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Sepi Shyne makes history in West Hollywood City Council win

Sepi Shyne

Sepi Shyne made history Tuesday night when was elected the first Iranian American and first LGBTQ Iranian American to the West Hollywood City Council, according to unofficial results. Photo: Facebook.

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Sepi Shyne made triple history Tuesday as the first Iranian American, first LGBTQ Iranian, and the first queer woman of color to be elected to the West Hollywood City Council, according to unofficial results from the Los Angeles County Register-Recorder/Country Clerk’s office.

The County Clerk will certify the election results later this month.

“Thank you to my wife, my team, all our supporters and our volunteers for helping us make history,” Shyne said in a post on social media.

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“I am incredibly proud of the success of our people-powered campaign. We laid out a broad and progressive vision that protects renters, rejects special interests, and reimagines how we invest in our quality of life in West Hollywood,” she said.

Shyne, 43, an attorney, West Hollywood business license commissioner, and LGBTQ activist, also said she will reach out to gain the trust of residents who didn’t vote for her.  

“I am grateful to everyone who placed their trust in me, and I look forward to earning the trust of those who didn’t vote for me,” Shyne said. “Together, we will move our city forward and ensure that West Hollywood remains the gem it has always been.”

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Two council seats were open in the election, and both incumbents lost, sending a clear message that voters want change.

John Heilman, a councilman since West Hollywood was incorporated in 1984, came in fourth and John Duran, a councilman since 2001, came in fifth in a field of 11 candidates.

John Erickson, 35, who identifies as gay and is the director of public affairs with Planned Parenthood, came in second place with 6,488 votes, or 22%, according to unofficial results.

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Shyne received about 24% of the total or 7,041 votes, according to the unofficial results.

Shyne and Erickson will be sworn in as council members on Dec. 7.

Heilman received about 18%, and Duran received about 9% of the votes.

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Duran also posted comments on social media.

“It appears that both John Heilman and I are not going to be re-elected to Weho Council,” Duran said. “It looks likely that the voters wanted change and fresh faces at city hall. If this is the case, we all need to support the new council members because they will have a heavy lift immediately in dealing with a public health emergency and West Hollywood economic collapse. I will wish them well and will offer to help anyway that I can….If I lose – it has been a GREAT 20 years on council.”

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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