West Hollywood City Council members John Heilman, Abbe Land, Lindsey Horvath, and Jeff Prang star in a “Yes on Prop. 27” TV ad, begging voters to maintain the supremely shady practice called “gerrymandering.”
Few, if any, major politicians in California have gone to the airwaves to publicly endorse Proposition 27, most probably fearing what voters would do to them.
But Heilman, who's up for re-election next year and has been in office since 1984, apparently thinks he's safe from voter backlash for supporting a ballot measure that nearly all major newspapers and groups such as California Common Cause, AARP, and the ACLU of Southern California have loudly denounced… and with good reason.
As a recent L.A. Weekly news story points out, politicians, not the citizens, have drawn up their own districts for years, coming up with crazily configured boundaries that ensure a “safe seat” and rigs an election well before voters hit the polls.
California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, former governor Gray Davis, current governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former governor Pete Wilson have all strongly criticized this political practice known as gerrymandering.
Right now, a citizens' commission is set up to draw the boundaries for state legislature districts. Prop. 20 seeks to expand that work to congressional districts. Prop. 27 wants to end the citizens' commission altogether and go back to the old way of doing things.
West Hollywood politicians such as Heilman and Land are now pushing for a system that favors their political buddies, not their constituents.
This may seem like a shocking stance for nearly every West Hollywood elected official to take — after all, if you listen to them, this small city supposedly looks after its residents first and foremost.
But it shouldn't be surprising.
In 2009, Heilman and Land went so far as to stop any discussion of holding a special election to replace a council member who died. Instead, Heilman and Land found Lindsey Horvath and appointed her to the West Hollywood City Council. The voters were left out of the entire process — Horvath and Land are also up for re-election next year.
In April, Heilman said in a Weekly cover story titled “West Follywood” that he was perfectly fine that voters got the shaft.
When asked about giving voters the right to elect their own representative on the West Hollywood City Council, Heilman replied, “I don't think that's progressive. I don't see why it's needed to call a special election, and spend a lot of money.”
Heilman's support of Prop. 27 and opposition to Prop. 20 could come back to haunt him, as well as Land and Horvath, in next year's election.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at email@example.com>.