The Last of the Debates….Proof positive of the need to elect Heilman.
While I was walking to Monday night's candidate debate for our
special election for a single West Hollywood city council seat this Tuesday June 2, I was not sure
what I was walking into. Having a
citizen host a debate at their home is unprecedented. I arrived before anyone,
so if I felt uncomfortable I could bail.
It was nice. The host, Nir, was excited,
gregarious, and sometimes absolutely funny in how he moderated.
Heidi Shink arrived first, with her parents. She is a current Planning Commissioner and previous Human Services Commissioner. Her campaign has been riddled with investigation allegations, impropriety allegations, lies and egregious mistakes on LGBT issues.
Larry Block, arrived after her. A local businessman, fierce neighborhood advocate and well liked guy. His campaign has been clean. He accepted no developer dollars.
John Heilman was there moments later. John is a former Weho Council member of nearly 30years. He is currently a Professor of law, running to regain a seat on the council. His 30 year history of politics and activism is almost unattainable by most.
Cole Ettmon- Came late left early. Sometimes schedules do not always permit participation. He tried while he was there but nothing of note was said in such a short time.
Nir, the host, gave very specific instructions to the candidates. There was to be no negativity, although comically, it was he himself who provided us with special moments of negativity in his stories in between, and sometimes during candidate responses.
I watched closely for body language and listened intently for tone and knowledge as the candidates answered. Here are a few questions I thought most important.
WOULD YOU CONSIDER A LAW REQUIRING ALL LANDLORDS TO ALLOW PETS?
Block- Answered as a landlord. He loves animals, and has a dog of his own. He does not see how a city could demand that a landlord accept pets. He didn’t support it, but let us know how important he thought pets were.
Shink-Yes. She noted there are more than 10,000 dogs in the city. She supports laws allowing pets as she has 2 of her own. Her answer wasn’t very detailed, but her point came across. Unfortunately, I do not think she is aware that you CANNOT force a landlord to allow pets if they so choose not to.
Heilman- Knowing his answer might not be the popular one, he stated the truth. We cannot force a landlord to allow pets in their buildings. However, he was knowledgeable about laws that we have that do allow you to have a pet even if you live in a no pet building. There are laws allowing seniors, HIV/AIDS patients and disabled. We allow 2 dogs or cats less than 35 pounds with a medical letter stating you need a support animal. . The other candidates did not seem to be aware of the details, although Block seemed to have some knowledge as he was a Disabilities Advisory Board member. .
The Ellis Act is the ability to “go out of the business of being a landlord” and evicting all of your tenants. It’s a law that has been used by landlords, oft to raise rents or to sell to developers. FOR BIG MONEY. How would each candidate deal with it?
Shink- She said she would want to try hard to repeal the Ellis Act, at least in part by making it harder to enforce. She didn’t seem sure of her response. Rightly so, as I am not exactly sure she was getting her point across.
Heilman- Let us know that we have one of the strictest rent stabilization laws of almost anywhere in Ca. He helped draft those laws as such. He went on to tell us that we have lobbyists in Sacramento fighting for the city to try to lessen the impact of the Ellis Act. He knew that we have longer grace periods for evictions of seniors and disabled, there are higher relocation fees for the most vulnerable and explained that Weho has very little control of Sacramento’s enforcement of the law, but that we are trying to lessen its impact. This answer came easy for him, he was extremely knowledgeable about it.
Block- As always showed compassion for anyone “Ellissed” and agreed that it would be great to try to lessen the impact as well.
Heilman made it clear, that he is now and always has been a champion of inclusionary housing. He wants affordable units included in new development, and pointed out that without smart development there could be NO NEW AFFORDABLE/INCLUSSIONARY HOUSING. There is a law that states new development must include or pay a fee towards the development of inclussionary housing. He has fought against naysayers, and has sometimes been the target of attack because of development. Housing the most vulnerable is important to him. He sees the reality and need for development in order to provide these services.
Shink, answered well, although not as precise or as clearly thought out as Heilman. She supports inclusionary housing, but doesn’t seem to want development. This isn’t a dichotomy. Many new candidates say the same. They want to make sure they don’t isolate or anger anyone. She is walking a tightrope no doubt. She was forceful with her answer, but it came across as a tactic. She panders to pro developers and anti developers. This is a red flag for me.
|Candidate John Heilman, answering questions truthfully without pandering.|
|Candidate Larry Block contemplating his answer.|
Block, agreed with Heilman, and said he was for inclusionary housing, and wanted it scattered throughout the city by actually including it in the new buildings. He seemed confident.
WOULD YOU CONSIDER ADDING MORE METH/DRUG PREVENTION/SERVICES TO THE SOCIAL SERVICE BUDGET WITH MORE DOLLARS ALLOTTED?
Block- Yes and is involved in the sober working group (I am adding this). He advocates for more dollars for drug addiction services as well as homeless shelters.
Shink- Yes and noted that when she was a Human Services Commissioner, she wanted more money to be spent. She also revealed she had more than 20 years of sobriety, and understood the need. She has claimed during her campaign to have been part of the creation of sober events like #BOOM! and #SIZZLE, which is untrue It is simply another painted story to make an empty resume appear full.
Heilman- His answer was not an immediate yes. I think all eyes were on him at that moment. He was the only candidate to fully explain that in order to provide dollars to new organizations, they would have to meet West Hollywood’s scope of service. This means they have high standards to reach, as we would be spending tax payer dollars which are not to be gambled with. He would be open to more dollars being spent, but again , as long as we are getting what we pay for.
My vote is going to Heilman. It was clear that he has the most knowledge, deals in reality, and isn’t trying to pander. I do not always agree with everything he says or does, but at this turning point of our city hood, he is needed. 30 years of experience does not translate to entitlement to me. It translates as a person willing to give most of their life to a city that they love. He has accomplished more than any candidate and sitting council member could hope for. He is sometimes distant, but is always there for his city. I admire that. I admire that he campaigns without referring to other candidates negatively and that he is willing to take hits that are thrown his way, and yet still want to be involved. I hope he has your vote as we look ahead at a city that we all love.