We’ve been checking every day for the final Beverly Hills City Council election results to be posted and finally the election results are in! After a month of prolonged suspense from Los Angeles County we now know our new City Council. The big news is that Nancy Krasne is out and newcomers Les Friedman and Bob Wunderlich are in. What a nail-biter!
Those of us who saw our 10% increases summarily chopped to 3% recently understand how important it is that our elected representatives recognize the importance of residential stability in multifamily neighborhoods. A single vote this way or that can have a major impact on those who rent. The election results are in and we are very happy with the lineup!
John Mirisch returns to City Council for a third term. He joins incoming Mayor Lili Bosse in what we expect will be a strong alliance to support a stronger rent stabilization ordinance. Both Mirisch and Bosse have shown they are cognizant of tenants’ concerns and his reelection (by a wide margin) suggests some consistency as we continue to evolve the rent stabilization ordinance.
Mirisch is politically unaligned and runs his own campaign show, but nominally he’s a Republican (though with positions that run far afield of the party’s platform to be sure). Mirisch’s signature issues are autonomous vehicles and support for Israel. He and his son Vince are big Australian Rules football fans (and Dodgers fans too). He lives in the Southeast area.
Also elected was former Traffic and Parking Commission member Les Friedman. He’s a workers’ compensation attorney in private practice. He’s also a longtime member of the local democratic machine, the West Hollywood Democratic Club/Beverly Hills Democratic Club. The club lays low and surfaces with mailers around election time, but it’s peppered with longtime Beverly Hills former officials and boldfaced names.
Notably the Friedman campaign was run by Councilmember Julian Gold’s campaign advisor. Both Friedman and Gold live north of Santa Monica Boulevard. We expect some alignment on political positions in that established Beverly Hills sort of way.
In February candidate forums, Friedman pointedly declined to endorse City Council’s January urgency ordinance that capped rent increases at 3% (and imposed relocation fees for all who rent). Gold had pushed against the 3% cap, too, and when asked about rent stabilization (and that 3% cap) he invoked Gold’s language on the issue.
Newcomer Robert Wunderlich also joins the dais. He was previously the city’s delegate to the Metropolitan Water District, and in that capacity worked most closely with the Public Works Commission on water issues. A few years of drought brought much attention to the commission and to the delegate.
Wunderlich squeaked out a close victory with support from Mirisch. His major campaign issue was the need for a city auditor. Beverly Hills tends to paper over its dysfunction and an auditor, we agree, is a means to making sure the city runs as well as it can.
He and his wife Andrea Spatz live in the Southwest, south of Olympic. Both are walking and multimodal transportation proponents.
Councilmember Nancy Krasne failed to keep her seat. She trailed the third-place finisher Wunderlich by only 18 votes! As our incoming Mayor she would be setting the agenda for the proceeding rent stabilization ordinance policy process. Now Lili Bosse will rotate into the mayor’s chair.
Her defeat is notable for two reasons. She’s a long-serving councilmember and something of an iconic presence on the dais. She’s also been a vote for rent stabilization, notably as vice-mayor bringing the rent stabilization ordinance changes to Council in January. Indeed Krasne was viewed by some as an ally on rent stabilization. For example, she has on occasion extended personal assistance to those who rent. And she was talking about the issue when few councilmembers did.
We recognized her good heart, but we were less certain about he commitment to a robust slate of tenant protections as the rent stabilization ordinance discussion moved forward. For example, she only reluctantly supported the essential registry of rental units. Like Gold, she questioned its cost and the cost-effectiveness of developing a registry.
Krasne also circulated to fellow councilmembers an article from the February issue of Apartment Owners Magazine titled, ‘The High Cost of Rent Control.”
We also saw late money come into her campaign (in a very organized fashion) from Beverly Hills property owners and interests. She was otherwise self-funded as a candidate.
In fact, no other candidate pulled in as much money from property interests (or garnered as big a proportion of their total contributions from them). Half of her money in the most recent reporting period (ending 2/18/17) came from property owner or management interests.
Other candidates on average took in only one-fifth of their support from property interests during that reporting period. Mirish and Wunderlich who each received rock-bottom support from owners and managers.
Ultimately we campaigned against Krasne because we saw her as too unpredictable to have in the mayor’s chair at such an important time. We endorsed John Mirisch and Bob Wunderlich (who did edge her out by those 18 votes!).
Krasne Re-Brands Her Campaign
Nancy Krasne didn’t make tenant protections a campaign message until we started to organize against her. Tenant issues didn’t have a place in her campaign platform and were not mentioned on her campaign website either. Likewise, her campaign mailers were silent on tenants’ rights. The one campaign event that did reach out to tenants was cancelled.
But once Renters Alliance sent out an appeal to voters for other candidates, Krasne re-branded her campaign as the renter’s [sic] candidate. It was a nimble pivot in the closing days of the campaign.
Krasne spent thousands of dollars to put pro-tenant flyers into mailboxes. She re-labeled an already-scheduled wine and cheese reception as as a tenants’ rights event. We saw Krasne flyers on cars in our multifamily neighborhood on election day.
But her late push was not enough to overtake Wunderlich for the #3 spot.
Without the help of a dozen volunteers to hang flyers and to make contact with voters on election day, we would be facing a decidedly unsympathetic City Council today. We want to thank all of you who helped!
Going forward into later elections, turnout will be key. We want to see a bump-up in turnout across precincts that include multifamily blocks. We didn’t do it this time: turnout was very low overall (about 16% of registered voters voted). Our challenge was to explain a complex issue and frame the voter’s choice as a strategic one. But the electorate was very difficult to motivate.