The Nov. 3 general election is four months away, and on the same day that voters decide who will be President of the United States, West Hollywood voters will also decide who will serve in two positions on the City Council.
Incumbent Mayor Pro Tempore John Heilman and City Councilman John Duran are running for reelection on Nov. 3, and as of today, six challengers have declared their intent to join the race.
The six candidates who have filed paperwork to run for the council seats include Noemi Torres, Sepi Shyne, Larry Block, John Erickson, Marquita Thomas and Marco Colantonio, according to Sheri Lunn, public information officer for the city.
Heilman and Duran have an extensive history with the city. Heilman has served on the Council since West Hollywood’s incorporation in 1984, except for a brief period in 2015 when he lost in a general municipal election but months later won a special election to replace another city council member who had left his position. Heilman, who teaches both at the Southwestern Law School and the University of Southern California Law School, served as the city’s mayor in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2006, 2010 and 2017.
“I think right now the city needs experience and stable leadership,” Heilman said.
Since his earliest days on the City Council, Heilman said one of his top concerns has been affordable housing. He also said the business community is in need in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and he will do all he can to support it.
Duran, a lawyer in private practice since 1987, became a resident of West Hollywood in 1990. Voters elected him as a member of the City Council in 2001.
He started his legal career as an HIV/AIDS attorney in the 1980s and expanded his practice into LGBT rights in the 1990s. Duran was one of the attorneys for the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power during the 1980s representing protesters who were demanding HIV treatment and medications.
During his time on council, Duran has been a strong support of addiction and recovery services, as well as economic development in the city.
“Over the past 20 years, I have served on the council when 9/11 happened in New York City and the Great Recession of 2008,” Duran wrote in an email. “Both times, the city faced difficult financial challenges because of these extraordinary events harming tourism and travel into our city.”
He added during those two challenging periods of time, the council set aside prudent reserves totaling $140 million for a “rainy day,” and that rainy day has appeared with COVID-19.
“I am one of the council members responsible for the financial stability of the city, and I know how to lead the city forward through the challenging months and years ahead,” Duran said.
Torres has served as a member of the city of West Hollywood’s Women’s Advisory Board and is a current member of the Public Facilities Commission. She has an extensive background volunteering with organizations such as Project Angel Food and the Downtown Women’s Center.
“I really want to have a bigger part in serving the community and keeping our neighborhoods safe,” Torres said.
Shyne, a Business License Commissioner and business law attorney, said she is running because West Hollywood needs an independent, respected voice. In 2019, she ran in the general municipal election and nearly unseated Councilman John D’Amico.
Larry Block, chairman of the Public Facilities Commission and owner of the Block Party WeHo retail store located on Santa Monica Boulevard, said he is running for City Council because the city needs reform. As a business owner, Block said he understands the needs of the business community and will support it and help rebuild businesses amid the pandemic.
Erickson is the director of public affairs of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and a current member of the city’s Planning Commission.
“The residents of West Hollywood deserve a leader that not only brings integrity and vision to the job, but wants to unconditionally, and tirelessly, work every day for every resident,” Erickson wrote in an email.
Thomas is a member of the Human Services Commission, and a the executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. She also ran in the 2019 municipal election.
Colantonio, a real estate agent, is a former Disability Advisory Board member and founder of WeHo Times.
The West Hollywood City Clerk’s office has announced the nomination period for candidates interested in running for the West Hollywood City Council will begin at 8 a.m. on July 13, and the period for filing nomination papers ends on Aug. 7. The nomination process requires a potential candidate to gather more than 20 valid signatures by registered voters in the city. Potential candidates must be at least 18 years old and current residents of West Hollywood. All interested candidates can pick up the necessary forms from the City Clerk’s office by appointment only due to COVID-19 and the closure of City Hall.
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