West Hollywood election offers wins to progressive and moderates

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Within the famously liberal metropolis of West Hollywood, the Metropolis Council election was, in some ways, a generational battle.

There have been the younger, progressive candidates: newer residents who have been backed by left-leaning labor unions and defund-the-police activists.

After which there was the extra average political previous guard, together with a sitting mayor and two former longtime councilmen endorsed by the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and sheriff’s deputies.

Voters selected each.

Within the heated at-large election, 12 candidates competed for 3 seats. The highest three vote-getters will be part of the five-member council.

Mayor Lauren Meister, a 62-year-old average Democrat who has been on the council since 2015, got here in first by a large margin, with 6,070 votes.

In second place, with 3,960 votes, was Chelsea Byers, a West Hollywood human providers commissioner who moved to town two years in the past. Byers, 33, was endorsed by the labor union Unite Right here Native 11, which represents hospitality employees.

John Heilman, who served 36 years on the Metropolis Council earlier than being voted out in 2020, got here in third with 3,917 votes.

He gained the third and ultimate seat by simply 13 votes, forward of Zekiah Wright, a progressive 36-year-old legal professional additionally endorsed by Unite Right here Native 11.

Heilman, who was on West Hollywood’s first council when it integrated in 1984, is among the longest serving overtly homosexual politicians within the nation.

“I’m actually excited to get again to work for the group,” Heilman, 65, wrote in a textual content message. “It was clearly an in depth election, however now it’s time to return collectively and make West Hollywood the perfect metropolis for everybody.”

Meister — who, like Heilman, shall be in her ultimate stint on the council earlier than time period limits kick in — mentioned she hopes “all of my council colleagues, previous and new, will make an effort to work collectively for the good thing about our residents.”

“Whereas there are variations in ideologies, as Councilmembers, we should do not forget that we signify all the Metropolis’s residents, not simply those that voted for us,” she mentioned in an e mail.

Byers and Heilman will take the seats vacated by John D’Amico, who’s retiring, and Lindsey Horvath, who was simply elected to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors.

For the final two years, the Metropolis Council has moved additional to the left.

This summer season, within the wake of the nationwide defund the police motion, it voted to modestly reduce the variety of deputies within the West Hollywood sheriff’s station whereas hiring 30 further unarmed safety guards from the corporate Block by Block.

And final 12 months, the council unanimously voted to implement what was then the highest minimal wage within the nation — $17.64 an hour — and to require that full-time employees get no less than 96 hours of annual paid sick, trip or private go away, with part-time staff getting a proportional quantity of paid break day.

The choices drew the ire of the Chamber of Commerce and residents involved about crime — and the reward of progressive labor unions and activists who poured into public conferences.

In a single marketing campaign mailer funded by Unite Right here, Meister and former longtime Councilman John Duran, who additionally ran and got here in sixth, have been mentioned to signify “Republican enterprise pursuits.”

Meister voted towards the sheriff’s deputy reductions. Heilman known as these cuts “silly.”

Byers mentioned that, as she was campaigning, residents repeatedly informed her that they have been joyful to see extra Block by Block safety guards out on the streets and that “the truth that they didn’t have a gun was a profit.”

Byers, who’s initially from Arizona, moved to California eight years in the past and to West Hollywood in 2020.

She mentioned her youth — and the truth that she wished to maneuver to town years in the past however was prohibited, like many individuals, by a scarcity of inexpensive housing — give her a beneficial perspective as an elected official in a metropolis the place the median age is 38.

“We have now an ethical accountability to accommodate folks in West Hollywood, a metropolis that embraces such a broad scope of progressive values,” mentioned Byers, director of applications and partnerships on the nonprofit Ladies’s Voices Now.

Housing affordability is a precedence for her, and, she mentioned, a private problem as “a teen whose era has been deeply challenged by our housing disaster.”

Councilman John Erickson known as the election a “win for progressive values on the voter field,” with Byers’ victory and Wright — who would have been the primary Black nonbinary particular person on the council — trailing so intently behind Heilman.

“What that claims to me is voters need change,” mentioned Erickson, who defeated Heilman in 2020 and appointed Byers to the Human Providers Fee the following 12 months.

“Voters wish to look to, and want to, the long run, and the way forward for West Hollywood may be very shiny.”



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