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West Hollywood City Council race under way

Popular incumbents seek reelection

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Marquita Thomas (red jacket) is pictured at her campaign launch party, held at West Hollywood’s The Abbey on Thursday Nov. 30. If elected, she would be the first African-American to serve on the West Hollywood City council.

(UPDATED Nov 30) Three City Council seats are on the line in the West Hollywood General Municipal Election to be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Those elected help direct and determine the fate of the creative city and its iconic progressive values.

The period to pull nominating papers for the election ends on Dec. 7 at 5:00 PM. Anyone interested in running must make an appointment with the City Clerk’s office to collect nomination papers and review requirements. Potential candidates must be aged 18 or older and a WeHo resident registered to vote in the city. The candidate must also collect 20 and 30 signatures from other registered WeHo voters endorsing the nomination.

Several well-known figures in the community have announced their plans to run for election or re-election. Incumbent councilmembers John D’Amico, Lauren Meister and Lindsey Horvath are seeking to retain their seats, with fellow councilmembers John Duran and John Heilman lining up with Horvath, as D’Amico and Meister hold a joint fundraiser.  

The incumbents are being challenged by: James Duke Mason, son of Belinda Carlisle, who serves on the City’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board; Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and former LA Pride Board member Marquita Thomas, a member of WeHo’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board.

Thomas announced her plans to run on Nov. 17. She held her kick off party at The Abbey on November 30, telling her supporters “Our City needs a strong and independent voice on the Council, now more than ever. As your City Councilmember, my priority will be to harness West Hollywood’s caring, compassion, creativity and innovation to address the City’s most pressing issues—homelessness, housing affordability and mental health, for example—and lead us into the next chapter of our shared history. These are my core values and I hope you share them too. If you do, I am asking for your vote on March 5th.”

Political newcomer Timothy Williams, a writer and podcast producer for Haus of Liontruth.

Timothy Williams

If either Thomas or Williams wins, WeHo City Council would have its first African American council member since its founding in 1984.

Also announcing their intention to run are: actor Shawn Davis Mooney, another political novice; Eric John Schmidt, who apparently volunteers for local non-profits and, according to WeHoVille, is a proud aficionado of public nudity and sexual exhibitionism; Jack Cline, a drag queen; and Tom Demille, who has previously run for a council seat.

Councilmembers serve three-year, eight-month terms and are eligible for consideration by the body for the position of Mayor—beginning each April following the City Council’s reorganization.

Among the City Council’s responsibilities is coordination with the Legislative Affairs team and the City’s Sacramento lobbyist to advance West Hollywood’s interests at the national and state levels.

West Hollywood has a record of outspokenness and advocacy in areas concerning social justice and civil rights. The City was first formed as a haven for renters, LGBT people, and seniors—communities whose representation in municipal government is still of central importance.

But WeHo is also known for its expressive, contentious fights over politics. This election season, which has already started in earnest now, should prove interesting with the possibility of old wounds and old alignments re-emerging among the incumbents and newcomers seek to get attention and wedge themselves into front-runner status.

For more information, please call the City of West Hollywood’s City Clerk’s Office at (323) 848-6409. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496. For up-to-date news and events, follow the City of West Hollywood on social media @WeHoCity and sign up for News Updates at www.weho.org/email. – Troy Masters contributed to this story.

James Duke Mason. (Photo courtesy Mason)

Eric Schmidt. (Photo courtesy Facebook)

Tom Demille. (Photo courtesy Facebook)

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West Hollywood

WeHo is working to shut down scam pop-up COVID testing sites

Free walk-up COVID-19 PCR and rapid testing is available at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station front parking lot

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Demand for COVID-19 testing in Los Angeles County has skyrocketed during the past several weeks. Sharply rising COVID-19 case counts and positivity rates coupled with the aftermath of holiday gatherings and travel has led to an unprecedented demand for testing.

Unfortunately, this demand has led to scammers distributing and setting-up fraudulent COVID-19 testing sites, some of which are requiring those seeking tests to pay a fee and/or provide a social security number.

As a reminder, community members should not have any out-of-pocket costs for a COVID-19 test or be providing their social security number. Free testing options are available, and public and private medical insurance companies are required to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment without charging any co-pays.

The City’s Code Compliance Division is working in coordination with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to shut down scam pop-up testing sites. Community members who are concerned about illegitimate testing sites may reach out to the City by calling the Code Enforcement Hotline at (323) 848-6516.

The City of West Hollywood is getting the word out that COVID-19 testing is available for free to anyone in LA County, regardless of health insurance or immigration status.

If you are experiencing symptoms or if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, visit www.covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.

Learn more about COVID-19 tests at www.ph.lacounty.gov/covidtests.

West Hollywood community members should first call a healthcare provider for a COVID-19 test. For people who cannot get a test through a healthcare provider, free testing options include:

  • COVID-19 Testing at Plummer Park – Los Angeles County coordinates a testing site at Plummer Park, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. The testing site is open each week from Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. adjacent to the West Hollywood Community Center at Plummer Park in the South Parking Lot. Tests are administered by Fulgent Genetics. Appointments are required. People interested in getting a test should pre-register for an appointment at la.fulgentgenetics.com. People getting tests should bring ID and confirmation number to the appointment.
  • Pick-Up COVID-19 Testing Kit Program – Los Angeles County Health Services has launched a program to increase and facilitate access to COVID-19 tests. The program allows residents to pick up a PCR test kit and return it at designated locations, which includes the COVID-19 West Hollywood testing site at Plummer Park. Results will be available within 24-48 hours. For details, visit: https://covid19.lacounty.gov/la-county-pick-up-testing-kit-program.
  • COVID-19 Testing at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Front Parking Lot – Free walk-up COVID-19 PCR and rapid testing is available at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station front parking lot, located at 780 N. San Vicente Boulevard, on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Please note, this location is closed on holidays.) The lot has limited parking capacity; metered street parking is available nearby. No appointment is necessary. Testing is available at no cost to anyone four-years-old or older and is available regardless of insurance or citizenship status. Testing is sponsored by The Testing Co. and is hosted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Council.
  • Los Angeles County Testing Sites Across the Region – If you are unable to secure an appointment right away and need a test quickly, there are many testing sites regionally. Visit: https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.
  • Free Shipped At-Home Tests – As part of a new federal program, every home in the nation is eligible to order four free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are free and orders will usually ship in 7 to 12 days. Visit www.covidtests.gov for details and to order tests.
  • At-Home Tests for Purchase at Stores, Pharmacies, and Websites – Before buying a test kit online, check the website that is selling it and find out if the test is authorized on the FDA EUA test webpage. Learn about at-home COVID-19 testing by visit the CDC self-testing webpage or the FDA’s At-Home Tests webpage area.

Additional information, such as links to West Hollywood-area drug store chains offering vaccinations, is available on the City of West Hollywood’s website at www.weho.org/coronavirus in the Vaccines and Testing Information section.

Officials from the LA County Department of Public Health continue to remind community members about the importance of getting vaccinated, getting boosted, getting tested, and masking-up; these remain critical to stop the spread. For details, visit www.VaccinateLACounty.com.

For people without access to a computer or the Internet, or people with disabilities, an LA County call center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to help schedule appointments at (833) 540-0473.

The City of West Hollywood remains in a declared local emergency in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. West Hollywood City Hall is open for in-person transactions by appointment.

Visitors to City Hall and City facilities are required to adhere to vaccine verification requirements. Click here for details.

To make an appointment, visit www.weho.org/appointments.

City Hall services remain accessible by phone at (323) 848-6400 and via the City’s website at www.weho.org. City of West Hollywood coronavirus information is available at www.weho.org/coronavirus.

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood will engage community in MLK Jr. Day of Service

Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 17, 2022, is the 27th anniversary of the Day of Service that celebrates his life & legacy

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

WEST HOLLYWOOD – In January 2022, the City of West Hollywood will continue its tradition of joining hundreds of communities across the country in a National Day of Service to commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday by providing an opportunity for community members to make an impact locally with a donation drive for people who are experiencing homelessness.

The City of West Hollywood, in partnership with West Hollywood Elementary and Friends of West Hollywood Elementary (FOWHE), will be collecting monetary and gift card donations to support new socks, blankets, and sleeping bags for the City’s Homeless Initiative, which partners closely with nonprofit service providers, the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, and Los Angeles County agencies to provide a wide variety of services aimed at reducing homelessness and supporting community members who are experiencing homelessness.

This year’s City of West Hollywood Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service activity reflects the desires of students from West Hollywood Elementary to help those most in-need in the community.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, this year’s City of West Hollywood Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service will take place as a two-week virtual donation drive instead of an in-person Day of Service event.

It will run from Saturday, January 15, 2022 to Monday, January 31, 2022. Donations can be made online at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/homeless or donations of physical gift cards or of personal checks made out to ‘City of West Hollywood’ may be mailed to:

West Hollywood Homeless Initiative/MLK Day of Service

West Hollywood City Hall

8300 Santa Monica Boulevard

West Hollywood, CA 90069

The City is, additionally, encouraging donations to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center, which has posted a “CARE 4 Youth Essentials” wish list on Amazon at lalgbtcenter.org/care4youth.

The City of West Hollywood would have hosted its tenth-annual clothing drive for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center on Highland in January 2022, but due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, this year the City is instead encouraging virtual donations of needed supplies that will be distributed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who are experiencing homelessness.

For more information about the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center, please visit www.lalgbtcenter.org/social-service-and-housing/youth.

The City of West Hollywood encourages community members who seek to make a difference to volunteer in response to the urgent call and unprecedented need for volunteers during these uncertain times.

To find out more about local volunteer opportunities with the City of West Hollywood’s community partners, please visit www.weho.org/volunteer.

For addition information about virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities to address critical needs, please visit California Volunteers at www.californiavolunteers.ca.gov/get-involved/covid-19 or call (888) 567-SERV; visit Volunteer Match at www.volunteermatch.org; or visit LA Works at www.laworks.com or call (323) 224-6510.

The City’s West Hollywood Homeless Initiative seeks to address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative response. For more information about the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative, including ways to help and resources for those in need, please visit www.weho.org/homeless or call (323) 848-6590.

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 17, 2022, is the 27th anniversary of the Day of Service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday was designated as a National Day of Service by Congress in 1994. Each year, the City of West Hollywood participates in this call to action.

For more information about MLK Day of Service activities and recognitions across the nation, please visit www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service please contact Larissa Fooks, the City of West Hollywood’s Community Events Coordinator, at (323) 848-6413 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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West Hollywood

British tourists robbed at gunpoint in WeHo area caught on video

“I’ve never even seen a gun before, let alone have one at my head,” he added. “I honestly thought I was going to lose my life at one point”

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Screenshot via KTLA

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Two young British men who had been visiting a nightclub in the area of 961 N. La Cienega Blvd. were accosted by robbers as they left the club to catch an Uber.

Cellphone video by a witness caught the robbers struggling with one of the victims KTLA reported.

William Saunders, who identified himself as one of the victims in the robbery, said that he and his friend had just left a nightclub and were hailing an Uber ride when they were approached by the robbers.

“Guys with their hoods pulled tight, could hardly see their faces, jumped out at us, grabbed us,” Saunders said. “One of them had a small handgun on him, pointed it to my head, told me to give him my watch, my bag and my phone.”

Saunders said he threw his watch to the floor, pushed the robber and ran into a restaurant, where he learned that there was video of the assailants wrestling with his friend, ripping his bag off him and taking his watch.

Deputies from the West Hollywood substation patrolling the area responded immediately. In a statement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that the victims were accosted by two suspects wearing hoodies and that a firearm was displayed. The suspects were able to get away with what one of the victims described as a bag that contained expensive watches, their passports and an unknown amount of cash, the Sheriff’s Department confirmed.

“We’re visiting from England,” Saunders told KTLA. “Only one night in L.A. and it has ended like this.”

“I’ve never even seen a gun before, let alone have one at my head,” he added. “I honestly thought I was going to lose my life at one point.”

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