“You walked the walk, you talked the talk. You knocked on so many doors, and I never doubted you for a second. Congratulations Councilmember Chelsea Byers,” said Councilmember John Erickson to his new colleague just prior to her swearing-in on Monday evening in West Hollywood. Byers was joined by returning Councilmember John Heilman and Mayor Lauren Meister in being installed for a four-year term. Erickson was equally as complimentary of Heilman, saying “It has always been my honor to one day serve with someone I consider a personal hero and I’m really excited to start this next chapter.”
Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne said she was “ecstatic” that with the addition of Byers and re-election of Mayor Lauren Meister that the council would maintain its female majority, and looking Byer’s way, adding, “And that we have another incredible Queer woman joining me on the dais.”
Byers, Heilman, and Meister were all then sworn in; Byers the newcomer, Heilman the veteran returning after a two-year absence, and Meister for her third and final term. The three were then invited to make opening remarks.
Councilmember Byers thanked the public schoolteachers who she says help shape and grow young minds like hers and help them get to places like that where Byers finds herself now. She thanked her parents, campaign team, and partner, Austin Cyr, saying “I’m more in love and grateful for you every day.”
Councilmember Heilman thanked the voters and acknowledged it was a very close election. “There were a lot of fine people running for office this time,” he said, pledging to represent all residents and businesses whether they supported him or not. He also thanked departed colleagues John D’Amico, who retired after two terms, and Lindsey Horvath, who won a seat on the Board of Supervisors. He noted that West Hollywood’s city council has produced not only Horvath but also the current County Assessor, Jeff Prang, as well as Paul Koretz, who went on to serve in the State Assembly and then as a councilmember in Los Angeles. “I guess it says if you can survive the politics of West Hollywood you can survive anywhere,” he mused.
The Mayor thanked her family, her sister Debbie who was on hand, and her “bestie,” Michael, for “Swearing me in, rather than swearing at me.” She then spoke of her core values. “Those core values – those of the residents – are also my core values. Listening to one another. Respecting one another. Celebrating both our differences and our commonality. Standing up for each other. Caring about each other. Working together to find solutions to make all of our lives not only more livable but more enjoyable.” She added, “These core values inform my decisions in all matters that come before us.” She then listed specific issues-based values, like ensuring public safety, protecting seniors and tenants, promoting diverse businesses, and encouraging innovation and diversity.
The meeting then shifted to the Consent Calendar, where there was a great deal of public comment, much of it focused on support for Consent Item 2U – a resolution reaffirming the city’s support for the Iranian political prisoners being held for protesting the Islamic Republic, and calling for the imposition of sanctions on the current regime. There was also a great deal of protest comment about abuse at the hands of law enforcement and ways to reign in and de-escalate police violence.
Councilmembers reported on public events they’ve attended and also made comments on consent items before turning to other business, including a presentation on planning for WeHo Pride 2023. We’ll certainly pick up later on more of the planning for the 2023 event.
The meeting also included Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne elevated to the role of Mayor, with Councilmember John Erickson being elected Mayor Pro Tem.