I empathize with those who are a bit dazed and confused by West Hollywood City Councilmember John D’Amico’s endorsements of incumbents John Heilman and John Duran, which seems to have blindsided many voters and observers.
I’m not implying that the council member doesn’t have a right to support and endorse whomever he chooses, but I think his own early and long time supporters have a right to feel at least a little bit betrayed by these endorsements, which suddenly dropped like a water balloon out of nowhere.
I also don’t mean to imply that all council members should not work together as a team. Of course they should. But I think it’s healthier for the process to have five council members with minds of their own, who constructively disagree but are willing to compromise and find common ground to accomplish a common purpose. If we have five council members who are all on the same page all the time, then why have five when only one would do?
As General George Patton said “If everyone says they’re thinking the same thing, then someone isn’t thinking.”
Maybe there should even be at least one who stirs the pot all the time and gets things fired up. I think D’Amico was originally perceived to be the mover and shaker on the city council. Maybe he feels he has accomplished his goals or maybe he has simply given up.
D’Amico says “they” have the ability to handle things that require much more specific attention and “I think John and John can do that!” Hey D’Amico! Are you saying that you don’t have the same ability to handle things that require much more specific attention? If so, why not? You said you could. So why are you now selling yourself short?
I believe most local observers have been aware from the time of John D’Amico’s first run that he and Heilman had many strong differences and their relationship was less than amiable. In fact Mr. D’Amico spoke before the city council in 2010 and delivered a strong rebuke of the performance of Heilman and another of his former colleagues on the council, saying, in part: “….You are two entrenched elites who no longer belong in positions of leadership in West Hollywood. I think both of you should lose your seats in 2011.” There’s much more, but you get my drift. .
I have no doubt that D’Amico was very sincere at the time based on the passion of his delivery and the fact that he felt compelled to make such a harsh reprimand at all. It was always my understanding that D’Amico made a run for the city council based largely on his disapproval of the then-present council’s strong cozy relationship with developers and for other changes he felt he could work to effect.
Remember D’Amico’s first campaign logo with the arrow pointing forward and upward toward a future of change and progress? Oops. That change and progress seems not to have happened, just more of the same. And now it’s more than surprising that D’Amico appears to have taken an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” defeatist attitude without fair warning to his supporters.
Remember that D’Amico soared to the front of the vote tally in both his elections and came in first in his last one, beating out Heilman and removing him from office. That convinces me that the voters prefer D’Amico and his ideas and promises over Heilman’s and that the voters will make change based on new ideas from new people over incumbency and that the voters took D’Amico’s perceived leadership skills seriously.
So what happened? If Mr. D’Amico chooses to promote other council members’ abilities over his own, then he should expect his own base of “followers” to lose faith in his loyalty to them, but not necessarily to switch loyalties based on his endorsements. I find D’Amico’s endorsements vague and open ended. I realize that things evolve, times and situations change, but I find D’Amico’s 180-degree turnaround from his previously long held positions to be a bit baffling. Perhaps he could make the reasons for his endorsements clearer and more convincing.
From what I can glean from his statements, he is talking about Heilman’s and Duran’s fundraising efforts for worthwhile causes such as AIDS charities and the Gay Men’s Chorus and other support of and for the gay community. This is all well and good, but I don’t feel good enough reason alone to endorse them for the city council.
It seems to me that they both could continue to support such worthy causes in their private lives as well. It also seems to me that D’Amico is inadvertently negating his own ability to accomplish these same fundraising results, although I don’t know that he has ever tried.
D’Amico says that Heilman “has the ability to reach out to other elected officials and politicians that is unparalleled.” That may be so because Heiman has chosen and made the effort to do so. Is D’Amico implying that he doesn’t have the equal ability to reach out for input, advice and support from other elected officials and politicians by cultivating his own communication skills like Heilman has?
D’Amico says that Duran is “eloquent in speaking up for people.” Well yeah. That is why politicians run for office and what they are elected and expected to do. Once again, is D’Amico implying that he himself lacks the ability to speak eloquently for his constituents, for the people and causes that he believes in? Is he implying that Heilman and Duran are stronger, more effective council members and are therefore indispensable?
In fact, Heilman and Duran are both on the fast track to being term-limited out, so no politician at any level is indispensable. We have already proven that having new blood on the city council is the way to get things done better and faster. There’s no time like the present for more new fresh leadership.
As far as I know, all city council members are elected by the same means, have equal powers and equal opportunities to engage their leadership skills. Has Councilmember D’Amico already achieved his purposes on the council or has he given them up? Maybe he does not plan to run again in two years ( since he had originally said he would only serve two terms) and feels he wants to leave the city council to the charge of Heilman and Duran, who he feels are more capable than others?
Or maybe he has made a trade off for support from them on a future project. Who knows? I certainly have no inside information on the council members interactions, but the picture as I see it is very blurry, and I’m open to a clearer view.
I know this election isn’t about Councilmember D’Amico, but in his own way, he has made it somewhat so, especially to those who trusted his leadership on their behalf. I think the honorable council member owes more clarity to his endorsements so they can sink in instead of drifting past the heads of his supporters, and reassure us that he is still the same John D’Amico that we worked so hard to elect in 2011.