Local News West Hollywood

Council colleagues call for Duran to step down as mayor

WEST HOLLYWOOD — A coalition of sexual assault survivors and LGBTQ advocacy organizations — including #MeToo March International, Black Lives Matter and Justice4Gemmel and All of Ed Buck’s Victims — called on Mayor John Duran to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment against Duran by members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

The call for Duran’s resignation Feb. 19 at a rally outside City Hall, came a week after three of Duran’s City Council colleagues called for him to step down as mayor in wake of the allegations.

Duran so far as refused to step down as mayor, a largely ceremonial position in West Hollywood and other general law cities where the mayor’s position is filled by a different member of the City Council every year.

The three City Council members, Lindsey Horvath, Lauren Meister and John A’mico, all took to Facebook to make statements that said the accusations against Duran were divisive and that Duran should step down as mayor so the council could focus on other issues.

All three are facing re-election March 5.

Duran was re-elected to his fifth term on the City Council in March 2017.

Three members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los angeles told the Los Angeles Times they left the chorus after inappropriate touching or comments by Duran, who has served as the chairman of the board of the chorus for 20 years. Duran has announced he would be leaving as chairman of the chorus at the end of the season but said that decision had nothing to do with the allegations.

“Look, I am a creature of the sexual liberation of the 1970s,” Duran told The Times. “I have never hidden that about myself. I live out loud. I’m very colorful. I’m very flamboyant. I’m very sexual. I know all these things.

“Somebody I am not is somebody who would assault somebody. That’s a crime.”

Duran has been accused of sexual misconduct previously. In 2016, the city paid $500,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Duran and the city.

The suit was filed by Ian Owens who worked as a deputy for Duran after meeting the councilman through a gay dating app. Neither Duran nor the city admitted guilt in the settlement.

In her Facebook statement, Horvath wrote that the 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. It is not fair to the people of this city to continue seeing ‘West Hollywood’ in the same sentence as these allegations.”

City Attorney Mike Jenkins said state law does not allow council members to remove a colleague. They could vote to remove Duran as mayor, censure him, cancel his travel budget or remove him from any boards or agencies he may serve on through his position as a West Hollywood city councilman.