On June 7, Beverly Hills voters will choose candidates for three City Council seats and the City Treasurer. The races have attracted huge interest from potential candidates, with 16 people starting the process to run since Feb. 14, according to City Clerk Huma Ahmed.
Of the 16, only three City Council candidates and two Treasurer candidates have officially qualified for the June ballot, according to Ahmed. That includes Councilmember Lester Friedman, Mayor Bob Wunderlich, and Planning Commissioner Andy Licht for City Council, and current City Treasurer Howard Fisher and City Treasurer candidate Jake Manaster.
The other 12 prospective candidates have pulled nomination papers from the Clerk’s Office and have until March 11 to submit the forms with 20 signatures by registered Beverly Hills voters.
Prospective candidates must also comply with complicated state election laws regulating spending and advertising, a process that involves numerous filings and the establishment of a separate bank account if a candidate intends on accepting contributions. So far, only eight people have filed the necessary election finance paperwork with the Clerk’s Office.
“In comparison to 2020, it’s a lot of people who pulled [nomination] papers,” Ahmed told the Courier.
Six candidates pulled nomination forms in 2020. All six successfully qualified for the ballot, with Councilmember Julian Gold and Vice Mayor Lili Bosse declaring victory.
Historically, the largest number of candidates to have ever competed in a single City Council race is 13 in 1988. Within the last two decades, the field of candidates has only cracked 10 twice, with 12 candidates in 2001 and 11 in 2009.
Much of the surge in interest appears driven by concerns around public safety, Ahmed said. Beverly Hills saw an alarming spike in violent crime from 2019 to 2021.
“There’s interest in public safety,” she said. said. “Across the board, that’s huge.”
Ahmed cautioned that the field is still in flux. Debbie Blum, who had previously declared her intention to run for City Council, withdrew from the race within the last week, she said. For someone to receive nomination forms, they need only be a registered voter in Beverly Hills.
In addition to the City Council seats and the City Treasurer’s office, Beverly Hills voters will also have the opportunity to impose a limit of three terms on those same offices. The initiative generated controversy when it was placed on the ballot in February 2021, partially because of a perception among some residents that it targeted specific council members, but also because of a legally questionable provision that would apply the limits retroactively to terms already served.
Beverly Hills voters will also have the chance to weigh in on the selection of a replacement for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors seat soon to be vacated by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who is serving her second term. While the field of candidates vying for the spot could still change, announced candidates include West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, State Sen. Bob Hertzberg, and State Sen. Henry Stern.