Successor Needs Time to Look for Work : W. Hollywood Extends Mayor’s Term

Times Staff Writer

West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman’s term was extended this week by almost two months after his designated successor, Councilman Stephen Schulte, asked for more time to attend to personal business.

Heilman, who had expected to step down this week, will remain in office until June. Schulte, who has held the largely ceremonial post of mayor pro tempore during Heilman’s term as mayor, said he hoped to be ready to take over the job by June 1.

“I just wasn’t ready to be mayor yet,” Schulte said during a lull in a brief council session Tuesday night. “I have to get a private job settled before I take on any additional responsibilities in the council.”


Schulte Laid Off

In addition to his $400-a-month council duties, Schulte had held a private consulting job with T.J. Schmidt & Associates, a Washington-based health planning firm working on AIDS education projects under contract with the federal government. Schulte said that the firm had lost its federal grant, and, as a result, he and several other consultants were laid off.

“I’m going to need some time to find employment,” Schulte said.

In West Hollywood, the mayor is elected by the council and performs two major functions--managing council meetings and acting as the city’s spokesman. The pay does not differ from the salary of other council members.

The council voted unanimously to extend Heilman’s term. Councilwoman Valerie Terrigno, who has been on a leave of absence in New Jersey, was not present.

Heilman jokingly insisted during the session that he would not continue as mayor beyond June. “Don’t try to sneak out of it,” he warned Schulte. “I’m giving you this gavel in June, whether you like it or not.”

Heilman has been mayor since last August, when he took over from Terrigno, the city’s first mayor. Under an agreement reached in November, 1984, after the city’s incorporation election, the five council members allowed Terrigno to serve as mayor for eight months, after which Heilman took the post for eight months.

Terrigno Dispute

The agreement was questioned last August by some of Terrigno’s supporters, who tried to extend her term in office. But Terrigno did not have enough votes to overturn the agreement and Heilman took over the mayor’s post. Terrigno has since been convicted on federal embezzlement charges and faces an April 30 sentencing date.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, city officials also validated the vote returns from the previous week’s council election. In that election, three council incumbents--Heilman, Schulte and Councilwoman Helen Albert--were all returned to office. Heilman received 23% of the vote totals, Albert won 22.5% and Schulte took 15.5%.