May 16, 2017 at 11:09 pm PST | by Rebekah Sager
Heilman sworn in as WeHo mayor

West Hollywood’s New Mayor, John Heilman is the longest serving out gay elected official in the nation. (Photo by John Viscott)

The City of West Hollywood has sworn in longtime activist and City Councilman John Heilman as mayor.  

Heilman has served on the majority openly gay City Council since West Hollywood was incorporated in 1984. Now in his eighth term, Heilman is one of the longest-serving openly gay elected officials in the U.S. 

Heilman, who served as mayor previously in 1990, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2006, and 2010, outlined his agenda for the future of the city during his swearing in Monday.

Looking ahead to 2050, he indicated a desire to combat poverty (15% of the city’s population, about 5,400 people, live below the poverty level), overhaul the parking in residential areas, build a new fire station, a new sheriff’s station, a new City Hall building, and continue his fight against conservative policies initiated in Washington, D.C., many that impact the LGBTQ community in West Hollywood.

“First and foremost, we must do everything we can to oppose and resist the reactionary policies that are coming out of Washington, D.C.,” Heilman said in a speech after being sworn in, adding, “We must serve as a strong counter example in the city of West Hollywood.”

A native of Cleveland, Heilman is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Southern California’s (USC) Gould School of Law. He earned a master’s in Public Administration and in Real Estate Development from the Price School of Public Policy at USC. He currently teaches law at Southwestern Law School and USC’s school of law.

Heilman has historically helped found the city’s rent stabilization decree and has been acknowledged for his longtime efforts on behalf of people with HIV and AIDS.

“When we started the City of West Hollywood, some people said that a city built on rent control, and populated by gays and lesbians, seniors and immigrants would never survive. These critics said that businesses would not want to locate in our city and eventually we would be bankrupt. We proved these naysayers were wrong,” Heilman was quoted saying on his website.

The position of mayor rotates yearly among the five City Council members. Heilman will serve a one-year term that ends in May 2018.

Councilmember John Duran is Mayor Pro Tem. (Photo by John Viscott)

Also sworn in was John Duran as West Hollywood’s Mayor Pro Tempore. The mayor pro tem fills in for the mayor when he is not available.

Duran is a native of Los Angeles, and a West Hollywood resident since 1990. He has served on the City Council since 2001, and is a national leader on HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ equality issues.

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