A new era began in West Hollywood Monday night as the city bid farewell to its two longest serving City Councilmembers and welcomes aboard two new councilmembers.
Councilmembers John Heilman and John Duran said their goodbyes followed by the swearing in of new councilmembers Sepi Shyne and John Erickson.
While the swearing in of new councilmembers has traditionally been a huge celebration in the city, this year’s was subdued. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s ceremony was held on the Zoom teleconferencing app.
This first meeting for the new councilmembers proved to be an endurance test as it was over six hours long, ending at 12:15 a.m.
Ashlei Shyne administered the oath of office to her wife, Sepi, who kissed her after finishing the oath. Shyne told her wife she can now call herself the “first lady of West Hollywood.”
Meanwhile, Erickson was sworn in by his longtime friend Larissa Fooks, with whom he worked closely while he was a City Hall employee.
Shyne pledged to always be accessible to residents and said she looks forward to representing all the people, even those whose vote she did not earn.
“The people have spoken and sent a message that they align with the progressive changes that our campaign promised,” Shyne said.
Meanwhile, Erickson talked of finding a home, a community and friends who changed his life when he came to West Hollywood a decade ago.
“I promise each and every one of you that I will work every single day to make your lives better,” Erickson said, “and if you know a little bit about me, I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”
Both Heilman and Duran said they had no intention of going anyplace and promised to be readily available to Shyne and Erickson when needed.
In his goodbye, Heilman thanked the residents for allowing him to serve the community for 36 years. He also thanked the many City Hall staff members, board and commission members and councilmembers, past and present, who helped shape West Hollywood into the city it has become.
Heilman pledged to continue making his presence felt in the city.
“I am not going anywhere. I am still a resident. I am always available to help and serve this community and to help any of the residents in need,” Heilman said. “I love this city so much. It has been an honor to be a part of it. I will continue to serve it, but just in a different capacity. So, thank you all so much for your kindness, your support and giving me the opportunity to do this for so long.”
Duran thanked the residents for entrusting the council position to him for so long, calling it “one of the greatest chapters of my life.” He, too, thanked the City Hall staffers as well as the board and commission members whose hard work often goes unnoticed.
Duran advised Shyne and Erickson to enjoy the honeymoon period while it lasts and to stick to their values when confronted, while reminding that patience is a virtue.
He also urged them not to forget the city’s long history and the many forces which helped shape the area even before it was a city.
“Govern less and allow the counterculture to go haywire and amiss. That is the unnatural gravitational pull for this place,” said Duran. “Keep the lights low, keep the music high. There can be no revolution without the dance. Good luck. I love you all.”