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WeHo term limits, incumbents dominate at polls
By WeHo News staff, West Hollywood, California
The West Hollywood municipal election ended in what can only be described as a split decision with the anti-incumbent ballot Measure C limiting council terms to 12 years winning by a landslide and the council members it targeted doing the same.
Term limits won with 62 percent of the vote – out of 4,343 votes cast on the issue, 2,690 voted yeah on it.
City staff counting ballots at election central in the city council chambers March 5, 2013.
Mayor Jeffrey Prang was the top vote getter for his fourth election in a row with 2,395 votes – nearly the same number of anti-incumbent votes cast for Measure C. The other incumbent running – the one who took the heaviest fire from the Yes on C cohort, perennial challenger Steve Martin and new publication wehoville for his alleged connections to developers, won election to another four years with 2.064 votes.
Steve Martin, running his seventh time (with two victories in the 1990s) came in third with 1,393 votes. His vote total in this election is the smallest he has ever received – his vote totals by year (without absentee voters) were: 2003 – 1822; in 2007 – 1,741; and in 2011 - 2,016.
He posted the following message to his supporters on his Facebook page: “Although we had personally disappointing results, I am proud of my campaign and the wonderful people associated with this collective effort. We passed Measure C, which will be a positive legacy. I want to thank all the folks who gave and gave so generously of their time and money.”
Public Safety commissioner Sam Borelli, making his first run at elected office, came in fourth place in a field of nine with 787 votes, beating Sheriff deputy Christopher Landavazo by seven votes who received 780 by night’s end.
Sam Borelli said, “I am overwhelmed with the love, support and encouragement coming my way. Know that it is felt and I am eternally grateful.” Mr. Landavazo pulled down his Facebook page within hours of the election results being posted and did not reply to requests for comment.
Ballots being delivered to the counting tables.
See the table at this page’s bottom for the unofficial tallies for all candidates. All the vote totals will change next week when the absentee and provisional ballots have been counted, according to West Hollywood City Clerk Corey Schafer.
On measure C’s victory, campaign consultant Scott Schmidt said, “To the thousands who signed our petition, to the dozens who gave time or money, and everyone who voted today, I have this to say: we are the change we have been waiting for. You did what they said was impossible. Together, we can continue to do even more for West Hollywood because you understand that yes, we can do better.”
“West Hollywood is fortunate to have many dedicated public servants who give so much of their time and effort to the City Council,” Schmidt continued. “Measure C preserves their ability to continue serving—for as long as 12 years—but it also gives fresh faces and new voices a seat at the table as well. This was a win for everyone in West Hollywood.”
“West Hollywood voters sent a message tonight,” said Yes on C campaign chair Lauren Meister. “Measure C ensures that West Hollywood has a mechanism in place to bring fresh perspectives and new energy to the Council. It opens the door to broader public participation in the legislative process in our City, which benefits everyone.”
That door may not fully open at the council level for 12 years, but one of the founding members of the movement, retailer Larry Block (owner of Block Party in Boystown), told WeHo News it portends more reforms “of the council to prepare people to take office and have some term limits trickle down. Maybe they should expand the council from five to seven seats to make it more of a citizen council.”
The incumbents’ council race victory party was a raucous affair crowded to overflowing. The victorious incumbents, Jeffrey Prang and John Duran thanked their supporters, lieutenants and foot soldiers with Mr. Duran bringing the speechifying to a close with the new campaign anthem. Recollecting challenger Steve Martin’s impassioned speech of the night before during which he termed Duran supporters dogs, he introduced the song with a flourish – it can be heard by clicking here.
John Duran's "dogs" enthusiastically pose for a photo to commemorate their victory.
After the congratulations and thank yous and in the relative quiet of the sidewalk where they could converse in something shy of a shout in the ear, the incumbents told WeHo News what their victory meant to them.
Mayor Jeffrey Prang said, “I am looking forward to the next four years. It was a hard fought campaign and I was humbled to have won such strong support from throughout the city and pleased to be the top vote-getter in my fourth-straight election.”
On Measure C, he said that passage of the term limits initiative was a moot point, as “There was already going to be significant turnover on the council in the next 12 years,” regardless of its passage. “Clearly,” he said, “there were some mixed messages being sent. John [Duran] and I, who have served a long time, were handily re-elected… It’s unlikely that I’ll serve 12 more years, anyway, so I don’t think it will affect me or my fellows on the council.”
Mr. Prang thought that the electorate showed that a firewall stood between their vote on term limits and their votes for candidates, holding out Steve Martin as an example. “The candidates that supported term limits didn’t do well” and the one most closely associated to the measure, having run seven times and failing, “five times in a row probably indicates that his message isn’t resonating, Who knows, maybe eight times is the charm.”
The incumbents flash a "V for victory sign." Photo by Paul Wagner/Doheny LLC.
Likewise council member John Duran felt relief that the silly season was over. “It’s been a very, very tough campaign. West Hollywood politics is always rough and tumble, but I’m really happy in the end with the results and really happy that, notwithstanding all that has gone on in the last year between the DA investigation (of the city’s credit card policy and his use for meals) and the nasty campaign, the people of West Hollywood still picked the two best candidates. So now we have got to go back to work.”
The ill will from the Heilman camp stems from Mr. D’Amico’s 2010 vow to unseat him and Abbe Land, which led him to run for council and his stunning, top-vote getting victory over them and their slate-mate and chosen mentee, Lindsey Horvath. Mr. Duran said, “Jeff and I have been talking about doing that for some weeks; now that [the election] is behind us, I think we can focus on it.”
Mr. Duran saw no direct effect of Measure C on the current council, saying, “The effect will be on future councils but I don’t see how you can get what you want done in only 12 years.” His plans for the next 12 years include completing efforts he has been at work on for the past 12 years, “the AIDS monument, the south side of Santa Monica [Blvd. In Boystown] and the continued restoration of the Eastside.”
Unofficial results for the March 5, 2013 West Hollywood General Municipal Election
West Hollywood Municipal Election Results UNOFFICIAL
11 of 11 Precincts Reporting