Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect new information from City Hall. The provisional and permanent absentee ballots will be counted Monday. A hand count of a selection of the precincts will also take place Monday. The new City Council will be sworn in March 21.
Change arrived in West Hollywood politics Tuesday night with the election of John D’Amico to the . The heavily favored 48-year old easily won one of the three seats up for election by defeating incumbent .
Incumbents and were both re-elected. D’Amico, Land and Heilman will be sworn into office on March 21.
Land, who has served on the council for 18 years, was the overall top vote getter with 2,548 votes, while D’Amico came in second, just 77 votes behind her. Heilman, who has served on the council continuously since 1984, landed in third place, 112 votes behind D’Amico.
, who served on the council from 1994 to 2003, came in fourth, while Horvath landed in fifth place. Horvath becomes the second incumbent in the city’s 26-year history ever to be defeated. The other defeated incumbent is Martin, who lost his seat in 2003 to Land (who chose not to run for re-election in 1997, but put her name back on the ballot in 2003).
Horvath has never faced the voters before. She was appointed to the council in May 2009 after the death of longtime Councilman Sal Guarriello. Horvath’s appointment was fraught with controversy as many residents said the then-25-year-old lacked experience and had moved into the city only 18 months earlier.
The show that Land won 2,548 votes. D’Amico got 2,471 and Heilman received 2,359.
Martin came in fourth place with 2,026 votes, some 333 votes behind Heilman. Ironically, when Martin tried to rejoin the council in 2007, he then too lost by 333 votes.
Horvath landed in fifth place with 1,902 votes, 124 votes behind Martin.
was far below in sixth place with 1,226 votes, while landed in seventh place with 919 votes. Mark Gonzaga and came in eighth and ninth place, respectively, with just 5 votes separating them—474 for Gonzaga and 469 for John.
Martin Topp, who withdrew from the race for personal reasons but whose name still appeared on the ballot, was in last place with 140 votes.
D’Amico carried six of the city’s 11 precincts. As expected, he had his strongest showing in the Boystown districts, where Martin also had strong support.
Heilman was the top vote getter in three of the 11 precincts. His strongest showings were in the largely Russian-populated eastern districts.
In five of the six precincts where D’Amico came in first place, Heilman came in fourth place. If Boystown made up the entire city, Martin would have earned a seat and Heilman would be out. Land would still have won her seat.
By contrast, if east West Hollywood (the portion of the city east of Fairfax) made up the entire city, D’Amico would not have won his seat; Horvath would have remained on the council along with Heilman and Land.
Martin beat out Horvath in every precinct but two. Both those precincts were on the city’s east side.
A total of 5,346 people voted in this election, roughly 23 percent of registered votes. That’s up 503 people from 2007, the last time Heilman and Land were on the ballot and when turnout was 22 percent. In 2009, when council members and were re-elected to their seats, the turnout was 18 percent.
Yet to be counted are 930 provisional and permanent absentee ballots. A provisional ballot is used when a voter goes to the wrong precinct, does not have proper identification or has inaccurate or out-of-date information on his or her voter registration (such as a wrong address or misspelled name). Permanent absentee ballots are used for people who elect to always vote by mail, such as military personnel.
The provisional ballots and permanent absentee ballots will be counted Monday at 1:30 p.m. at . While this was originally announced for Thursday, this count will now happen on Monday to allow time to send the absentee ballots to the county registrar to have the signatures verified.
With 930 votes still up for grabs, it is possible the final results could change. Martin might surge into third place and Heilman could be out. However, City Clerk Tom West said that is unlikely to happen since the absentee and provisional ballots generally follow the same patterns as other ballots.
Also on Monday at 9 a.m., a hand count of a “Selection of the Precincts to be Tallied” will be conducted as required under state law.
If one of the candidates requests it, a manual count of every city ballot could happen.
The votes are scheduled to be certified at the March 21 City Council meeting. The new council will be sworn in at the same time.