The West Hollywood City Council tonight selected a new mayor and new mayor pro tempore in a process that reflected some of the tensions between council members.
As expected, Councilmember John D’Amico, who has been serving as mayor since John Duran abruptly left that position last month, was nominated to serve a full term as mayor beginning in May and got the vote of all of his fellow council members.
Then Duran nominated Councilmember Lauren Meister to serve as mayor pro tempore, clearly surprising fellow council members who had expected Councilmember Lindsey Horvath to get the unanimous support of the Council for that position.
D’Amico nominated Horvath, who won with her own vote and that of D’Amico and Councilmember John Heilman. Meister voted for herself and got Duran’s vote.
In a city like West Hollywood, with a council/manager form of government, the role of mayor is largely ceremonial with a major duty being managing City Council meetings. The mayor pro tempore fills in when the mayor is absent. But while the role is ceremonial, it can be influential, with many seeing the mayor as the official voice of the city.
John Duran gave up the position of mayor on March 4 in the midst of a scandal involving allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, whose board he then chaired, and inappropriate comments about his fellow Council members. D’Amico stepped into the role because he had been serving as mayor pro tempore.
Duran had endorsed Meister in last month’s City Council election. His decision to vote for her over Horvath tonight may have been in response to the fact that Horvath was the only council member to have said in March that Duran should resign from the City Council because of the allegations of misbehavior and because of his response to them. D’Amico and Meister had said only that they thought Duran should give up his title as mayor.
Meister and Horvath, the only women on the five-member Council, are known for having had a fraught relationship themselves.