On Tuesday night, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to shorten Mayor John Duran’s term by four months amid allegations that he sexually harassed multiple men.
He will retain his current title until May 20, when a new mayor will be installed, and Duran will revert to his previous role of councilmember. In West Hollywood, the mayoral position is mostly a ceremonial duty that rotates between the elected members on the City Council.
Duran, 59, did not attend the council meeting because he was in the hospital being treated for blood clots in his legs. However, he issued a statement hours before the vote where quoted Abraham Lincoln, writing, “a house divided against itself – can not stand.” The progressive Democrat, who has been a vocal proponent of “resisting” President Donald J. Trump, maintained his innocence, writing: “Unfortunately, people are now piling on a false narrative that is untrue, misunderstood, and driven by the current mood of the country rather than the rule of law and due process.”
WEHOville reported on Tuesday:
In a regular stream of comments that he has posted on his Facebook page while in the hospital, Duran has said “hell no” to calls for him to step down as mayor of West Hollywood. However, the City Council tonight voted unanimously to rescind a decision earlier this month to extend Duran’s 12-month term as mayor from May to September. That four-month extension was made as part of a process to realign the City Council elections and terms with that of the statewide general election, which next takes place in November 2020.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Councilmember Lindsey P. Horvath, community leaders, residents, and activists demanded that Duran resign from the City Council altogether.
“I have heard firsthand the embarrassment and frustration that people are feeling seeing our city’s name in recurring headlines about sexual harassment,” Horvath told attendees. “I share your embarrassment and frustration.”
“Our city cannot focus on the work of the people when we have to address new and numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, including whether our Mayor used his title to solicit sexual favors.”
Various sexual harassment accusations, including claims that were publicized in a recent Los Angeles Times article, prompted three councilmembers to publicly call on Duran to step down as mayor last week.
Duran, who is also a criminal defense attorney, said that he believes “the bigger issue” at hand has been his lewd public persona which has evolved from decades of activism and legal counsel on behalf of the gay community, including HIV/AIDS issues at a time when most attorneys refused such cases.
“I have never hidden from any of you that I am a fully fledged sexual being,” he wrote on social media last week. “We fought too hard in the 70s and 80s for the right to be, the right to create a gay male subculture, the right to maintain sexuality in the midst of plague and to come out on the other side into marriage equality. To express yourselves sexually just like any other subculture in America. And we explored the lengths of that spectrum from (the) leather community to drag queens.”
“And being sexual does not equal sexual harassment,” Duran continued. “No means NO! But you gotta say ‘no!’ first. I hope that West Hollywood never loses its edge, its sexual appetite, its flirtatiousness, its sexy people, its nightclubs and children of the night.”
“If my colleagues shorten my Mayoral term – so be it. I didn’t wage this fight for 40 years to cower now…”
At a press conference before Tuesday’s meeting, activists from #MeToo March International criticized Duran’s alleged behavior while attempting to tie him to Ed Buck, a white Democratic donor who resides in a rent-controlled apartment in West Hollywood where two black men were found dead of suspected drug overdoses on separate occasions. Duran has previously served as a lawyer for Buck but has not represented him in matters related to those deaths.
The demonstration featured Jasmyne Cannick, a communications strategist who also directs the drive to arrest and prosecute Buck for murder. Duran has received $14,000 in campaign contributions from Buck, according to WEHOville.
Last year, Duran made national headlines after honoring porn actress Stormy Daniels for her “resist” efforts against Mr. Trump and his administration. Duran has gained a reputation for impropriety during his time in public office, including hiring a subordinate at City Hall whom he met on a gay hookup app. The individual went on to sue Duran and the city for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. The case was settled out of court in 2016 for $500,000.
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