At the WeHo for the People Candidate forum, former Council member John Duran came out of hiding. The former City Council man served on the West Hollywood City Council for almost 20 years and was known for romancing issues as well as many controversies that followed him.
Sponsored by the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in coordination with the League of Women’s Voters and nine Neighborhood associations the forum offered new and old residents a taste of history with the return of three former Council members John Heilman, Steve Martin and John Duran, competing for a seat in the 2022 election.
Duran, who was defeated in 2020, wasted no time in reminding voters how much has changed since the 2020 election.
“Thank you to everybody who put this on. There is a saying, ..if you’re a liberal when you’re young, it shows you have a good heart. But if you don’t have any common sense when you get older it shows you’ve got no head. And I have to ask, in the past two years, How are things going in West Hollywood? The city is teetering and falling off the rails in the past two years. And you are given a very clear choice. You can either get a ‘mini-me’ version of the current council because some council members are supporting some of these candidates. You can get a ‘mini-me’ version. Or you can go to back to what we had. A strong relationship with the Sheriff’s Dept. A strong relationship with the Chamber of Commerce. Economic prosperity. All of these things were put in place because so many of us worked so hard to build this city. It’s all under threat. Let’s get back to sanity, John Duran on November the 8th.”
Duran’s reference to the mini-me version refers to John Erickson’s and Lindsey Horvath’s support of Chelsea Byers and Robert Oliver. Byers has never voted in a West Hollywood City Council election previously and lives with Austin Cyr. Cyr was Lindsey Horvath’s 2019 campaign manager. Oliver made headlines when he resigned from the Public Safety Commission in protest of the commissions refusal to take actions against John Duran over allegations of misconduct at the Gay Men’s Chorus. Oliver was escorted out of the room by Estevan Montemayor, a) Horvath’s 2015 campaign manager, b) current Rent Stabilization Commissioner and c) City Lobbyist. Oliver’s resignation was unusual in that the item was not on the agenda, nor was it the Public Safety Commission’s job to censure a City Council member. In addition the protest was futile in that Oliver’s comments came at the end of the meeting before adjournment with no opportunity for the discussion he protested over. It was later learned that Oliver had a pre-planned extended trip with his husband and left West Hollywood for almost a year shortly thereafter. Upon his return Oliver was rewarded with a seat on the Public Safety Commission. The three votes in favor were Horvath, Erickson and Shyne.
Oliver’s stunt caught the ire of Duran after it was learned that Montemayor’s plan to humiliate Duran was part of a larger plot to knock Duran out of any contention for a 2022 Supervisor run. With Horvath’s eye on Kuehl’s retirement and a bid for County Supervisor, Montemayor wanted to stain Duran. Duran had ran a strong race for County Supervisor a few years earlier and was set to enter the race pending Kuehl’s retirement. It is unclear if Horvath was aware prior to the resignation what was happening. Oliver was a pawn in the charade. Two months ago Oliver and I spent two hours talking about this election and this issue face to face. Oliver stated he did not have any knowledge of the game plan.
John Duran, often accused but with nothing ever proven, approached this 2022 election cautiously. His decision to run came after Lindsey Horvath made it into the runoff against Bob Hertzberg in the race to fill Sheila Kuehl’s seat on the County Board of Supervisors.
Duran was clear on the issues:
On 4am bar opening’s Duran was unequivocal: “Opposed to it. Nothing good happens between 2 and 6 in the morning. Seriously, seriously people go to bed, the night’s done, it’s closing time go, let everybody get to sleep. Opposed to it. On the other hand, Robert Oliver and Chelsea Byers, the mini-me versions supported their endorsers’ positions. Zekiah Wright, who is endorsed by Sepi Shyne also supported the 4am bar extensions.”
On defunding the Sheriff: Duran went after Oliver again. The Public Safety Commission decision to cut the Sheriff’s was a tragic mistake. The Public Safety Commission along with Mr. Oliver voted to cut 3 million dollars and 10 deputies from our city. Oliver who seconded the motion to defund the Sheriff on the Public Safety Commission has nuanced that position since. Duran has received the endorsement of ALADS, the Sheriff Deputy Union.
On Dockless Mobility Scooters: Duran was adamant. The word is ‘dockless’. We cannot have scooters laying all over our streets and sidewalks. Duran joined Lauren Meister in being opposed to the ‘dockless mobility program’. Nuancing both sides were Heilman, Martin, Oliver and Adolphson. The Disability Advisory Board recently voted to recommend the end to the dockless mobility pilot program.
The fiesty, bombastic, Duran, who is both beloved and despised, delivered and impassioned plea for his accomplishments in his closing statements. “I served on this Council 20 years and a lot of my handy work can be seen around the city. The nighttime shuttle -pick up line, dog parks in West Hollywood Park, (co-authored with Council member D’Amico), initiating a theatre district in the center city so we have live theatre and live cultural performances, my creation. I think people know that over my 20 years of service on the council that I was often very deliberative, often the swing vote deciding which way to go. My day job is I’m an attorney, started many organizations, the Life Aids Lobby, Equality California – which secured marriage equality for LGBT people, and most recently been working on issues around addiction and substance abuse – recovery in our community, leading efforts to save the Log Cabin on Robertson Blvd., and also secure a permanent home for the West Hollywood Alcohol and Recovery center. Those are all examples of the kind of work that I do. “