Attorney and community activist Steve Martin loves a good fight, and, this year, he's sticking himself smack in the middle of one — the highly contested race for West Hollywood City Council, which features six challengers and longtime incumbents John Heilman and Abbe Land and appointed council member Lindsey Horvath.

“There's talk about how it's a race to fill Horvath's seat,” Martin tells L.A. Weekly, “but the race should be about taking an accounting of John Heilman's and Abbe Land's past eight years. And I plan to hold them accountable.”

Known as something of a firebrand, Martin doesn't mince words about his problems with the incumbents, who he often describes as “arrogant” and “out of touch.”

“They're certainly not as popular as they were four years ago,” says Martin about Heilman and Land, “and it's my job to give people hope that they can kick out the entrenched power of City Hall.”

Martin was a West Hollywood City Council member between 1994 and 2003, when Abbe Land ended her break from local politics and ran once again for office, beating out Martin.

During his nine years on the City Council, he often clashed with Heilman and pushed for more community input in the decision-making process.

Community activists still have a strong fondness for Martin, who ran for City Council in 2007 and lost.

“The city has a great reputation for being progressive,” says the former council member, “and for most people, that's sufficient. But then they come to City Council meetings and they see it isn't all that progressive, which is a real eye-opener.”

Martin says decisions made at City Hall is dominated more by the vision of one person — John Heilman — than the visions of West Hollywood's 36,000 residents.

“(Heilman) stifles public input,” says Martin, “and he stifles debate on the City Council.”

Martin says he promises to change that, and he wants the voters to put him back on the West Hollywood City Council on Election Day, March 8.

“When people hear the message,” says Martin, “they're ready for change. There's Heilman fatigue out there.”

26-year incumbent John Heilman refuses to speak with the Weekly.

NOTE: During the reporting for the L.A. Weekly cover story “Dethroning West Hollywood's Martinets,” we spent many hours with WeHo's City Council candidates — except for incumbents John Heilman, Abbe Land, and Lindsey Horvath, who refused to be interviewed in person or over the phone.

This week, we are using previously unpublished material for a series of posts on each of the six challengers the Weekly met and talked with. So far, we have written about Scott Schmidt and Mito Aviles.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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