Q&A: George Nickle, candidate for WeHo City Council

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LARRY: Hi George, – and Congratulations on your decision to run for West Hollywood City Council.

GEORGE: Hi Larry! Thank you. I love this City and felt it was important for me to do so.

 

LARRY: Who is George Nickle? Where were you born and how did you wind up in West Hollywood?

I am originally from rural Pennsylvania, near Gettysburg. The Appalachian Trail practically ran through my back yard. It’s very beautiful and full of history. You have brightly painted hex signs on barns and Amish buggies on the streets. When I was 8, we moved to a small town outside of Winston-Salem, NC, which was complete culture shock! I graduated from the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, the first public arts conservatory in America, and headed straight to Los Angeles.

 

LARRY: When did you decide to place your hat in the ring and run for public office?

GEORGE: I decided late last year. We had our first event at Dialog Café in late December.

 

LARRY: Tell us about your community involvement before being appointed to the Public Safety Commission in 2023.

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GEORGE: Like a lot of people, we moved to West Hollywood because it had a good reputation for being safe and a sanctuary for the LGBTQ+ community. That was 19 years ago. We walked at night without giving it a second thought. Then 6 years ago, the ADU behind the duplex we rent had squatters who became violent. They were doing drugs and smashing windows with a baseball bat. We had to call the police. I went that week to the Public Safety Commission, made a public comment, and found that I was not alone. Others on the east side were having issues. Ruth Williams, who was then Chair, came up to me afterward and said that if I wanted to do something I should start a Neighborhood Watch Group and I did with a lot of help and encouragement from her.

With my little group I made developers pay for double pane windows for my neighbors to mitigate the sound of construction of The Charlie project on Santa Monica Boulevard and umbrellas to help keep privacy once the tall building was built. Eventually I merged my group with the WeHo East Neighborhood Watch Group, which has been great. Come by our National Night Out celebration in August! We go all out.

When the Public Safety Commission voted to cut 10 of our sworn sheriff’s deputies, I really started to speak out and published my first Op-Ed right here. I got involved in the 2022 election because I wanted to have a voice, and Councilmember Meister appointed me to the Public Safety Commission after her re-election.

 

LARRY: How does your job experience be used to help your decisions as a city council member?

GEORGE: I went to film school and came to LA to pursue a career in screenwriting but ended up on the business side of the industry. For the last 8 years I’ve been the Director of Sales for an Over the Counter pharmaceutical company specializing in export. I deal with governments and Ministries of Health across the world every day. I understand how government works and how to get things done. I’ve grown our business to the point where we opened our own bottling facility in the Valley a few years ago and if I don’t keep business flowing, those employees who work there do not have the work they need to pay their bills. Real world experience like this is necessary to understand that decisions have long-ranging consequences and that a thriving business community means thriving families.

 

LARRY: I’ve had the pleasure of meeting your husband Alex and he is a nice man with a heavy accent. Are you open to sharing your personal story? Or how you met or when you decided to get married?

GEORGE: Alex is a very nice man, thank you! Alex was born in The Netherlands to Hungarian refugees. His first language was Hungarian and he is very Hungarian. He speaks a total of 5 languages. We’ve been together for 28 years this year and will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary in October. I am very, very lucky.

Before I went to the arts conservatory, I took some general studies classes at a local community college. Alex was my history teacher. Scandalous! But not really. History is my favorite subject — had I not gone to film school I would have become an Egyptologist or Cold War historian —and he is as obsessed with history as I am. He was just my teacher, but two years later I ran into him at a coffee shop — how very 90s! — and we then started a conversation that’s never ended.

 

LARRY: Which decisions of the current City Council do you disagree with?

GEORGE: First and foremost, the decision to move forward with cutting 2 of our Sheriff’s deputies in the middle of a spike in crime, even after the Department of Homeland Security warned of increased threats to the Jewish & LGBTQ+ communities, immediately comes to mind. FYI, I have so far been endorsed by ALADS, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, and LAADDA, the Association of Deputy District Attorneys. They know that I will prioritize public safety.

The decision to allow the failed and dangerous e-scooter program to continue is another. Especially as it is presented as a way to combat climate change while the city’s own study showed that 66% of riders used e-scooters instead of walking, thereby contributing to climate change.

Perhaps most maddening is the decision to cede the little bit of control the state gives us over development back to big developers by not demanding a one-to-one replacement of all demolished rent stabilized units with 100% affordable units. This was a gift to developers. Some of the current Councilmembers ran on protecting rent-stabilized units, however, their votes proved otherwise.

 

Which decisions of the current City Council do you agree with?

GEORGE: Plummer Park’s Great Hall/Long Hall being granted Local Cultural Resource status! That I absolutely agree with. Greenspaces are vital and protecting the history of our community is our responsibility. ACT UP LA held its meetings there. It was formed there. We all owe Stephanie Harker and Cathy Blaivas an enormous debt for saving those historic buildings and saving the park’s glorious trees. The Council was right to grant that status.

I want to say that we have so much to be grateful for in West Hollywood. Elections are often about highlighting the differences between those running. You end up talking a lot about what is going wrong, and we do have things going wrong, which were avoidable and actively chosen. But we need to take time to remember how lucky we are to live in this city. As you can tell from my background, I grew up in small towns and my family and friends still live in them. To those who are LGBTQ+, West Hollywood is a miracle. They can’t walk down their main street holding hands with the person they love without risking their physical safety. They can’t imagine having a police force like ours, with members of our community proudly serving in it and protecting us. None of this is by accident. Many very smart and dedicated public servants spent decades to build this for us. And it is worth protecting.

 

LARRY: So, what are the biggest challenges facing West Hollywood today?

GEORGE: Affordability for Residents and Businesses.

Back to Basics Commonsense Governance, which includes focusing on Transparency and Ethical Reforms.

Community Livability, which includes dealing with Overdevelopment and Homelessness.

Community Safety, the most sacred duty of any elected official.

The ABCs!

Please visit my website to read more about my priorities and plans: https://www.nickle4weho.com/priorities

 

LARRY: Favorite place to play or dine in West Hollywood?

GEORGE: I’ve been Vegan for decades and we are lucky to have some great Vegan restaurants in our city! Pura Vita is amazing. Everything on their menu is so good. It is all so fresh and flavorful. And you must end every meal with the Zeppole. Love Organic Café is very nice too. Thai is one of my favorites so I was really happy when they opened. The Butcher’s Daughter is a really beautiful space with great food. We went there for Alex’s birthday last year. I enjoy our parks, Plummer is my neighborhood park, and to just get out and walk. We are very lucky to live in a walkable city with so much just footsteps away. And you always meet friends and neighbors along the way. Remember, we were founded to be an Urban Village!

 

There is lots to talk about. Please know you are welcome to submit your thoughts and OpEd’s throughout the years. WEHOonline is an open platform for community engagement.

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Nicholas Roybal
Nicholas Roybal
3 months ago

Falling in love with a Hungarian history teacher… now that’s worth voting for in West Hollywood. Just sayin… #Nickle4WeHo

Leslie Karliss
Leslie Karliss
3 months ago

I think George would be a great addition to council. He’s got my vote.

Sheila Lightfoot
Sheila Lightfoot
3 months ago

George has my enthusiastic support! We desperately need another level headed, pragmatic Councilmember who will put the real concerns of West Hollywood residents first. Working with him, he’s even more impressive and sincere than his words. There will be no personal agendas, phony showmanship, conceit or drama… just dedication. And, there will be no bowing down to serve moneyed interests over the well-being of the residents and local businesses.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago

He’s got my vote. Now if we can just get Alan to run too. 😉

Kimberly Copeland
Kimberly Copeland
3 months ago

George has been active and engaged in the betterment of his community for years- long before deciding to run. I also know from personal experience that he is responsive when contacted about neighborhood issues -and most importantly, he actually continues to follow through. He listens and then he acts and wants resolutions .I respect that. His priorities will remain right here in WeHo, I have no doubt.

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
3 months ago

How wonderfully refreshing to read this honest and down to earth interview with George…especially after some of the other phony baloney interviews I have read!
I made up a campaign slogan for George, “Vote for George Nickle! He won’t take a Dime from developers!“ It’s pretty corny, I guess, and it was never officially approved by anyone, but when I don’t want people to forget George’s name, I tell them that slogan, and they think it’s a good way to remember it!
#Nickle4WeHo

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
3 months ago
Reply to  Mikie Friedman

As soon as he doesn’t vote the way you want on an issue, you’ll turn on him too. I guarantee it. I’ll bookmark this comment thread to make sure you remember.

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
3 months ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

whatever

West
West
3 months ago

George’s relatability is easily his best asset, and a breath of fresh air in Weho’s current elitist political climate. Best of luck in his race this year.

John Smith
John Smith
3 months ago

Seems like more of the same.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
3 months ago
Reply to  John Smith

I disagree. We have put up with four years of performative politics where certain Council members are more interested in promoting personal agendas that are often disconnected from the reality of West Hollywood, rather than someone who is clearly more grounded and interested in tackling the issues that impact residents. After dealing with messianic Council members and their condescending approach to the residents, it is refreshing to see someone who has actually lived in the City for more than nine months and who without pretense of being something he isn’t.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve Martin

Yes‼️

BloodshotEyedGuy
BloodshotEyedGuy
3 months ago

Doh! I was totally all in, 100 percent without question after reading his entire interview very carefully. But then…in the very last question, he completey destroyed any chance of my support due to one admission: “…I’ve been vegan for decades…” It’s the only thing more annoying than saying, “I joined P.E.T.A…”

Last edited 3 months ago by BloodshotEyedGuy
Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
3 months ago

George is a vegan by choice and does not proselytize about it. Everyone makes individual choices and the key is to differentiate between those who make personal choices for themselves, and those who would foist should be individual choices onto others. I’m confident that George will not be advocating for a vegans-only West Hollywood.

Long Time Resident
Long Time Resident
3 months ago

In my opinion, not supporting someone because they are vegan is dumb. Their stance on issues is what is important, not what they put in their mouth.

Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
3 months ago

I think you’re confused. George is not an evangelical vegan who forces his beliefs on other people. He is just a garden variety vegan… (Pun intended. 😘)

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
3 months ago
Reply to  Mikie Friedman

I am one of those people who demands that dinner must have had parents. George has always had a good sense of humor when I tease him about turnip meat loafs and other sophomoric
comments I have made about his diet. In West Hollywood we celebrate diverse lifestyles.

Virginia Gillick
Virginia Gillick
3 months ago

I never knew George was a Vegan. He has never mentioned it to me. I am not a vegan and I love Irv’s Burgers, but I do not think everyone should eat what I eat.

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