With the West Hollywood City Council election only 16 days away, efforts to defeat the two incumbents are ramping up, with at least one of them taking a nasty turn.
The most prominent opposition is in the form of an independent expenditure committee named the West Hollywood Money and Politics Committee (WeHoMAP). It is supporting challengers Cynthia Blatt and Steve Martin and opposing incumbents John Duran and John Heilman.
One of WeHoMAP’s organizers is Scott Schmidt, the former campaign manager for Mayor Lauren Meister. While Meister has not endorsed anyone in the March 7 election, she has donated to the Blatt campaign. Blatt is known for her opposition to development in West Hollywood and has praised Meister for also opposing what she sees as overdevelopment in the city. A recently filed contribution form identifies Bill Resnick as major donor to WeHoMAP, with a contribution of $25,000. The only other donor is Schmidt, who gave $100. Resnick is a wealthy homeowner on Westmount Drive who established an independent expenditure committee during the 2015 City Council election through which he donated $40,000 to Meister’s election campaign. Resnick told WEHOville that he felt the fundraising by the two incumbents and the eight challengers was “out of balance.” WEHOville has reported that 82% of all campaign finance donations as of Jan. 21 have gone to Duran and Heilman or independent expenditure committees supporting them. The required form disclosing donors and their donations between Jan. 22 and Feb. 18 must be filed by Thursday.
WeHoMAP has created a mailer that asks “What do developers and lobbyists expect for the $275,000 + they have invested in Councilmen Heilman and Duran?” In small type it notes that the dollar figure is calculated from donations from 2007 into 2017. The mailer states that Blatt and Martin have received a total of only $500 from real estate interests. It notes 10 projects by developers supporting Duran and Heilman, however one of those projects, at 8150 Sunset Blvd., is outside of the West Hollywood city limits and not under the control of the WeHo City Council.
The nasty campaign is @HeilmanTown, a Twitter account. “Destroying #WeHo one building at a time!,” says the Twitter account’s description. “I’m that 33 year #WeHoCouncil who won’t GTFO. Twitter makes me say this is a parody account. Satire. #WestHollywood.”
The “parody account” apparently is a reference to the fact that Twitter had banned @HeilmanTown in the past because of its vicious statements about John Heilman. Its 35 followers include Mayor Meister, candidate Michael Cautillo and Brian Hamilton, a vocal supporter of Blatt who engaged in an angry rant against the incumbents at a recent City Council meeting.
The Twitter site includes an illustration lampooning Heilman and Duran, noting that Heilman has received donations from major developers and referring to the scandal known as Deputygate that revealed that Duran had met his former deputy on Grindr before hiring him. It is not clear who is behind the @HeilmanTown account.