Duran was elected to the City Council on March 6, 2001. He succeeded outgoing City Council member Paul Koretz who was elected to the California Assembly. He had previously served on the city's Rent Stabilization Commission. Duran has a long history of involvement with the LGBT community.
One of Duran's stated concerns is alcohol and drug recovery in West Hollywood. Duran secured the site for the West Hollywood Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center. Duran also initiated a series of town hall meetings on crystal methamphetamine that has served as a model for other communities impacted by the epidemic.
Duran is currently advocating for the historic preservation of the Sunset Strip and the eventual creation of a Rock 'n' Roll Museum.
An openly gay man, Duran is a founding board member of ANGLE (Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality). Currently, Duran also serves as President of the Board of Directors of Equality California ("EQCA"), an organization that advocates for marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. In addition, Duran is a past board member of the ACLU, Lambda Legal Defense, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Duran has also worked to defend human rights. His legal cases include Kolcum v. Los Angeles County, where he successfully sued Los Angeles County for denying medication to inmates with HIV/AIDS. Duran defended the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center during the medicinal use of marijuana controversy. In 1998 he won the first test case of medicinal marijuana defense since the passage of California's Proposition 215. Other successful cases for Duran include People v. Green where he successfully defended a defendant charged with felony assisted suicide. He also served as legal counsel for ACT UP in the late 1980s, was the trial attorney for the Los Angeles Needle Exchange Program and has defended the first amendment rights of numerous protestors.
Duran was identified as one of the 20 Most Influential Members of the gay community by IN LA Magazine. He is one of the very few HIV-positive elected officials in the United States. Originally a member of the Log Cabin Republicans, he is now a Democrat.
Duran is also known as a strong advocate for the arts. He is a founder of the West Hollywood Chorale, sings in the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and collects paintings and Disney memorabilia. Duran is currently writing a history of the gay rights movement in Southern California.
- Councilmember John J. Duran. City of West Hollywood. Retrieved on 2008-05-31.
- West Hollywood Calls for Impeachment. Speak Out California Weblog (2007-07-22). Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
- Full Biography for John J. Duran. SmartVoter.org (2005-03-08). Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
- The City of West Hollywood to Hold Historic Preservation Celebration at the Sunset Tower Hotel on Wednesday, May 30, 2007. MarketWatch.com (2007-05-29). Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
- QRD 1994 Candidate Profiles: John Duran. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
- Marijuana: West Hollywood Passes "Lowest Priority" Resolution. StopTheDrugWar.org. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
- IN LA magazine
- Scott, Lucile (June 2005). A Positive Campaign. POZ. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
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