“Politics,” they say, “makes strange bedfellows.” After surveying the candidates for City Council in West Hollywood, I have found only one who views even come close resemble my own, but a number of others who have similar concerns about the problems facing our “urban village.” In choosing candidates to vote for (we can vote for up to three), I find mostly men (none of the challengers are female) with political views, at least on national issues, that are (often) polar opposites to my own.
Yet, when it comes to the burdens the City of West Hollywood places on entrepreneurs, I find common ground with at least two of the challengers, one of whom has an unfortunate record when it comes to Sarah Palin. Indeed, it is that stunt which almost prevented me from withholding my support, much less my vote, from Mito Aviles, but after meeting with him last Friday and considering our conversation about small business, I decided not just to give him my vote, but to endorse him as well.
I am not backing him for federal — or even state — office, but to serve as one of five councilors here in West Hollywood. He has experienced both on a personal level — and in conversations with friends and associates — just how the incumbents have failed local small business owners. Mito Aviles has seen the increasing numbers of shuttered storefronts along our main commercial thoroughfare, Santa Monica Boulevard, and recounts local entrepreneurs’ tales of woe as busybody city officials seek to enforce gratuitous ordinances and collect exorbitant fees. One entrepreneur was fined for trying to put his name on a storefront. Others were cited for covering more than 25% of his display window. (Just how do they measure that, I wonder? Does it count as covering if they use translucent lettering?)
In West Hollywood, Mito laments, you “can’t have creative signage.” Or sandwich boards. He points out that process of getting permits approved takes far too long, saying that it shouldn’t take three or six months for such approval and asking why the city puts up so many “roadblocks for small business.” He wants to streamline the permit process to “make it more efficient so people aren’t turned off.”
His campaign, he told me, is “about fostering and promoting small business here in West Hollywood.”
For the record, during our conversation, I tried to change his mind about Sarah Palin, detailing her accomplishments in her rise to political power in Alaska. He was unpersuaded, but did remind me that she is “not an issue in this city.” He also asked why I was a Republican and I outlined my commitment to freedom, pointing out that our party has similar concerns on a national level to those he has on a local level, challenging the capricious actions of a meddlesome state.
To be sure, Mito has worked for one Democrat, then-Congresswoman, now U.S. Labor Secretary, Hilda L. Solis who has long been a strong advocate of a more meddlesome federal government. But, I am, I repeat, not endorsing Mito for federal office. I’m endorsing him for West Hollywood City Council. Simply put, we need a man with business experience on a council dominated by community activist types, those more concerned with the ideology of community activism than the reality of marketing goods and services to a fickle and discriminating public. The incumbents see entrepreneurs not as imaginative individuals, creating jobs and promoting development, but as wealthy profiteers, who need the benign guidance of sage councilors to do the right thing for their community and who can provide the needed resources for the lavish benefits these sage office-holders offer city employees.
Mito is far from perfect, but is well aware of the growing distance between West Hollywood’s elected officials and its entrepreneurs, those who have long provided the life-blood of this city. We need someone with business experience on city council, a man aware of the challenges facing those creative types who move here to set up shop and market their “cutting-edge” wares to an artistic and often iconoclastic community. Mito Aviles is such a person. And that is why I, despite differing with him on a number of issues, am endorsing him for West Hollywood City Council.
If you live here, join me on March 8 in voting for Mito Aviles.
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