The West Hollywood City Council has three positions open in the Nov. 8 election. Twelve candidates, including three former council members and Mayor Lauren Meister, are vying for the spots. With less than two weeks before the city’s residents choose their leaders, we profiled candidates in the order in which they responded to our inquiry.
Robert Oliver, who has lived in West Hollywood for many years and was raised in Los Angeles, is an experienced community and civic volunteer, staff member and leader. Oliver holds a degree in political science and worked in the L.A. district offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District.
“I am the only first-time candidate with over a decade of handson local government experience, having worked for a U.S. senator, a Los Angeles city council member, the Jewish Federation, Pacific Pride Foundation and the ‘No on Prop 8’ Campaign,” Oliver said. “I also serve on the JQ International Board of Directors and the West Hollywood Public Safety Commission, and I previously served on the West Hollywood Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board and Vector Control Board.”
Oliver said he has dedicated his career to public service and is running for City Council to be of service and make a change for the community. He said he has no intention of using West Hollywood as a political launching pad, and wants the opportunity to bring people together and improve the city’s quality of life. He added that the city “cannot allow a few cynical voices or one resident’s gossip blog to dominate” the public discourse.
“[I] have been a part of the West Hollywood community for nearly two decades,” Oliver said. “Like others, I have seen changes good and bad in recent years. We must build upon our city’s progress and continue West Hollywood’s incredible legacy, but at the same time fix the systemic issues plaguing our community and region, which include transportation, housing affordability, homelessness and public safety.”
He said that he believes electing new leaders is the way forward for West Hollywood.
“There are those who blame emerging leaders who have never held public office for our city’s problems and turn instead to former council members whose cumulative 65 years of decision making got us here for solutions. To make our city safer, reduce crime, combat homelessness, make housing affordable and improve transportation, we must alter course on the failed policies of the past,” Oliver added.
He said that preventing affordable middle-class housing from being built is a key component to housing problems, including high rent prices and homelessness. He said the answer can no longer be, “of course we want more affordable housing, just not here.”
“By working to make the city safer and more affordable, we will ensure the West Hollywood we love remains strong for generations to come,” Oliver said.
He added that he thinks social services are key to solving these problems.
“Our ability to continue to serve residents with robust social services depends on the strength of our local economy, and at a time of global inflation and economic uncertainty, our local businesses are struggling. I believe we can support businesses in ways that do not go back on our city’s commitment to protect workers,” he said.
In making his case for the council, Oliver cited his career as evidence of qualifications.
“I have worked for years to help residents navigate city departments, cut through bureaucracy, and solve neighborhood quality of life issues,” he said. “There are friendly candidates running who have some nice broad ideas, but we need experienced new leaders who can address the many challenges our city faces. I will always roll up my sleeves and do the work to get results,” Oliver said.
Ben Savage is likely known to many West Hollywood residents as the character Cory Matthews, which he portrayed on the sitcom “Boy Meets World” and its subsequent revival “Girl Meets World.” In addition to his television career, though, Savage is also a longtime West Hollywood resident and holds a political science degree from Stanford University.
After nearly two decades as a member of the community, he is looking to help lead the way in making the city safer.
“I have lived in West Hollywood for 18 years and look forward to raising a family in this historic community where diversity and differences are valued and celebrated,” Savage said. “I am a dual union member, and have been running my own business since I was a kid. I am not part of a political machine. I’m a longtime resident who believes West Hollywood deserves leaders who are more concerned with delivering results than serving interest groups.”
Savage said public safety is the most important issue in the city.
“I hear from people worried about crime in their neighborhoods, as well as small business operators worried about the effect of street crime on their businesses. West Hollywood is an extraordinary entertainment and tourist hub, but maintaining that reputation requires a robust public safety presence to keep the community safe and vibrant,” he said.
He also outlined ways he believes the city could improve its public safety efforts.
“First, WeHo needs to support its law enforcement officers, providing them with all the resources they need to keep businesses, tourists and residents safe. Public safety also means increasing funding for community safety partners like Block by Block ambassadors, MET teams, mental health services and clinical case workers,” Savage said.
He also drew the line between public safety and the commercial districts.
“The key to funding a full array of public safety strategies is supporting our business community, and helping them fully recover from the effects of the pandemic. Our businesses provide 75% of the tax revenues that fund our city budget. The more we help our local businesses, the more we can lift up everyone in West Hollywood,” Savage added.
He also said that he believes he can help restore residents’ trust in the City Council.
“I am running to bring real solutions to the city’s most pressing issues and restore faith in city government. West Hollywood is facing serious challenges around public safety, struggling businesses, inflation and the cost of housing. The city deserves new, sensible, honest and strong leaders with a fresh perspective to begin tackling these issues,” he said. “We need leaders focused on solving problems that impact everyday life. I’ll bring pragmatic and compassionate solutions to City Hall and make the city government more responsive to the needs of residents. We need to increase and expand access to all the great opportunities West Hollywood affords by ensuring that every member of the community has the tools they need to succeed.”
Savage summarized his vision of progress for the city.
“I want to see a safe and thriving city that embraces the diversity of identity, faith and experience that make us who we are,” he said.
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