West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath apparently thinks that West Hollywood's lively political culture is destined for a major tragedy if she's not elected and can help tone things down.

During a West Hollywood candidate's forum on Wednesday night, Horvath invoked the horrific events of Tucson, Arizona, where a lunatic murdered several people and attempted to kill Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

“I have reached out to so many different interests in this community,” Horvath said during her closing statement at the debate. “People who don't support me, and I understand that because I think that's what a good leader does. We reach out for different perspectives and different opinions. We've seen the effects of what happens when you have polarizing, opposite opinions with the shootings in Arizona. And the type of leadership I wish to bring to our community is one where we bring people together.”

Horvath, who was appointed to the City Council in 2009, is running on a well-financed, politically-connected slate with longtime incumbents Abbe Land and John Heilman.

On Wednesday night, she joined them and six challengers at a candidates' forum sponsored by the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and WeHo PAC. WeHo News has extensive coverage of the debate.

Three challengers aren't pleased that Horvath brought up the Arizona shootings as a way to win votes on Election Day, March 8.

“Obviously, it is an implicit and none-too-subtle attack on the opposition,” former city councilman and challenging candidate Steve Martin writes in an email to L.A. Weekly. “Anyone who opposes the establishment machine is divisive and 'polarizing.' The connection with Arizona is to make the opposition appear to be wackos. Nice ghost writing by Abbe Land.”

Challenging candidate Mito Aviles, who has held protests against Heilman, Land, and Horvath's policies, writes: “It is wildly inappropriate, and uncalled for, for Lindsey Horvath to be comparing West Hollywood politics to that of Arizona's unfortunate episode. Last time I checked, residents holding signs against entrenched politicians and anti-democracy couldn't be farther from an attempted assassination on an elected official.”

Challenging candidate Lucas John writes in an email: “Threats to our democracy came in the form of bullets that sad day in Arizona. The bullets in West Hollywood just come in the form of Lindsey Horvath.”

John and Aviles believe Horvath should have never been appointed to the City Council to fill the seat of a deceased council member. Instead, the challengers have said, council members John Heilman, Abbe Land, Jeff Prang, and John Duran should have called a special, democratic election and allowed voters to chose their own representative.

Challenger Scott Schmidt, who was just recently endorsed by Oscar-winning screenwriter and gay rights activist Dustin Lance Black, adds, “I believe that this campaign should be waged on the issues and the records of the candidates. I'm running my race as if I plan to be around on March 9th and hope others will do the same.”

Horvath responds, telling the Weekly via email: “I did not compare West Hollywood politics to the shooting in Arizona. What I said was that the events in Arizona were a good reminder to all of us in public life to strive to keep political discourse civil and avoid overheated rhetoric. West Hollywood residents can disagree without resorting to polarization and personal attacks.”

The true motive behind the Arizona rampage — whether it was political or not — is still unclear.

Horvath also made parallels between West Hollywood and the Arizona shootings when she spoke at a West Hollywood/Beverly Hills Democratic Club meeting on January 12 — four days after the violence took place.

L.A. Weekly will run an in-depth cover story on the West Hollywood City Council race on Thursday, February 17.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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