Kevin And Don Respond To Being Self Loathing
Looking back at their journey from the Stonewall Democratic Club to Log Cabin Republicans, they claim it was one that was actually started by the democrats. After being told that marriage as not a priority on the agenda in 1995, they became disillusioned with the DEMS. For a decade they felt like they did not belong until they met the republicans of the Log Cabin Republican Club and discovered they too shared a dream of marriage equality. This blog is now a digital time capsule of their time as Republicans and moderated by a friend and supporter.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Meet Scott Schmidt, a gay Republican willing to cross the aisle
Esther Rubio-Sheffrey - SDGLN Staff Writer
January 20th, 2011
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Scott Schmidt wants to be elected to the West Hollywood City Council.
Schmidt was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. After obtaining his master's of science in international public administration from USC in 1996, Schmidt decided that California would be his permanent home.
For 10 of his last 15 years in Southern California, Schmidt has resided in one of L.A.’s most eclectic and LGBT-friendly cities – West Hollywood.
“This is a fabulous place,” Schmidt said. “The weather is nice and the people are great. I really found a home in West Hollywood even when I was not living here. It is a place that welcomes everyone regardless of race, gender, age – everyone. And there’s always someone ready to give a helping hand.”
Educated and groomed in many ways for a life of public service and politics, Schmidt is one of 10 candidates vying for the three West Hollywood City Council seats up for election on March 8.
His opponents include Councilmembers Lindsey Horvath and Abbe Land. Although Horvath joined the council in May 2009, after the death of Councilmember Sal Guarriello, Land has been a part of the council since West Hollywood became a city in 1984.
“I am running against people who have been there too long,” Schmidt said. “If you want something to get done, let someone new try it ... someone who has served on city commissions, has gotten legislation passed in Sacramento, has taken on the utility companies, and has made things happen in our town. That’s the choice I offer voters.”
“I am not part of the machine so I will bring a fresh perspective,” he said.
The record speaks for itself
Schmidt is president of RSC Partners Inc., a strategic communications consultancy founded in West Hollywood in 2006. The firm advises corporations, high-profile individuals, political campaigns and non-profits on leveraging “new media” to accomplish strategic communications objectives.
In 2008, Schmidt managed two online campaigns — the National Organization for Women PAC’s independent expenditure “Hillary Speaks for Me” and Log Cabin’s Republicans Against 8 effort to defend the right to marry for gay and lesbian couples in California.
Although he is a Republican candidate, he stresses that sound principals are non-partisan and when necessary, he is prepared to work with both sides of the isle.
“In the case of Hillary,” Schmidt said, “My task was to get her video out there and deliver her message. With the Log Cabin Republicans, I was also delivering a message, this time for marriage equality. Although the messages are different, the tools are all the same.”
Schmidt, along with Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black, received the Pollie Award from the American Association of Political Consultants for “Best Use of Web Video in a State Ballot Measure campaign” for the videos produced for Republicans Against 8.
“I constantly try to utilized new tools not necessarily being used, along with the basics like Facebook, Twitter and recently FourSquare,” he said. “There are so many different ways to reach people, and it’s important to utilize as many as possible.”
Schmidt is serving his second term on the West Hollywood Transportation Commission, which elected him chairman after just two years of service. He has fought to provide the highest level of service for the community at the lowest cost.
He said that through the Franchise D initiative the city gets about $200,000 for senior citizen transportation services. “The funds used to go to a dial-a-ride-type of shuttle, program but seniors often had to wait for up to three hours, and there were cheaper alternatives,” he said.
By utilizing Schmidt’s suggestion to give the funds directly to seniors in the form of taxi vouchers, not only was the service more convenient for seniors, but more seniors benefited because taxis were more cost effective, often costing less than $30 round-trip.
His initiative to double the size of signage at the city’s Taxi Zones led to a 50% decrease in the number of tickets issued in the first year. Additionally, as Transportation Commissioner, Schmidt has reduced complaints of taxi over-charges by synchronizing West Hollywood’s taxi rates with neighboring cities.
In 2007, he began a regional effort to organize support for a subway extension to link West Hollywood to Santa Monica and Hollywood.
“West Hollywood is a destination for the region and if we were going to have a shot, we needed to support the type of funding outlined in Measure R,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt’s constituents agreed, and turnout at community meetings in West Hollywood was higher than in any other community. As a result, support for Measure R was higher in West Hollywood than any other municipality in Los Angeles County.
“The subway funding sales tax needed two-thirds to pass, and 83 percent of that vote came from West Hollywood, more than any other city,” Schmidt said. “Efficient public transportation is the only way to get people out of their cars.”
Schmidt’s advocacy accomplishments reach beyond the borders of West Hollywood.
From 1999 to 2003, he served as government liaison for the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) – one of the first business groups in California to support the creation of a statewide domestic partner registry. In 2008, he again stood up for marriage equality, helping to advocate against Proposition 8.
“Even though Prop. 8 passed, I am hopeful that the courts will settle the issue, and if we have to go back to the ballot, I believe the work we continue today to make the case to conservatives will make a difference. It is a critical message,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt’s long record of community involvement also includes service as a member of County Assessor Rick Auerbach’s Citizen Advisory Panel, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Los Angeles, and as the Development Committee chairman of Councilmember Jeffrey Prang’s Blue Ribbon Commission during his term as mayor.
If elected to the council, Schmidt said he would work on several initiatives important to his constituents, including an increase in public parking, nighttime public safety and restoring fiscal responsibility.
“In West Hollywood parking pays for itself,” Schmidt said. “We can improve it by 1) building more lots where the land is available, and 2) by allowing the properties that have been approved for development but have not found financing to temporarily convert the lot into a parking lot. It makes sense, but we don’t do allow that right now.”
Much like San Diego, West Hollywood is a city with a budget crisis, although Schmidt says that is not something every candidate wants to admit.
“In order to restore the budget cuts made to public and safety programs we have to refocus priorities,” Schmidt said. “Over the last few years we have seen program costs increase from 10 to 15 million (50%), but at the same time we have seen an increase in salaries from 12 to 24 million (100%).”
“That is obscene,” he said. “We have 23 staff positions that make more than $150,000 a year. That money needs to be put back where it matters, like the Sheriff’s Department or Social Services.”
Republican vs. Democrat
West Hollywood is one of America’s densest cities with 37,000 residents in only 1.9 square miles. Home to a large majority of LGBT residents, Schmidt says he is not at all concerned that they may vote for a Democrat in lieu of a Republican.
“In local government party doesn’t matter as much,” Schmidt said. “There is no such thing as a Republican traffic jam or a Democratic traffic jam. Labels don’t matter to people as much as candidates reflecting what they care about.”
“When it comes to gay and lesbian issues I have always been there,” he said. “My record of accomplishment shows that I understand the needs of the entire community, and that’s what is important.”
Schmidt said he hopes to model some of his reforms after San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, who is considering making a run for mayor.
“Carl was not afraid to take on the city’s pension and budget,” Schmidt said. “Both of our cities our facing structural deficits and people need someone who can take on the establishment.”
“I have friends and supporters from all over the country through my Log Cabin network,” Schmidt said. “But I have endorsements from both sides of the isles.”
In addition to the Republican endorsements of the Log Cabin organization and Councilmember DeMaio, Bill Rosendahl, the first openly gay Los Angeles city councilman, also endorses Schmidt.
“I am proud to have his support; Rosendahl is as far left as you can get politically,” Schmidt said. “I am not running a typical campaign and I am not your typical candidate in West Hollywood.”
Schmidt plans to visit San Diego, not just to raise money for his campaign, but to hopefully meet leaders from both sides of the isle, and meet with people who have a genuine interest in politics.
“It’s important to get out and talk to folks,” Schmidt said. “I have learned from events in San Francisco and New York that everyone knows someone from West Hollywood. I invite San Diegans to come out and give me a chance, especially if you have never met a gay Republican you can agree with.”
"An Evening With Scott Schmidt" is set for Jan. 23
San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, Brandy and Frank Christian, and Log Cabin Republicans San Diego invite San Diegans to meet Schmidt on Sunday, Jan. 23.
“I have known Scott for years and he has always had a passion for public service and making government work again,” DeMaio said. “I’m proud to offer my endorsement to Scott and look forward to working with him to advance the interests of local government, particularly during a time when the state is gearing up to cut local funding and services.”
The two-hour event will begin at 6 p.m. at Eden, 1202 University Ave. in Hillcrest.
Tickets range from $25 for general admission to $500 for host level tickets. For additional information, or to make a campaign contribution, call (323) 850-0072 or visit the Scott Schmidt website. West Hollywood City Council election information is also available here.