With the March 5 election fast approaching, candidates for West Hollywood City Council shared their thoughts with Patch on the election and issues affecting the community.
West Hollywood Patch: What personal characteristics and experiences set you apart from the other candidates?
Rusty Wiggs: One of my best characteristics is being a listener. By taking the first step of listening to what people have to say, I am better able to understand an issue and communicate about the issue by reiterating what I have learned from others, then base my actions from what I have learned about the needs and realities of the issue. The action of making a person feel heard goes much further than the issue itself. It gives people pride in their city that they matter and are important. It does not mean people get what they want or that we even agree. It just means that people are acknowledged for their knowledge about an issue.
My experience as an executive director at Cognitive Behavior Associates has given me challenges that set me apart from the other candidates. Running a small business is a constant learning process of accomplishing the next challenge or task. It can be learning about a new service we can offer or adopt based on new research, understanding what information clients or doctors need to recommend the right health care to running the day-to-day activities of an active psychology practice.
Patch: How would those characteristics and experiences define your term on the city council?
Wiggs: The characteristics and experience that I have would define my term on the city council by being myself and working as hard as possible to add my value to the city of West Hollywood. We are a rapidly growing city that has opportunities to implement the infrastructure for our future. Understanding the residents and the changing city we are will help me guide the ideas to a win-win situation for us all.
Developers need guidance just like our residents. Creating a city that wants to be seen to be a leader for the future is what we want to have. We all want to feel part of that process and not left out due to outside interests. We are a growing city and I will address the needs of the residents while addressing the needs and realities that our future faces us as a growing city.
Patch: In your interactions with West Hollywood voters during the campaign, what were the top three issues they were most interested in?
Wiggs: 1. Left hand turns getting out of their neighborhoods. 2. Term Limits needed. 3. Development in their neighborhoods.
Patch: When you look around West Hollywood, which project, development or ordinance approved by previous city councils would you like to see undone, reversed or changed in some way?
Wiggs: The way development is happening on Melrose. First, Melrose is going to change. The idea of how has been left to the city and outside interests. Let’s make Melrose between Doheny and La Cienega a village, not a shopping mall. This is an example of how density is intensifying without the proper infrastructure. Creating density with the proper space and infrastructure creates a place where people want to go. Having one building after another is the mistake that has happened.
We need space that adds to community spaces and urban parks that make people want to be there, not just go for one thing by car and leave by car. We need spaces that add to the community not just take it over for the most square feet possible. Spaces that add to the community do just that, they add to the community. So seeing Melrose with open spaces for outdoor cafes and urban parklets is what I would like to change or reverse so we can build a better future than just mass buildings.
Patch: If you weren't running for city council, which one of the other candidates would be your first choice?
Wiggs: I have had the pleasure of meeting the candidates running for city council. For me, I am looking for the leaders of our future. Sam Borelli has impressed me in many ways in his determination to lead and take on the job at hand. Christopher Landavazo has the determination to lead from a military and sheriff’s background, and has a community plan to guide his impact. Tristan Schukraft is ready to make an impact. Nick Garzilli has confused me, but made transportation issues his primary interest. Also, his dedication to his son has made the most impact on my impression of him in general. Tom Demille will be around for a long time voicing a needed opinion. I myself have to wonder by election day who I will vote for out of these qualified candidates.