Incumbents Win Three West Hollywood City Council Seats

From left to right, Councilmembers John D’Amico, Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister, who won re-election on Tuesday, with fellow Councilmembers John Heilman and John Duran. (Photo by Jon Viscott, courtesy of the City of West Hollwyood).

The three incumbents running for re-election to the West Hollywood City Council led their eight challengers in a final account of vote-by-mail ballots received as of today and of those cast at polling places today. 

Other ballots must be reviewed by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder, which could result in a minor change in the totals.  They include provisional ballots, which are ballots completed by people at the wrong polling place. If the review determines that the voter is an authorized West Hollywood voter, such ballots are counted. There also may be more vote-by-mail ballots coming. Those ballots can be accepted as late as Friday so long as they are postmarked no later than yesterday.  The Registrar-Recorder will issue a final tally on March 22.

As of tonight, with all nine local precincts reporting, incumbent Lindsey Horvath led with 2,917 votes, or 24.38% of the total.  She was followed by incumbent Lauren Meister, with 2,708 votes, or 22.63% of the total.  Incumbent John D’Amico got 1,840 votes, or 15.38% of the total.

Close behind D’Amico was Sepi Shyne, a lawyer who identifies as a lesbian and an Iranian immigrant who was making her first run for a City Council seat.  Shyne got 1,582 votes, 13.22% of the total.  Shyne was appointed by Councilmember John Heilman in July to the city’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. Shyne, who practices business and trademark law, is former co-president of the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles. She has been involved with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Human Rights Campaign.

Voters also overwhelmingly supported Measure B, a ballot measure that endorsed the City Council’s decision to make changes to the General Plan and zoning code to permit construction of the Arts Club on the property currently occupied by the Hustler adult store on Sunset Boulevard at Hilldale.  Construction of the Arts Club has been opposed by Unite Here Local 11, the restaurant and hotel workers union.  Sixty-one percent of voters (2,667) supported the Arts Club while 1,704 (38.98% voted against it).

Voters also overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal to levy a 7.5% tax on the sale of recreational cannabis in West Hollywood.  That proposal, Measure Y, got 3,361 votes (76.2% of the total).

Other challengers for the three City Council seats and their votes are as follows:

James Duke Mason.  Mason is a publicist and  a member of the city’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. He also is a former member of the board of West Hollywood Community Housing Corp. and waged an unsuccessful campaign for a City Council seat in 2015.  Mason was endorsed by City Council members John Duran and John Heilman. He received 963 votes, 8.05% of the total.

Marquita Thomas. Thomas, who is the executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, also is a member of the city’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. She is a former board member of Christopher Street West, the non-profit organization that stages the annual LA Pride parade and festival in West Hollywood.  She received 766 votes, or 6.4% of the total.

Brendan Hood. Hood is associate director of business analytics at AT&T.  Since moving to West Hollywood nine years ago Hood has been active as a member of West Hollywood Dodgeball and Varsity Gay League and as a frequent volunteer for local progressive candidates. As a young man in high school and college, Hood interned in the district office of Congressman William Delahunt (D-MA) and on the first campaign of former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA).  Hood received 351 votes, or 2.93% of votes counted as of tonight.

Tom Demille. Demille is a former actor who has had four previous and unsuccessful runs for the City Council. He received 281 votes, 2.35% of the total.

Shawn Davis Mooney. Mooney is a former soldier and has worked as a model and actor and manager of two retirement communities.  He received 235 votes, 1.96% of the total.

Jack Cline. Cline is a registered nurse and nurse practitioner at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. Cline also is a drag queen who goes by the name Jackie O.M.G. (O My Goodness). Cline is a representative for the California Nurses Association. He lives with another gay city Council candidate, Eric Jon Schmidt.  Cline received 187 votes, 1.56% of the total.

— Eric Jon Schmidt. Schmidt, who lives with Cline, describes himself as a retired fitness trainer in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Schmidt also is porn performer on DudesNude, a site that provides videos of gay men in the nude and having sex.  He received 136 votes, or 1.14% of the total.

Measure B was the focus of much of the campaigning in this election.  Representatives of Unite Here Local 11, the restaurant and hotel workers union, hired petitioners to gather the required signatures of 10% of the city’s voters to put on the measure on the ballot in the hope that it could attract enough “no” votes to rescind the City Council’s decision to approve construction of the Arts Club.  “Citizens for a Better West Hollywood,” the political action committee established by Unite Here, also paid for campaign mailers to convince residents to oppose the Arts Club project. In its campaign, it asked voters not to support incumbent John D’Amico and instead to vote for Sepi Shyne.  D’Amico and fellow incumbent candidates Lauren Meister and Lindsey Horvath and Mayor John Duran supported the project. Councilmember John Heilman voted against it.

Even more money has been raised by “Yes on Measure B, Residents to Preserve the Sunset Strip.”  That PAC was formed by VE Equities, a New York City real estate developer that is partnering with  U.K.-based London & Regional Properties to build the Arts Club building. VE Equities has contributed $650,000 to the campaign for the Arts Club as of Feb. 21. 

  1. These election turnouts are shameful. West Hollywood, tiny as it is at just under 2 square miles, needs to divide into five electoral districts so that candidates would campaign with an ear to serious neighborhood issues where they actually live, instead of the anodyne, generic blah-blah that anesthetizes the majority of would-be voters who don’t see any point in going to the polls.

  2. So close, Sepi, so close. Really wanted to see John D’Amico go down. He’s changed for the worse since he won his first election eight years ago. Thankfully he can’t run again!

    1. Measure C passed in 2013. Mayor D’Amico was in office already, first elected in 2011. I personally like Mayor D’Amico, and think he has done a good job on the Council. His decline in votes this week was largely due to a misinformation campaign that said “he’s against affordable housing.”

      “Future West Hollywood City Council members will now be limited to three four-year terms in office after voters approved Measure C Tuesday night… The approved measure will not immediately affect council members currently in office. They will now be allowed to serve three additional four-year terms.”

      Unless I am mistaken, Mayor D’Amico could run for one more term, if he wants to. The term he was serving when Measure C passed did not count. The term he was just elected to would be counted as his second term, of a possible three. This also means that, at a minimum, no sitting Council member will be required to term out, or give up his or her seat until 2024, or thereabouts.

  3. The bottom line is John Duran is the elephant in the room and must resign from the city council ASAP.

    Otherwise the WEHO muckrakers for the next two years are going to relish in making life miserable for the weak elected officials on the City Council that won’t demand Duran must go.

  4. Congratulations to all.

    Next time the debates – and CC hearings are offered live for our pleasure, please try for more professional audio. Even w/headsets, I can’t hear.
    Only Mr Schmidt’s recordings of his own statements are audible.

  5. Congratulations to Lindsey, Lauren, & John on their re-election. I look forward to the benefits of your experience to our wonderful city & you all enjoy my enthusiastic support.

    I’d also like to congratulate the other candidates on their great campaigns and success in spite of not winning the election:

    Sepi: Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with you or even learn about your vision for the future of our city. Still, I congratulate you on your amazing results.

    James: You ran a great campaign which indicates your tremendous potential in the political realm. I encourage you to continue to pursue your ambition.

    Marquita: You also ran a great campaign, especially considering your relatively late start. I sincerely hope you run again.

    To the other candidates: I honestly do not have enough information to comment on your campaigns or views. I still respect all of you for putting yourself out there and hope to learn more about your views should you choose to run for office in the future.

  6. These results once again show that exceptionally loud minority of citizens who do nothing but object to any project which increases the availability of any type of real estate in our city, and complain about the actions of city hall (especially the elected officials there in) are very much a minority. This is even more true given the much greater voter turnout of the aforementioned minority.

    Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe those of you who fall within that category deserve their seats at the table, but I truly feel as though the level of vitriol prevalent in commentary used to express these views is exceptionally destructive to our community. Furthermore, I don’t blame this phenomenon on anyone in particular. Instead, I blame many factors for this including: the fact that sites like this one serve as an echo chamber for the vocal minority; the general indifference of millennials along with their absence from the dialogue in general; the fact that those happy with the status quo are far less motivated to contribute to the conversation; the almost complete lack of editorial & opinion pieces published not only this site, but other local news sources; and most importantly the extreme bias expressed by editor / publisher of the predecessor to this site which i blame for the extremely hostile environment at city hall which may have culminated in the “deputygate” controversy but still persists at some level to this day.

    My advice:
    1) Publications like this one should seek the official input those who disagree with the views expressed by the “echo chamber”, especially millennials, through editorial and opinion pieces. 2019 Candidate James Duke Mason is the most obvious choice, although I’d also like to see others such as: someone who works in nightlife, a resident who is an activist for & can articulately express the potential advantages of development in our city, an individual with a grasp of the sciences / future technologies & their potential benefits to our city; as well as a progressive representative one or minority communities (such as a younger individual of either a racial / ethnic minority & / or who lives with a disability).

    2) Everyone should take a more measured and less emotional to the content of published works and comments.

    3) Local publications should make a better effort to express both sides of even the most unorthodox actions of our city. For example, the decision of Duran to give Stormy Daniels the key to the city: This may be something that could only happen in WeHo. It also makes little sense at face value and looks like a sad publicity stunt to many. Even so, I can argue in its favor. This act only serves to keep our city in minds the many tourists (and nightlife patrons) who come here for our liberal, wild, and often debaucherous, (not to mention LGBT friendly) lifestyle. If this is our goal, this event only reinforces this reputation.

    3) We should focus far more on those wh

    1. WEHOville welcomes op-ed submissions from all readers. Our mission is to be the community forum for West Hollywood, providing the facts and also providing a platform for people on all sides of an issue to express themselves.

  7. Congratulations to those who won. Jack and I knew we wouldn’t win, but it was fun. Plus, as a result I have added 300,000 new followers on dudesnude making the total very close to 3 million. Jack and I have four trips, planned this year so we are glad that we don’t have to cancel any of those. I will be running again in 2020 and have updated my website to reflect that. I will file my intent to run tomorrow and begin Campaigning right away. I will be at every City Council meeting that I can and still work with the homeless and travelgate.

    1. Bravo, Mr. Schmidt! You just admitted what was long known and commented on here and elsewhere, that your campaign was merely a marketing ploy to garner attention for your quaint amateur porn career. You made a mockery of the system and proved yourself a total fraud in the process. Shame on you, assuming you have the capacity for shame.

    2. Only 136 voters bought into your credibility. Making wild claims without any verification whatsoever for 300,000 new followers and a total close to 3 million is well…….just wildly irresponsible and laughable. Your partner publicly expressed that he thought you should tone it down. Now those figures might be believable if they were followers of the “Legend In One’s Own Mind Society” but any number of fake followers can be bought multiple ways on the internet.

      Oftentimes oversharing is not productive in the grand scheme of things. There must be a name for this pathology but meanwhile enjoy your glory near and far.

      1. It is important to distinguish between followers and number of views, and even within number of views, it is important to distinguish unique views. Numbers can be twisted and in this case Mr. Schmidt is reported his alleged views, not his followers. There is a clear distinction. One person looking at his profile 100 times counts as only one follower.

    3. Eric also said, in comments on the following article, on April 5th of last year: “Thanks to Henry I now have almost 7000 West Hollywood Residents who are registered voters who pledged to vote for me by absentee ballot.”

      Unless I am mistaken, it takes a mere 20 signatures to get on the campaign ballot, which is ridiculous. 136 votes, and he is claiming to run again, already. If he was serious about running in 2019, he would have shown up to more than one of three candidate forums, and actually answered the questions posed in this publication, regarding candidate positions. He has made a mockery of our election process.

      His comments today, and before, prove that he is nothing more than an opportunist. All he seeks is attention, and more hits to his DudesNude profile. I find it laughable that he would come in dead last, after claiming “7000 voter pledges” (more than total voter turnout in the entire election).

      Please, Hank, do not allow him any additional opinion pieces in your publication. This man isn’t serious about running for office, and he’s wasting our time, and abusing our election process. He has some good ideas, and seems well-intentioned with some of them (tackling homelessness), but his immediate need to brag about the 300K new followers to his DudesNude profile says everything. Why would that be relevant (if, even true), if he was a serious candidate?

      1. I will bet none of you who don’t like me have ever read my website. At least have some information before you come at me like angry towns people with torches. My profile addresses all of the problems in Weho and solutions. dudesnude is a very small part of who I am. I don’t even answer the 200 e mails a day, someone else does it for me. It just so happened the viewership increased when the info went international on Gay news outlets. It was not my intention.

        1. Eric, I have read your web site, and agree with a lot of your positions. My problem with you is bragging about hits to your DudesNude page. Lying about your video profile, which was linked to from your DN page, even though you say someone stole your laptop and created it. Not significant to the election, but the lying, is. Flip-flopping on so many issues. Not participating in public discussion, such as candidate forums (only 1 out of 3) and not answering serious questions posed by this publication, which the public wants to know the answers to. Claiming you had 7K votes, a year ago, which was a complete lie.

          Can you not see how all of these things affect your credibility as someone who is serious about running for office?

          Further, sending an e-mail to the city, labeling an employee there a “whore?” That might be in your nomenclature, but it is not something most of us use, in a professional environment.

          Now, you are recently attaching yourself to Duran, with a comment, as follows:

          “Hang in there John. Don’t resign. Don’t let the people who are not getting sex think that the rest of us are bad people. They are just angry haters.”

          You really believe that Duran is under scrutiny because “he gets sex” and other’s don’t? People are upset about his lack of professional behavior, not how much sex he is getting, and most people just don’t want to hear about it, about any Council member, or candidate. Not because we are prudes … because it is not RELEVANT. And it doesn’t excuse his unprofessional behavior. Even if there wasn’t sexual harassment. His response to the allegations has been embarrassing, and despicable.

          Your advocation of Duran’s behavior, along with your labeling of a city employee as a “whore” shows what type of a member of the Council you would be. One that would not only embarrass us all, but get us into legal trouble, once again. And your lies show that you wouldn’t be someone we could trust.

          I don’t care, one bit, what you do in your personal life. But you have brought this up … your hits to your DudesNude page. Your advocation of Duran. Your language towards city employees.

          I’m just glad, and not surprised, at all, that you came in dead last in this election.

          Please stop abusing our election process for your own personal gain and attention. And why don’t you be honest that this is what it has been all about?

  8. It appears there were about 4500 total voters. Measure B had 4371 yes and no votes combined and Measure Y had 4411 yes and no votes combined. Each voter had a chance to select up to 3 candidates and there were 11996 votes total cast.

    The election showed us many things.. for one, the nude dudes did not not come out to the polls. EricJon who touted 7000 nude dude votes picked up the caboose with just over 100 votes. His partner drag queen Jackie O who participated in only the last debate was barely a fly on the wall throughout the election but enchanted many of us with her style and compassion and beat the outspoken boyfriend. Shawn Mooney who showed many of us at the ice cream social that he has a good heart and good head rounded out the bottom 3. Then there was 5-time candidate Tom DeMille who came within 80 votes of Chamber endorsed candidate Brendan Hood. Brendan proposals of lowering affordable housing thresholds and upzoning the city were rebuked by the voters. This was the worst showing of any Chamber endorsed candidate in the history of the Chamber. Marquita, another Chamber endorsed candidate hollowed out the middle of the pack followed by Duke Mason. Duke was the first candidate to declare and ran a two year campaign and had more money than Lauren or Sepi and endorsements by John Heilman and others..Despite money and endorsements latecomer Sepi store the crown of the 3 LGAB candidates.

    Lindsey took the prize with the most money, the most mailers and the most votes.
    She won the respect of many of us and had the longest list of endorsements. But then Lauren was right behind – ideologically different but carried the vote because the voters respected her work ethic, no nonsense approach and a balance on the council that is needed. John D’Amico went from two previous first place finishes to third with the union having spent over $100,000 to knock him down and they almost did. Sepi was closer to John in votes than John was to Lauren. The females garnered 7983 votes, just short of 8000 ..(as of this time) and the males garnered 3993 votes just short of 4000 (at this time)

    All in all I’m glad its over. Time to get back to city work. Thanks to all the challengers who put their hearts on the line. There would be no election without you.. In the end John Duran was the main discussion of this election and we really didn’t get a chance to debate the issues. Lets hope that 2020 is about the issues.

    1. “Lets hope that 2020 is about the issues”. Issues like misogyny perhaps? I walked by a shop that had “Men Just Taste Better” t-shirts. Besides the crassness, what’s that doing to dispel the stereotype of the woman-hating gay man?

  9. About a 45% turnout of the city’s estimated 26,000 registered voters. Ho hum. Just another dumb election? A shameful turnout in the Creative City.

    1. Correction, one can’t determine the percentage of registered voters who cast ballots by the number of votes counted since each ballot can vote for up to three candidates. The actually number ballots cast is probably around 4500, which means a voter turnout of somewhere around 18%. I agree that 45% is shameful, now I’m searching for a word to ascribe to an 18% voter turnout. The bar for election is now at approximately 7% of registered voters (1840/26000).

      1. Yes, 4929 ballots were cast 4 years ago, or 20% of registered voters. I’m sure they will publish the number of ballots cast for this election, at some point, but it will probably be around the same percentage.

        18%-20% is indeed shameful, but I believe many younger voters are simply complacent, ignorant, or completely unaware, for a variety of reasons. These include the idea that they don’t intend on living in this community long-term. They can’t afford to own property. They haven’t lived in rent-controlled housing for 15+ years. They aren’t invested in larger community issues, and don’t even think about them. I spoke to many millennials during this election cycle, and they had no idea who was running, or even when the election was. And had no intention on voting.

        Vote turnout in this city is pathetic, and I hope it changes someday. Perhaps moving our next election cycle to November, 2020 will indeed make a difference.

    2. It will be days before we know the actual count. Mail ballots postmarked by yesterday will be counted. So it will be higher. The last mayoral/council race in LA IIRC got something under a 15% turnout. 50% would be very high for an early March election with nothing else on the ballot.

  10. I know this is how the Co & City Clerk report this, but the %s for candidates are misleading. The % should be from # of voters since up to three votes could be cast for council members. The making it by dividing the votes of the candidates way lessens the sense of their total support. We don’t have total # of votes cast yet, but can guess some from the propositions (which though do have a fall off usually with some not voting). The rough tally would be that Horvath got about 65%, Meister 62%, D’Amico around 45%. So the two women strong majority support, D’Amico much less though still won. Four years ago, D’Amico had the most, Meister just ahead of Horvath, who just edged out Heilman, though IIRC no one got close to 65%.

  11. It’s a big win for West Hollywood’s political boss John Heilman. The oldest and longest serving councilman, he’s still in the game with these election results.

    Heilman’s pay for play” operation, insuring greedy lobbyists and developers a “yes” vote for all their projects, is guaranteed with the re-election of Lindsey Horvath and John D’Amico’s. They took thousands of dollars in campaign donations from developers.

    Plus, Heilman has his old buddy, the disgraced ex-Mayor John Duran, to rubber stamp anything and guarantee more hotels, condos and apartments.

    Only there’s been so much national and international media attention on West Hollywood, from Duran’s seedy #antimetoo saga to Ed Buck’s horrifying racially charged mess, the FBI or Department of Justice could start poking their noses around West Hollywood City Hall.
    You know – pay for play, campaign financing issues, kick-backs, bribes etc.

    For openers, Horvath and D’Amico took campaign donations from a develop who’s facing federal charges for bribing officials. Then there’s Duran and his conflicts of interest as a public official with the gay men’s choir taking donations from groups dealing with the City.

    All of this, the “elephants” in the room, won’t go away. Many angry voters wanted change. A new campaign could be started, to finally rid the city of Duran and stop developers from buying an election.

    1. Many statements here are not factual.
      John Heilman was the only council member to vote NO on the Arts Club project, please read his comments which illustrate potential future problems.
      John Heilman’s pragmatic comments about the John Duran issues at Monday evening’s council meeting show otherwise.
      Best to let the process purge the Duran issues and his presence.
      John D’Amico”s support has visibly diminished.
      The next election will likely produce a replacement for Duran’s seat.
      Much work required to eliminate Campaign Contribution issues.

      1. The denial from some that the voters in WeHo are overall satisfied with the actions of the City Council in terms of governance is amusing. Election after election proves it, but the message never seems to get through to some.

      2. D’Amico boldly claimed when he first ran during the “term limit” frenzy that he would only serve two-terms. How refreshing! But of course, he reversed out of that pledge once he got a taste of the power, lights, and admiration. I am sure he and Lauren will go kicking-and-screaming once they face the term limits they opportunistically pushed for years ago, or simply ignore the pledge and try to insert a new referendum banning term limits! You heard it here first. More of the same with this cast of “characters”.

    2. Ive been hoping to see this crooked bunch go down for a long time.
      Anyone remember what happened in Bell?
      Hopefully the crooked west hollywood council ends up like them eventually.

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