Openly GOP Man – Former Blogger Boi from Troi – Running for West Hollywood City Council

From left: D'Amico, Horvath and Schmidt
From left: D'Amico, Horvath and Schmidt
Okay, time out for a little local politics. Via a WeHo Daily link to the Bay Area Reporter, I learned this morning that Scott Schmidt, the one-time blogger “Boi from Troi,” is running for a city council seat here in West Hollywood.

What makes this unusual is that Schmidt is a Republican. And, oh yeah, he’s openly gay, but then so are eight of the 10 candidates running for the three seats up for grabs on the five-person council, according to BAR.

Schmidt quit blogging in 2009. (For non-locals, the “Troi” in “Boi from” refers to the University of Southern California Trojans.) He is a member of the West Hollywood transportation commission and was recently involved in a failed effort to get a future subway line routed so that it ran under West Hollywood.

City council elections, which like all local elections in Los Angeles County are nonpartisan, will be held on March 8. Two long-time council members, John Heilman and Abbey Land are up for reelection, as is newcomer Lindsey Horvath. Heilman, who is currently serving as mayor, a non-elected position that rotates among council members, was elected to the first city council in 1984, the year West Hollywood became a city.

Abbe Land is also a longtime council member who served in the 1980s and 1990s but took time off before returning to the council in 2003. Horvath was appointed to fill the seat of Sal Guarriello, a World War II veteran, upon his death in 2009.

With such long-serving reps — the youthful looking Heilman must have been 12 when he was first elected — there is bound to be some anti-incumbent grumbling. But among the three incumbents, Horvath, the newest member, carries the most baggage.

For one thing, many residents, including this one, were discomfited that a special election was not held to fill Sal’s seat. The official word was that holding an election would be too expensive, and, to be fair, Sal died at the height of the Bush recession. But what item in our budget is more important than whatever it costs to hold elections?

Horvath’s other baggage is her one-time GOP leanings. According to the BAR article, she was once a registered Republican who wrote conservative essays in college — but, hey, a lot of people experiment in college. More damning is the fact she voted for George Bush in 2000, an act of colossal bad judgment.

Here are some political factoids about West Hollywood, most of which I gleaned from the BAR article:

  • Of West Hollywood’s population of 34,675, 24,000 are registered to vote, which means that there are 9,000 people living here who are either under 18 or apathetic. (Hint: There are virtually no children here, so the answer is B, apathetic.)
  • Among registered voters, one-tenth, or about 2,500, are Republicans. This was a surprise — my guess would have about 2,500 fewer.
  • Among voters, 35 percent, or 8,400, are registered independents, which are called “Declined to State” in California.

Schmidt is hoping he can round up the necessary votes from a mix of Republicans and independents. Statistically, at least, it’s possible.

Look, the truth is, I know much more about politics in Washington, D.C., than I do about what’s going on at West Hollywood City Hall, which is a block from my home. But it seems to me that we West Hollywoodlians — West Hollywoodites? — are not a malcontented bunch. The city is well-managed, not perfect, but it has weathered the recent storms fairly well, and its infrastructure has improved incrementally but demonstrably over the 12 years we have lived in the city limits.

I have had my disagreements with the council. As a reformed smoker (I quit smoking the same year Mayor Heilman was first elected) but longtime spouse of a smoker, I despise cigarette smoke. And yet I disagree with the council’s efforts to ban smoking on outdoor patios at bars and restaurants. Why? Arguably most people come to West Hollywood to go to bars on the Sunset Strip, the celebrity joints on La Cienega or in Boystown. Outlawing smoking outside is overkill. It’s bad for business. And, really, if you don’t like smoke, don’t go on the patio — stay in the bar where smoking is already banned.

As noted, I was also not happy about the appointment of Lindsey Horvath. It was an anti-democratic move that lends credence to the charge that some council members have been in power too long.

And that brings us to Scott Schmidt. From the BAR profile:

Asked if a Republican can win in the gay hamlet surrounded by the city of Los Angeles, Schmidt said “certainly.”

“If I didn’t think it was than I wouldn’t be doing it,” he said. “There is no such thing as a Democratic parking lot or a Republican parking lot. It is a parking lot.”

While the council race is nonpartisan, Schmidt’s political affiliation is sure to be an issue in the election. Already, he is tamping down any fears that he will use a council seat to run for higher office and is trying to use it to his advantage.

“Can a Republican win an Assembly race in West Hollywood? I don’t think so,” he said. “With voters that is a selling point. They know I am not going to use this to take out Henry Waxman in Congress because I know better.”

While some are trying to make “the R word” an issue, Schmidt believes voters will look past his membership in the GOP and focus instead on his achievements as a transportation commissioner.

“I believe I have a record of accomplishment people can believe in,” said Schmidt.


[Schmidt] supports the Republican Party’s fiscal stance but has railed against its anti-gay positions. During the fight over Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in California, he quit the Los Angeles County Republican Central Committee due to its supporting the anti-gay initiative.

In 2009 he worked with the Liberty Foundation, Log Cabin’s educational arm, to try to pass a marriage equality measure in New York state.

His council platform centers on improving the city’s finances and public transit system. He also advocates for a citywide Wi-Fi system in counteract poor cell phone reception in West Hollywood.

“This race isn’t going to be won on personality. It will be won on specific issues and getting people to the polls on March 8,” said Schmidt, who is a co-owner in a consulting business.

A renter, he has lived in West Hollywood for nine years. In 2007 he led an unsuccessful effort to see a subway line be routed through the city.

He faults the city’s leadership for not advocating that West Hollywood be included in the mass transit system, especially since residents pay to support it. The closest station is two miles from the city’s border on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.

“The 2008 funding measure West Hollywood supported 83 percent,” said Schmidt, who recently gave up his car. “We are paying for it but we don’t get it. When the council and mayor aren’t there, it doesn’t make a strong case to the county that the people want this.”

One fact that does not work in Schmidt’s favor is that, since its inception in 1984, West Hollywood has quite well fiscally without Republican input. Plus, the sort of liberals who live here, like myself, don’t believe for a minute Republican blather about fiscal discipline. After all, there is no evidence in the record, either in national or California politics, that Republicans actually pursue fiscal conservatism when they get power.

Another is the fact that name recognition, even if it arises from the fetid swamps of national bloggerdom, is not a factor ’round here. For example, in 2007, author Patricia Nell Warren (“The Front Runner”), who was by far the most famous person ever to run for a West Hollywood city council seat, lost.

In Schmidt’s favor, I’d say most locals strongly supported efforts by him and others to route the subway through town. It’s a shame the efforts failed, for practical as well as historic reasons. West Hollywood got its start as a train yard for the famed Los Angeles Red Line trolleys in the late 1800s. I’d wager that most residents wish the trolley still rolled down the center lane on Santa Monica Blvd.

So far, the only candidate who has spent money on outreach — or at least whose outreach has reached our house — is John D’Amico, an architect, city planner and, presumably, a Democrat. D’Amico is a former chair of the West Hollywood Planning Commission, and has chaired the city Planning Commission’s Design Review Board for 15 years, among many other activities.

Finally, what is wrong local media when an interesting candidate for city council in West Hollywood can only get profiled in a newspaper that is published 390 miles away in the Bay Area?

Just asking.

Update: Thanks to BL, and apologies to Councilmember Lindsey Horvath for getting her first name wrong.


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