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One of the most liberal cities in the country takes a moderate turn after the election and pushes back on ‘defunding the police’

California’s notorious liberal West Hollywood town could take a more moderate turn after this year’s midterm elections, with residents voting for candidates backed by the police department and local chamber of commerce rather than young incumbents progressive.

“It’s always been seen as very progressive, but a lot of the residents are also aging into more moderate positions,” Jessica Levinson, a professor of election law at Loyola Law School, told MSN of West Hollywood in a report Saturday.

Levinson’s comments come as the city’s ultra-progressive city council apparently faced voter pushback in this month’s midterm elections, including on criminal justice issues.

John Heilman served as a city councilman for 36 years and was once among what The Times called “one of the most liberal in the state” in California. He helped usher in a new era of progressive politics for the city in the mid-1980s as a member of the nation’s first city council with an openly gay majority, enacting rent control policies, limits on evictions and prohibitions of discrimination against homosexual residents.


Hollywood sign on November 17, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
(Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images))

Heilman lost his council seat to two younger, more liberal candidates after the 2020 election, a result that has led the city to take an even bigger leftward shift over the past two years.

But the politicians now appear to be facing pushback from city voters, with Heilman in a strong position to win back his seat as the final votes are counted. Both Heilman and moderate Mayor Lauren Meister were backed by local law enforcement and the Chamber of Commerce and were staked with 3,718 and 5,770 votes respectively.

“When I was first elected in 1984, I never imagined that I would still have the opportunity to serve the community today,” Heilman told MSN, saying townspeople wanted that “council members focus on public safety, homelessness and basic services” and to “see the city working collaboratively with the business community.”

The results may point to a pushback against the younger, more liberal council, which recently voted to make cuts to the police department and implement what was then the highest minimum wage in the nation.

A protester holds a 'Defund The Police' sign.

A protester holds a ‘Defund The Police’ sign.
(Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)


With concerns about crime on the rise across the country, Levinson argued that even some progressives might be more moderate about their safety.

“Progressive and non-progressive don’t always cut clean slates on criminal justice issues,” Levinson told MSN. “When people feel their security is threatened in any way, they tend not to vote as liberal as they otherwise would.”


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