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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Los Angeles County, CA March 8, 2005 Election
Smart Voter Political Philosophy for John J. Duran

Candidate for
Council Member; City of West Hollywood

This information is provided by the candidate

Fiscal Sustainability

West Hollywood finances are strong and projected to be stable for years to come. This is the result of the hard work of our finance team and under the leadership of our City Manager and our budget subcommittee. As a member of this subcommittee, I pressed hard to maintain spending under control, and to reduce costs and increase revenues.

As a result of this, the City has continued providing high levels of service, even during tough economic times, like the recession and the almost bankruptcy of our State. Our City has since its incorporation been committed to providing social services and support to our residents in addition to fire, police protection, street maintenance and other basic services.

Economic Development

Economic Development issues have been at the center of my tenure in City Council. Local businesses such as restaurants, cleaners, mom and pops shops, and entertainment venues like the House of Blues or renowned hotels like The Mondrian contribute to our City coffers. It is because of their success that our City is able to allocate in excess of 3 million dollars every year into social services. Few people realize that without the financial support we provide to some of this local community based organizations, many seniors would go to bed hungry or would be isolated and alone.

Most recently, our Council approved the development of the West Hollywood Gateway located in the Eastside of town, bringing large tax generators such as Target, Best Buy, Ulta, and great businesses like Zeke's BBQ, Pomodoro, and many more.

Participation in regional issues

In early 2003, I had the honor to be appointed to the Revenue and Taxation Committee of the League of California Cities. The League is the voice of Cities, Counties and Special Districts in Sacramento, and has been instrumental in getting our message of fiscal stability across the minds of our State legislators. The Revenue & Tax Committee, in which I serve, has drafted policy recommendations oriented at protecting local revenues from the ongoing raids from the State. An example of this policy recommendation is Proposition 1A, which appeared in the November 2 ballot and that has been approved overwhelmingly by California voters.

Traffic congestion and the lack of mass transit alternatives, coupled with sprawling have created big problems in our State. To address this, a group of leaders have been meeting to discuss options on how to reshape our communities so that quality of life of our citizens can be improved. Some of these forums, which I had the privilege to be part of our Urban Forum and more locally, the West Side Council of Governments (WCOG), which includes West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Culver City and the Westside districts of the City of Los Angeles. The COG has been instrumental in pushing for more transportation dollars for the Westside and for the expansion of public transportation services.

Fighting for Equality for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People

A lot has changed during the last 20 years in the fight for Gay and Lesbian equality, and much more needs to be done. To continue this fight, I joined the Board of Directors of Equality California (EQCA) in 2001, and continue to serve on the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern California chapter.

I am proud to say that Equality California has been at the forefront of the fight for equality. In 2003, EQCA sponsored AB 2005, the most comprehensive assembly of the last bill that brought us closer to equality, granting same sex partners the right to inherit each other's assets, file joint taxes, adopt children and have most rights afforded to heterosexual couples. The City of West Hollywood, continuing a tradition that started 20 years ago since its incorporation, supports the struggle of our community.

Protecting and Developing Affordable Housing

As population in our State grows, finding affordable housing is a real problem. Highly desirable communities like West Hollywood are not only attracting new residents, but also presenting great opportunities for development. However, in a built out City like ours, development occurs by demolishing existing structures to make room for new ones. The real estate market is obviously quite hot, as interest rates remain low and demand quite high. This has posed a serious dilemma to our Council and decisions must be made to protect not only existing residents, but also to protect private property rights.

Addressing these issues is not an easy task. Some of the recommendations being explored are: increasing density and providing incentives for mixed use housing/commercial projects in major thoroughfares, like Santa Monica Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, etc.; encouraging purchasing of rental units by tenants, and creating incentives for developers to build units of affordable housing in both the low and moderate income brackets.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: February 16, 2005 16:48
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