West Hollywood mayor addresses students
Jenna Wilson | Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Notre Dame alumna Lindsey Horvath has been called to do many things since her graduation from the University in 2004. Horvath, who spoke at Geddes Hall on Monday, has been an activist, an advertising executive and, now, a mayor over the course of her professional career.
“You never know when you’re going to be called up to do the thing you’re meant to do,” she said. “But trust me, you’re ready to do the thing you are meant to do, no matter when you’re called to do it.”
The Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy, the Gender Studies Program and ND Votes 2016 sponsored the lecture, titled “From Walsh Hall to City Hall.”
“I am here to share with you that a degree in the Arts and Letters program is profitable. But more importantly, you can use that degree to make a difference,” Horvath said. “I had opportunities here that I would have never had anywhere. Here, we were able to talk about different issues, not only from an academic perspective, but from a values perspective. They really helped me understand how the lessons I was learning in the classroom can be applied to my real life.”
After graduating from Notre Dame with a B.A. in political science and gender studies, Horvath worked in the entertainment advertising industry.
“I was worried that I was contributing to the kind of culture we always discussed in my gender studies classes,” she said. “I was worried that I wasn’t contributing enough.”
After moving to California from Los Angeles and beginning her career in creative advertising, Horvath said she met the mayor of Los Angeles while co-founding a local chapter of the National Organization for Women.
“I knew from a very young age that I was called to be of service,” she said. “The government and law — that’s how I wanted to make a difference. I felt that I could use that to make a difference.”
Horvath worked on multiple local commissions after serving a short term on the West Hollywood city council after receiving an appointment through a special election held among the other council members. At the end of her special term, she ran for the position in the 2011 election but lost. She continued to grow her career in entertainment by working at a tech startup in Los Angeles and starting her own advertising company.
Horvath said during this time, she considered herself an activist and was very involved with her local community.
“During that time, life was not very centered, not very balanced,” she said. “I didn’t know where I was going. My friend, the mayor, came to me saying ‘I’m not going to seek re-election,’ and I worried because she was the only woman on the city council. So I asked her, ‘Who is going to run?’ And she said, ‘You are.’”
Horvath said her friend’s encouragement prompted her to once again run for city council. The West Hollywood city council elects its mayor, and on March 3, the same night Horvath was elected onto city council, she officially became the mayor of West Hollywood.
Horvath said her policy focuses on helping the most marginalized sections of society, including LGBT homeless teens. She prides herself on bringing what she calls “new ways of thinking” to the political community.
“Throughout that process, I came from someone who was outright rejected, to someone who was embraced by the community,” Horvath said. “Statistically, it’s proven that women needed to be asked about nine times before they consider running for office. So for the women in the room, consider this the first time you’re being asked.”
According to Horvath, more than 50 percent of West Hollywood’s residents are less than 40 years old, but she is the only member of the city council that is under 40. She tries to encourage young people to get involved with the local government by creating task forces that younger generations can be involved with.
“A new generation of leadership isn’t just important — it is essential,” Horvath said. “It is essential for the way our society works. Our generation has so much to offer. I see the potential for this generational divide to tear us apart — that’s one of the reasons that I want to create age-friendly communities.”
Horvath encouraged all students to follow their passions, attributing her current to success to the passions she discovered at Notre Dame.
“Pursuing your passion is always worth it. I worked hard [at Notre Dame], and here is where I learned how to be myself and that’s exactly how I am able to do the things I do,” she said. “Letting people know who you are and what you’re about not only helps other people figure out who they are, but helps you better understand who you truly are.”