capital is a real estate developer whose plan to demolish the French Market has generated some controversy. “When I look at you John Heilman, you are the face of corruption and malfeasance to me,” Hamilton said.

Larry Block, owner of the Block Party store and an unsuccessful candidate in the last city council election, also spoke, calling out Mayor Lauren Meister for not having endorsed a candidate. Block reminded her that Councilmember John D’Amico had publicly endorsed the incumbent, a move that led to Allegra Allison, his appointee to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, resigning in protest. D’Amico’s endorsement of Heilman astonished a number of people, given that D’Amico has been seen as an opponent of what some residents refer to as over development and Heilman is seen by his opponents as a supporter of that. Historically the two have not gotten along.

“Lauren you have a grand opportunity to be the king maker of the city council to move us forward and stop the hateful rhetoric by reaching over, shaking John Heilman’s hand and endorsing him,” Block said, a comment that prompted laughter from those in the audience.

“Your voters deserve to know who best moves your agenda forward that we elected you to, and if John Heilman is the best person to work with, you should endorse him,” Block said. “And if he’s not … endorse somebody because hiding is not the best way to be the mayor when it comes to an election and an agenda.”

Meister has not made an official endorsement but is known as a supporter of Blatt, who is the only candidate to whose campaign she has contributed according to the last campaign documents filed.

Block attributed some of the negativity brewing in the campaign to supporters of Meister who she has named to city boards and commissions.

“In the past few weeks since I endorsed Councilmember Heilman, I’ve gotten screamed at — ‘How can you do that?’ ‘You’re a sell out.’ Another commission member sending out emails saying I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. Another commissioner who, when asked ‘can we talk?,’ responded ‘I wanted to take you outside and punch you in the face. Do you know what all of these commissioners have in common? They are Lauren Meister appointees. What ever happened to Michelle Obama: ‘When they go low we go high’?”

Blatt has also had her attackers on social media. Amanda Smash Hyde, a friend and supporter of Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, has posted “Splatt Blatt” on her Facebook page.

Blatt took time to call out a new group of supporters at last night’s council meeting. She announced that she has been endorsed by the Los Angeles Sierra Club, an environmental interest group.

Councilmember Lindsey Horvath has endorsed Heilman and she has donated to both the Duran and Heilman re-election campaigns. The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee is expected to make its endorsement in the next day or so, and the bets are on Duran and Heilman.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story said Lindsey Horvath has not endorsed anyone. However she has endorsed John Heilman. The story has been revised to reflect that.

  1. There goes Larry Block again. Watched the last council meeting where Larry, with his signature bombast, tells the Mayor Meister she could be a “Kingmaker” if she endorsed Heilman. Whaaaaaat? Does WeHo need a King? A King was elected as President and you see how well THAT is working out.

    WeHo started as a Coalition for Economic Survival and is devolving into an oligarchy. Very sad, indeed.

  2. @ Justin, I really appreciate the love man. Who are you.. please stop by and introduce yourself. @Michael, I think that quote is incomplete. I’ve don’t recall ever using the word nimby on the public comment floor. Truth is Im for preservation, but Im also for protecting property owners rights. This is a free market America and one of its pillars is property owners rights. With regards to the context of this article I think that Lauren had a reputation prior to being elected that she ‘doesn’t play well with others’ and now she is the only city council member who is not making any endorsements (ballots are in the mail) and thats a cop out for her thoughts and agenda. A $100 donation to a friend begs the question, why not endorse. One good reason she can give money but not an endorsement is that she would rather serve with Heilman, than either Martin or Blatt. She’s the mayor and she should step up to the plate and not stay out of it so that she will not offend the long list of Heilman haters that support her. She can change the tone by offering her ‘inside the council’ view of Heilman’s work. And.. after 32 years of Heilman serving the community if she cannot endorse him as a colleague it feels like she is hiding and more to this than meets the eye.

  3. You want 18,000,000 reasons to vote out the Johns? That’s what the ‘what-were-they-thinking’ robogarage behind city hall is. It is not paying for itself, it will not pay off the bond issue without going to the general fund. Who approved this? Don’t blame Mayor Meister or Councilmember Horvath. They were not on council when the boondoggle was approved. Several makes and models of cars can’t even park there. It is never full. It cost over $124,000 per space for the 134 spaces gained. It was suppose to have a top floor community service center, that just changed on the plans without benefit of public hearings or notice. Why is John now endorsing John & John? They all love spending money they are confident will come in via all the fees. The majority of city revenue isn’ parking tickets, but bed tax in hotels, visitors pay a hefty daily fee. Big money for the City. Big money. More hotel rooms , more money over a dozen hotels planned for Santa Monica Boulevard. Hope a quake doesn’t put any rooms yellow tagged for a few months. how would the bonds be paid? The ones for the $188,000,000 West Hollywood (Pride) Park. Phase i + Phase II.
    Yet 18% turn out is a big turn out in WeHo muni elections. Precinct 36, south of Whole Foods is always in last place. good thing as it is solid Heilman country.
    Steve Martin has experience. He served on the council at the turn of the century. The commentor above is confused if they think it is the same person. And Cynthia Blatt lead a successful compromise of a condo complex that was replacing a single family space with a 5 story building. but that got changed. trees saved, view saved. everybody wins.
    Is the West Hollywood City election for sale? does fancy mail sway your vote? a month from tonight we will know.

  4. John Heilman is the controller of his own actions, thoughts and vision; beholden to no one but West Hollywood. This is why our city is so admired by the majority of residents and those who are in awe from afar of what our small city can and has accomplished.

    We are second to no other city in our social service programs, human services, rent stabilization, inclusionary-affordable housing and his character is beyond reproach. West Hollywood core values that worked then and now. John has new and creative ways to keep affordable housing for seniors, very-low, low and moderate income households and now, inclusionary income guidelines that meet our goal to increase permanent affordable housing. John has always creatively accomplished through ‘responsible development’ through mixed use and WHCHC that adds affordable and inclusionary housing to our battered Rent Stabilized housing stock.

    Always supportive of reinventing new ways to strengthen the foundation of West Hollywood’s affordable housing. Support agencies such as CES and WHCHC that add to keeping our core value of affordable housing but our Ageing-in-Place program. There’s hard work ahead, but John Heilman is the one to lead as he always has. Under John’s direction, affordable housing is not a thing of the past but a challenge of the future. Each drop will fill the void. Yes, ‘responsible development’ is part of the equation.

    NEVER has John Heilman been controlled by and special interest, developer, bill-board company. His vision is the right vision for West Hollywood. John Heilman and John Duran vigorously fought for those that otherwise would leave behind. The LGBT community, thanks to Heilman fight for cityhood, have found a place of acceptance, refuge and supported by programs that allow the LGBT community to blossom, flourish. Children, Russian immigrants and all are accepted unconditionally. Seniors programs, ADA goal of 100% compliance live in West Hollywood, have access to programs that allow them to continue as accomplished, thriving contributors to West Hollywood.

    John Heilman, no nonsense approach has the common sense to run for re-election. Like me, and many- many others want the unrealistic and systematic dismantling of West Hollywood to stop. Affordable housing, seniors, LGBT community are as fundamental today as they were then.

    John knows some hold onto unrealistic, romantic, and emotional ideas from the past. With his progressive, open and honest approach is a paramount character strengths in John Heilman.

    John Heilman will bring new modern solutions in every area along with his colleague, John Duran. They will fight to keep West Hollywood safe, sound, prosperous and inclusive while they continue to lead us into a progressive future. John Heilman got it then and gets it now. John Duran compliments but offers his own incredible wisdom and insight to West Hollywood, there are the obvious fit in candidates for West Hollywood City Council. Experience, Leadership are comparable and I welcome again. The smoke and mirrors with erroneous fear-based accusations are just that!

    Don’t just talk, look at what they have accomplished, what West Hollywood has acquired from their vision, and what their ideas are to keep West Hollywood inclusive, eclectic, affordable, walkable and progressive with the right leader’s, West Hollywood will continue to thrive.

    The successful work and fight for equality for our LGBT community, women, seniors, families, and our immigrant residents. An undeniable benefit from John Heilman and John Duran who’s vision and humanitarian essence, actions as leaders of West Hollywood.
    I will not pass judgement on anyone including Brian Hamilton. I do not question his alignment and bias to Mayor Meister and Steve Martin. It seems his remarks are simply regurgitation of the same old comment from Mayor Meister, Steve Martin… It is like a broken record each election cycle. To be honest, I too am biased but based on leadership and results.

    Steve, you talk about the John Duran’s and John Heilman alleged ethics. This always is your strategy as you continuously attempt, unsuccessfully, to be part of the council again and again. We, the constituents have not forgot. I ask you, what about your and Cynthia Blatt’s ethics and true intent? Steve, you were cited by the Fair Political Practices Commission. Steve Martin you were named and alluded to by citation for violating state campaign finance laws by siphoning illegal campaign contributions to political campaigns.

    I’m sure you will accept this fact and explain, in this thread, what was ordered of you to resolve this citation? “It is when our elected officials, past, present or current candidates start thinking they know it all that-it is time to replace them.” – Steve Martin

    With all due respect Steve, your quote is hypocritical. If Blatt and Martin are examples of new blood. Well it’s tainted and documented in so many ways.

    West Hollywood constituents should do their homework on the candidates they support. Goggle Cynthia Blatt and HUD scandal and ask yourself why author, Nick Welsh states, “HUD auditor Cynthia Blatt were close personal friends. Blatt was out of her office until later this week and not available for comment, and the coworker to whom she referred calls in her absence did not return calls for comment.”

    Larry Block wrote in 2015, “United Residents for Responsible Development (UNrED) was organized to fight the Kings Road project and its leader, Cynthia Blatt, since has spoken out against other development projects that she sees as too large. NIMBYISM at work on Kings Road! Blatt also has said, that the city does not need more affordable housing, a statement she has stepped back from.” However, Cynthia led a lawsuit against a five story responsible project (826 Kings Road) that ended with the removal of the fifth story and all the affordable housing! Yet, she claims to be an (so-called) advocate for affordable housing. Sounds like Trumpian!

    Councilmember Horvath is currently on three flyers as endorsing John Heilman and so many more prominent Democrat’s, organization, and groups. So I think it clear the Councilmember Horvath has not been silent in her declaration of her public approval or support of John Heilman.

    All the reasons West Hollywood is the best little city and desirable to live, work or play. West Hollywood attracts the masses. For visitors it is a favorite destination to recreate and experience all that our City has to offer From our Library, Parks, historical residential properties, to our unique businesses, hotels, restaurants and so much more. John Heilman and John Duran thank you for your accomplishment, contributions in the arts, recovery, equality, activism and advocacy that is inclusive to all of West Hollywood.

  5. As stated in WeHoville Tuesday, Feb. 7: “Councilmember Lindsey Horvath also has not made an endorsement. However she has donated to both the Duran and Heilman re-election campaigns.”

    Where do the monies for these “donations” originate? Hopefully just from the private pocket of said contributor. More to the point, from whom are Council Members not even up for election receiving donations if then funneled like slush to colleagues running for re-election, in effect evading campaign finance contribution limitation laws — if such funds are originally coming from contributors already maxed out.

    Ty Geltmaker

  6. Listening to people like Mr. Hamilton rail at the incumbents is a reason to vote for them. He is entitled to his opinion, but not to be disrespectful. At least Ms. Blatt talked about her endorsement from the Sierra Club. I like them, though I don’t really think their presence is so important in this very urban City. This article fails to mention the jumbled comments of Steve Martion. First he agreed with the prior speaker Lynn who talked about the City’s Charter–where can we find that? Then he yelled about somebody named John Stuart and finally he complained about the Center for Early Education and the removal of 9 units for their expansion, pitting the education of children against rent control. I just kept thinking this guy is unbelievable, intolerable and mean!

    So speak your mind vote your conscious, but please none of the Martin guy.

  7. I don’t understand the complacency that people have with Duran. I think he has experience, and often agree with his position on issues. However, I have questioned his judgment ever since he hired someone that he previously had a sexual relationship with. Even if Owens wasn’t sexually harassed (he probably wasn’t), Duran put the city in jeopardy by making this unprofessional hiring decision. He has shown no humility regarding this situation, for what many believe to be unprofessional behavior.

    Why aren’t his opponents reminding the public of this? Why aren’t people bringing it up in Council meetings?

    I guess people don’t think it is important.

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