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West Hollywood 2011 City Council Election: John D'Amico Sworn In, Says WeHo Starts 'New Spring'

John D'Amico, the challenging candidate who placed first in the hotly contested West Hollywood City Council election two weeks ago and ousted incumbent Lindsey Horvath, was sworn into office on Monday night at West Hollywood Park Auditorium.

During his first remarks as a new council member, D'Amico, who pulled off something of an underdog victory in a city where voters almost never throw out incumbents, declared, "Ours is a city ready for this new spring, full of the greatest men and greatest women."

D'Amico was sworn in with longtime incumbents John Heilman and Abbe Land, both of whom won re-election on March 8 but placed behind D'Amico in the final polling results.

After D'Amico took a seat with his new colleagues, a number of Horvath supporters spoke during public comment period and honored their fallen candidate. The dethroned Horvath stood nearby and listened intently.

"We love her," said West Hollywood Women's Advisory Board member Betsy Johnson. "She's done a fabulous job."

D'Amico supporters also chimed in.

"I'm thrilled out of my brain that John D'Amico is sitting up there with you guys," said community activist Allegra Allison.

At his first official meeting as a City Council member, D'Amico sat between longtime incumbents Jeff Prang and John Heilman. With his re-election, Heilman will probably serve at least 30 consecutive years as a City Council member -- there are no term limits in West Hollywood.

That fact has become a source of controversy in West Hollywood, where many residents believe Heilman has gained too much power and influence over the day-to-day operations of the city.

After public comment period, D'Amico, who was featured in the 2010 L.A. Weekly cover story "West Follywood: How a progressive town founded on renters' rights and diversity ended up gridlocked, angry and elitist," spoke to the audience. As soon as he started his remarks, Horvath quickly exited the auditorium.

D'Amico quoted a Walt Whitman poem, thanked his fellow challengers Steve Martin, Scott Schmidt, Mito Aviles, and Lucas John, and turned to Heilman and Land, saying: "I know this didn't turn out the way you expected. But I'm here. We're all here. Here we are. There's a new future ahead of us."

D'Amico also made it appear as if a three-man voting block of him and council members John Duran and Jeff Prang is ready to shift the balance of power in West Hollywood away from longtime incumbent Heilman.

"I look forward to working with Jeff and John (Duran) and the city manager and the city attorney," said D'Amico, not mentioning Land or Heilman, "and I hope we can work together to advance our city to the new path we're destined for."

Heilman later welcomed D'Amico to the City Council and said, "We all have to work together, and we have work to do."

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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