The West Hollywood City Council has three positions open in the Nov. 8 election. Twelve candidates, including three former council members and Mayor Lauren Meister, are vying for the spots. In the weeks leading up to the election, we will highlight these prospective council members in the order in which they respond to our inquiry.
Attorney John Duran served on the City Council from 2001-2020. If elected, Duran noted it would be his final term with the council, as he will have reached the city’s term limits. Duran lost a reelection bid in 2020, and he said he feels the council has since gone in the wrong direction.
“We successfully built a community that became one of the most prosperous cities in Southern California,” Duran said. “But in the past two years, so much of our handiwork has been threatened. The current council’s decision to defund the sheriff’s department and remove $3 million from their budget was a huge error. The city has the resources to fully fund the sheriff’s department. The council decision was based on politics rather than any rational justification, especially with the increased property crime and homelessness that we are facing in the city.”
Duran said he wants to support businesses, arguing that translates to better-funded social programs from the city’s “most vulnerable community members,” including “seniors, the LGBT community, people living with HIV and immigrants.”
Duran named public safety as the most pressing issue currently facing the city, but also noted that he is against a proposal that would reduce Fountain Avenue from four lanes to two lanes to create a permanent bike lane on the street.
“Our West Hollywood residents know that Fountain Avenue is the only artery that flows freely while Santa Monica Boulevard and the Sunset Strip are jammed,” Duran said. “While bike lanes may help some cyclists, it would dramatically impact the entire city with bottlenecked traffic from La Brea to La Cienega. All east/west thoroughfares (Sunset Boulevard, Fountain Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard) will suffer dramatic traffic jams. Additionally, the individuals who live on Fountain Avenue do not have garages, and there is zero available parking on the adjacent streets. This is the third rail of West Hollywood politics – do not touch Fountain Avenue.”
Duran also noted the inexperience of some candidates, contrasting it with his own, long tenure on the council, as well as his over 30 years as a city resident.
“Some of the candidates running for West Hollywood council have lived in the city for five years or less. Yet, these are the individuals who play politics in the local Democratic clubs and Democratic party (and are receiving their endorsements). They are ‘Mini Me’ extensions of the current council who just wish to use the West Hollywood council service as a launch pad for higher office. They moved here in the past few years and believe that they know best what will work for this 1.9 square miles of heaven.”
He added that West Hollywood is “unlike neighboring Los Angeles.”
“It is 35,000 souls densely jammed into 1.9 square miles. Each decision requires deliberative thought about unintended consequences, advantages and disadvantages with balancing of interests – and a great deal of patience and prudence. The newcomers to town should spend some time here first before asking to serve on the political body that impacts our residents far more than Sacramento or Washington D.C.”
Duran is endorsed by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the Los Angeles County Firefighters Association, the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce PAC and the West Hollywood Political Action Committee.
For information, visit johnduranforweho.com.
Chelsea Byers is a human services commissioner for the city of West Hollywood, as well as being an appointee to the 6th Cycle Housing Element Task Force in the city. She also serves on the board of directors for National Women’s Political Caucus and Abundant Housing Los Angeles, and is also the outgoing president of the Westside Young Democrats.
Byers sees housing as the most pressing issue facing the city.
“We have a moral obligation to create housing for the next generation in West Hollywood,” Byers said. “We have failed to build the amount of housing required to keep housing prices affordable and to prevent displacement, which has influenced our homelessness crisis and priced people out of our communities. As a queer, inclusive, sanctuary, pro-choice city, West Hollywood must ensure we are building the types of housing required to support the diverse lifestyles that are most cared for in our community. This includes trans and queer people, women, immigrants and political refugees.”
Byers also said that the city holds responsibility in leading the charge against climate change.
“Tackling [climate] issues in our 1.9 square miles requires a thoughtful perspective, lived experience and collaboration across jurisdictions. I live without a personal vehicle and use our public transit system and shared mobility services to navigate our community and I see on a day-to-day basis how unsafe it is for people to make these choices for themselves. I have built strong relationships with our neighboring communities and with leading advocacy organizations like Streets for All which are necessary partners in creating dedicated, safe pathways to reduce vehicle dependence across Los Angeles and address our climate goals,” Byers said.
She sees the climate and housing issues as intersecting with other needs within the community.
“The safer we make our streets, the more people will reduce their dependence on vehicles, and a more streamlined urban landscape will allow for new housing possibilities and thriving businesses. With a longtime housing and homelessness crisis and an evolving public health crisis, we must do much more to ensure affordable housing and services are available here. We can be the best city in the world if we live up to our values of inclusivity – and in today’s political climate, it’s more important than ever that we do so,” Byers said.
Byers also touted her endorsements, which include Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, 11th District, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), former West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land and current West Hollywood Councilman John Erickson, along with the SEIU-121RN nurses union, the SEIU-UHW health care workers union, the Unite Here Local 11 hotel workers union and the UFCW 770 grovery store workers union. Additionally, she has earned the support of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and the Los Angeles Labor Federation.
“I am proud to have built a dedicated and diverse coalition of supporters from across the region who care deeply about the future of our community,” Byers said.
For information, visit chelsea4weho.com.
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