Opinion: Getting Elected in West Hollywood — Money Changes Everything

Christopher McDonald

My name is Christopher McDonald and I am proudly running for West Hollywood City Council. I moved to West Hollywood 20 years ago and I love this city. I am not a politician, but I am a concerned resident… and one of my main concerns is the amount of money being raised and spent to get elected to a seat on the West Hollywood City Council.

As the buildings in West Hollywood have been getting bigger over the years, so has the amount of money being raised and spent for a seat on the City Council. A complaint that I’ve heard over and over again is that our city is becoming overdeveloped – causing more traffic, negatively impacting the environment, and reducing green spaces. And it’s causing us to lose sight of what made West Hollywood so special and unique in the first place. Unfortunately, it seems as though donations from developers and lobbyists appear to be dictating the future of our city. And it’s time for us to take our city back.

In my candidacy statement I declared that I wouldn’t accept any money from any developers or lobbyists. But I am taking that pledge a step further. Because if I truly want to be beholden to no one, but you — the residents of West Hollywood — then I shouldn’t accept any donations from anyone. And I won’t. I know this might sound like a radical idea, but it really shouldn’t be. This year, hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been raised for two seats on the Council. And we need to ask ourselves, what are those dollars really promising? How many donations come from out of state? How many donations come from developers and billboard companies? And why is it necessary for that much money to be raised to get elected anyways?

Recently the maximum amount an individual can donate to a Council candidate’s campaign was raised from $500 to $1,000. I actually would have pushed to lower the amount an individual can donate. I believe that real campaign reform is necessary at the city, state and national level. Last election, I was overwhelmed by the never-ending avalanche of City Council candidate mailers I received, and I remember thinking, “How much money is being spent on printing alone?! And how much waste is being created by these excessive mailers?!” It’s simply not economically or environmentally responsible. I also believe the competition for donations often leads to negative campaigning. I hate the nastiness of politics and the corruption in government — and many times money seems to play a major factor in both those things.

I realize that I am not on an even playing field with many of my competitors when it comes to financial resources. But I actually consider that a positive aspect of my campaign. I’m proud that if I am elected, I will enter the office with only one objective in mind – – and that’s to do what’s best for the residents and small businesses of West Hollywood.

I am excited for this challenge, and I’m ready to get creative during these challenging times that the pandemic has brought us. I want my voice to be YOUR voice – to make sure ALL our concerns and visions for West Hollywood are addressed. If elected, I pledge to have our city’s best interest at heart. I will be a Council member that is bound to no one but you. When I say ‘ready for REAL change’… that’s exactly what I mean. Again, my name is Christopher McDonald and I hope to be your next City Council member. You can find more information about me at www.McDonaldforWeHo.com

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Dave G
Dave G
21 days ago

Christopher McDonald’s the real deal. Like Sj milrod, I also live in the same building as Christopher. I’ve watched him lead our Home Owners Association with the wisdom of his experiences in civic improvement, his intelligent foresight, and his spirit of inclusivity. I know – an HOA isn’t exactly city politics. But looking around at all of my neighbors, and at everyone I know who lives in this city… if I were to make a list of the people who really know it, who I’d most want running it? Christopher’s at the top, easy. I trust him to make crucial… Read more »

Christopher McDonalf
18 days ago
Reply to  Dave G

Thanks Dave! I really appreciate that! 🙂

Jerome Cleary
Jerome Cleary
22 days ago

Welcome! I am glad you want to make a difference in our city.

Christopher McDonalf
18 days ago
Reply to  Jerome Cleary

Thanks Jerome! And I am glad as well that you are wanting to do the same. Best of luck!

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
22 days ago

What a articulate vision for cleaning up West Hollywood politics. We can’t really be a progressive City when we continue to foster a culture of “pay to play” politics in this City. We are a rich city and we could have public financing for candidates who can demonstrate that they are viable and force the incumbents to accept spending limitations. But today we have one incumbent who has $20,000 in “debt” from the last election, meaning that Council member apparently got $20,000 in free services. It was sad when the City Council recently raised the contribution limit from $500 to… Read more »

Christopher McDonalf
18 days ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Thanks for the comment Steve. I agree… raising the contribution limit from $500 to $1000 was extremely disappointing and counterproductive to getting political donations under control in this city. Hopefully this election year we can change that!

Concerned Citizen
Concerned Citizen
23 days ago

The sad truth is, an idealist cannot win an election in West Hollywood. The reality is, the more candidates there are running against the incumbents the better for the incumbents. The vote for change is diluted amongst the many challengers because there is no Primary. If people truly want to unseat the entrenched incumbents, those who have no way of rallying 2,500-3,000 votes might consider rallying behind one or two viable candidates to bring about change. With so many candidates running the winners win with less than 49% of all ballots cast while the challengers split the remaining votes in… Read more »

Michael Grace
Michael Grace
23 days ago

Wow, congratulations and thank the Gods that you’re on board running for WEHO City Council. It was so refreshing to read your honest and very insightful pitch. A major plus is that you have not taken money from developers. Like Townscape or the Mani Bros. Terrific you haven’t aligned yourself with these dreadful greedy opportunists and their slimy lobbyists. Like the “John’s” have — who been on the tape for years — John Heilman and John Duran — and the newbie John “he him” Erickson aka Heilman’s boy toy. These are the locust that have ruined West Hollywood because they… Read more »

Christopher McDonald
18 days ago
Reply to  Michael Grace

Thanks Michael, I truly believe that we need people serving us who do not taken money from developers or special interest groups. Unfortunately that has become all to commonplace in West Hollywood politics.

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
24 days ago

Mr. McDonald joins a limited number of candidates who write with an impressive authenticity that is too often missing in political rhetoric. He is clearly not a politician and that is a refreshing departure from the tired narrative that a candidate for council must have served in the farm leagues known as commissions and boards. I reject that clubby approach played by politicos with eyes on Sacramento, or elsewhere. He’s a concerned resident, and that is his qualification. We need more candidates with that qualification.

Christopher McDonald
18 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Thanks Alan, I think right now our city could use more concerned residents on the city council and less career politicians. I appreciate your comments!

Tom
Tom
24 days ago

It’s great to have a fresh voice and I am glad that you won’t take money from developers (and flood my mailbox with stuff that goes straight into the recycling bin) but I didn’t read anything about your stance on issues or how you plan to address them if elected. I want to know what you are for, not just what you’re against. I also don’t think that it is necessarily a positive to say that you will not accept any donations- if you have the wherewithal to self-finance a race, that’s great. I am not running but if I… Read more »

Sj milrod
Sj milrod
24 days ago

Bravo to a sane and refreshing reminder of what political campaigns in West Hollywood should/could be. New eyes and new blood are desperately needed.

Christopher has served on the board of our HOA. He is practical minded, goal oriented, and encourages people to work together. I trust him more to lead our city than the corrupt city council members and their cronies who he’s competing with. Chris and Sepi Will have my vote. #TimeForAChange

Christopher McDonald
18 days ago
Reply to  Sj milrod

Thanks Susan, I really appreciate the support!

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
24 days ago

more of the same.

carleton cronin
24 days ago

A salute from one creaky old Bostonian to one young “near Bostonian.” Youth is our guide to the future.

Christopher McDonald
18 days ago

Ha! Thanks Carleton. 🙂

Larry Block
Larry Block
24 days ago

Thanks for this nice op-ed. I too am not taking money from developers or unions and financing my campaign w ideas and local resident support. And while all the candidates and incumbents pretend to care about small business you are the only candidate who asked me how is the store surviving. You my friend (well hope to meet you one of these days) are the reason that almost ten years ago I knocked on my neighbors door asking him to write the language for term limits, so community voices can rise, we can have a healthy rotation in our local… Read more »

Jay
Jay
23 days ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Larry and Carleton and Christopher (and Hank)-

Seeing various generations of the best of West Hollywood support each other in this vital forum under Hank’s aegis brings a tear to my eye, truly.

West Hollywood is blessed to count all four of you as her sincerely loving and loyal denizens.

Christopher McDonald
18 days ago
Reply to  Jay

Thanks Jay… so nice and kind of you to say. And I agree! 🙂

Christopher McDonald
18 days ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Appreciate the kind comments Larry. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to the next couple of months. Best of luck!

Eric Jon Schmidt
Eric Jon Schmidt
24 days ago

This guy is a rising star in community representation. He and Sepi Shyne are the only ones I support. If the two John’s are re-elected, there’s no hope for change and improvement of the quality of life for Residents and visitors. West Hollywood is about to flatline, it needs new, energetic, uncorrupted leadership to bring it back to life.

Christopher McDonald
18 days ago

Eric I so appreciate the kind words. Here’s hoping for some changes on the city council this year!

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