As of Wednesday afternoon, it appears West Hollywood will have two new City Council members and that voters approved a 0.75% sales tax increase. Results showed that challengers Sepi Shyne and John Erickson garnered 7,041 and 6,488 votes, respectively, enough to unseat long-serving incumbents John Heilman and John Duran, who earned 5,521 and 2,935 votes, respectively. Final results are scheduled to be certified on Nov. 30, and the two winning candidates will be sworn in on Dec. 7.
Shyne said in an email that she is “incredibly proud of the success of our people-powered campaign.”
“We laid out a broad and progressive vision that protects renters, rejects special interests and reimagines how we invest in our quality of life in West Hollywood,” Shyne said. “I am grateful to everyone who placed their trust in me, and I look forward to earning the trust of those who didn’t vote for me. Together, we will move our city forward and ensure that West Hollywood remains the gem it has always been.”
Erickson thanked his supporters and said he’s “truly honored and cautiously optimistic right now to be in this place.”
“I’m reminded exactly why I ran and that’s to be of service to this community, which I’ve called home for 10 years and love dearly. While we wait for all votes to be counted, things are looking good, and I want to congratulate Sepi on running an amazing race,” he said.
Erickson also thanked Heilman, whom he called “a personal hero of mine,” and West Hollywood voters for “participating in the most important election of our lifetime.”
“I know that the city is getting leadership in whatever way they voted,” Erickson said. “I’m excited to work with the rest of the council and … it feels really good.”
Heilman did not return a request for comment. Duran, who’s served 20 years on the council, noted that he and Heilman, who’s served on the council for 36 years, both look likely to lose their reelection bids.
“I think the voters are saying we want fresh faces and change at City Hall, and I have to respect that as the will of the people,” Duran said.
Duran, who said he will continue to stay involved in the city and work as an LGBT activist, plans to call Shyne and Erickson – or the top vote-getters – once the numbers are finalized.
“I’ll call and congratulate them and wish them well and offer to help however possible,” Duran said. “They’re coming into public service in a very difficult time in the city’s history. We’re in a pandemic and the local economy has collapsed. People are on the verge of eviction and food shortages, and they’re going to have to respond to all of that. It’s going to be a heavy lift. I will be here if needed, but I don’t intend to get in the way or come to council meetings or overly involve myself in the process, but I’m here if they need assistance.”
Challenger Larry Block finished in fourth place with 3,028 votes, ahead of Duran but significantly behind Heilman. Block said he “wasn’t really thrilled” to not win the race, but he thinks “that West Hollywood took a step forward.”
“I want to wish both Sepi and John Erickson a lot of love and luck and offer to help them in any of their needs or concerns about the Boystown area or about anything that I’ve been involved with the city,” Block said.
Noemi Torres came in sixth place with 1,374 votes. She said that she ran to “encourage other women and women of color to step up to the plate” and that the votes for Shyne are “very encouraging.”
“I’m really honored that I was able to be a part of this campaign, and I’m excited that we’re getting new blood on the council,” Torres said. “I look forward to supporting the new council members. I want to thank everyone who supported our campaign.”
Torres was followed by Mark Farhad Yusupov with 1,232 votes, Marco Colantonio with 863 votes, Jerome Cleary with 515 votes, Tom Demille with 471 votes and Christopher McDonald with 446 votes.
“I want to thank everyone who supported my campaign, it made a difference and meant a lot to me,” Yusupov said in an email. “I also urge all who supported me to join me in continuing our efforts to better this great city. My family and I are proud to be citizens of West Hollywood and I look forward to continued endeavors as a member of this diverse community. I wish Sepi Shyne and John Erickson the best as they take WeHo into the next chapter. I will continue my personal commitment to make a difference in our city and will offer my support to the new members of the City Council and the residents of West Hollywood.”
“In an email, Colantonio said he was grateful to be a part of the process.”
“I get choked up everyone someone sends me a note, text or photo showing the chad next to my name inked in. It is the singularly most humbling of experiences in my life … Being involved makes a difference and moves things forward,” he said.
On Twitter, West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath noted that “if trends hold, it looks like we will have two new members of the City Council.”
“I look forward to serving with whomever our electorate has chosen and am grateful for everyone who cares to serve our city,” Horvath said.
West Hollywood’s sales-tax increase, Measure E, has received overwhelming public support so far, winning 73% of the vote, 12,897-4,770.
“Measure E will provide approximately $11 million annually to maintain city of West Hollywood services and recover from public health emergencies, support senior services and health-related services, keep public areas clean and safe, address homelessness, help retain local businesses and jobs, repair potholes and streets, maintain public safety and 911 response, and provide other city services,” the city said in a statement announcing the vote totals as of Nov. 4. “It will exist until ended by voters, and requires public disclosure of spending, independent financial audits, and all funds to be used locally.”
The article was updated at 6:35 p.m. on Nov. 4 to include comments from Mark Farhad Yusupov and Marco Colantonio.
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