Opinion: We Need Experience and New Energy and Ideas to Improve Safety

Every City Council candidate will tell you that public safety is an issue of top concern to them. The real question, however, is who actually has the experience, as well as the new energy and ideas, to make a real difference?

I come to this issue on a deeply personal level. As a gay man who started patronizing the gay bars and clubs on the west side of our city at a young age, I always loved the feeling of West Hollywood being a sanctuary where I could have fun while feeling safe and protected. West Hollywood has always been known as a safe space for our LGBTQ community, and it’s critical that continues.

I also know, through my role as a member and former co-chair of the West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, how concerned people feel about the violent incidents that have occurred in recent months and years, particularly on the streets around and above the bars on the west side on Santa Monica Boulevard. There have been hate crimes, as well as robberies and random assaults, that have no place in our city. That’s why I’ve been endorsed by Equality California, because they understand my commitment to protecting our LGBTQ community is strong and unwavering.

I will work with the Sheriff’s Department to increase foot patrols at night around our LGBTQ bars, as well as our rock n’ roll bars and clubs on Sunset Boulevard, so that no one ever feels like they are in danger. The area, however, that in my mind has gotten nowhere near the amount of attention that it deserves is our city’s Eastside.

As someone who served on the board of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation which has had several projects on the Eastside in recent years, I am particularly attuned to some of the problems this area has faced when it comes to crime and homelessness. We’ve had a lot of rapidly increasing development take place on the Eastside, yet haven’t seen an increase in the amount of attention and resources from law enforcement to address some of the unintended consequences — boarded up homes waiting for demolition where transients are living, for instance.

I will make it a top priority to work with the Sheriff’s Department to increase the overall presence of law enforcement in the area. Not only foot and bicycle patrols, but a satellite sub-station that deputies can use. I’ve heard some say that there aren’t enough resources or that there aren’t enough deputies in order to do this, but to me these are excuses that to me are unacceptable and must be overcome.

We must do whatever it takes to protect our residents– from the families who take their kids to Plummer Park to the people who patronize businesses like McDonalds on LaBrea who are constantly having to contend with random disruptive incidents in the parking lot as well as inside the restaurant. We need to also install more residential sidewalk street lighting throughout all the interior neighborhoods on the Eastside.

Separately from the crime issue, there is also the issue of pedestrian safety, which is of great concern to many. Although I support the Council’s recent action to incorporate more crosswalks along Fountain Avenue, these crosswalks will not be effective unless there are more stop lights that slow down the speed of traffic. Fountain is a street that is mainly zoned as residential; it is not meant to be a quick passthrough for people racing through town.

That’s why I’m proud to have the endorsement of Councilmember John Heilman as well as the chair of the West Hollywood Public Safety Commission, Jeffrey Waack. I’m running because I want to be your neighborhood public safety advocate on the City Council.

  1. Wow, the vitriol against almost everyone is quite astonishing. I am someone with a very similar background as Mason. I was extremely precocious, beginning my entrepreneurial journey at 14, joining boards & serving my then city starting when I was 19. I also come from an extremely wealthy family and was raised in a life of privilege.

    Just like Mr. Mason, I too was subject to similar attacks with regard to my inexperience. The fact that I also enjoyed the wonderful world of gay nightlife led to even greater controversy This is in spite of the well documented facts that I not drink until after I decided that that path was not for me and to this day have never consumed any illicit substances to this day.

    My point is, we should hear him out and judge him by his positions and not his age. I would really like the opportunity to attend a public campaign event in which he can make his views clear & speak with voters.

  2. I find the personal attacks on Mr. Mason’s station in life distasteful and crude. Have a disagreement on policy issues from here to the moon, but nothing in his background precludes him from wanting to serve at any level. The only qualification for running for this office is a desire to serve and do the work. All else is entirely irrelevant, although many will attempt to manufacture qualifications, such as service on this commission or that commission, or attendance at loads and loads of council meetings.

    I normally try to avoid dignifying anonymity with further comment, but I suspect such drivel will continue on this thread.

    Let’s focus on ideas and policies and fixing problems.

    1. Having once had a real job or paid a bill is a low bar for entry to office.

      We’re not talking about wild, arbitrary qualifications. Would you trust a doctor or pilot with no experience because s/he “had a desire to serve” you? No, you wouldn’t. And you should look for experience and qualification in your elected officials as well. I require some life experience in anyone I vote for. And it can be a wide range. But when someone has grown up in a life of wealth and privilege, and hasn’t worked beyond that, I don’t think that they can necessarily understand where many of us are or came from. It’s nice to hear the “of the people” rhetoric, but “of the people” he is not.

      Dee Dee

      1. I fear that the publishers will not allow this to devolve into a back and forth, but for what it’s worth, I’ll attempt it. There are no “skills” per se, to running for and holding public office, unlike flying a plane or performing surgery. There are very few statutory qualifications for most offices. Indeed, there are zero qualifications to being a justice of the Supreme Court, no, not even being a lawyer. In fact, in the state of California, one can become an attorney without having attended law school. Perhaps one can “think” that they know what is in another’s heart or intellect or motivations, but that is merely conjecture. I’ll make my decisions on whom to vote for based on their policy stands, and not some arbitrary qualifications such as educational background. Harry Truman was a men’s clothier who did not attend college at all, and he became president. Privilege of any type is not a disqualifier for those who want to be in public service. Silliness.

        1. Here, Here! Abraham Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer, legislator.
          James Duke Mason is the right candidate that is the right candidate and ready to focus on ideas and policies and fixing problem.

        2. I completely disagree. I feel like this was written by his campaign manager and or a lawyer. Splitting hairs. You can totally expect your electeds to have experience. How silly to say otherwise!

        3. Unfortunately the “facts” offered regarding Harry Truman’s education are not correct. He took a circuitous route through an untypical educational process and was posthumously awarded a law degree. It would seem to evidence that he possessed some critical thinking. He also became President after serving as VP.

  3. I’m wondering if you care so much about public safety, then why do not never attend the public safety commission meetings?

  4. Duke, please get an actual job or go to college first, before you try to become an elected official. You need more experience in life before you can start making decisions that will affect the lives of tens of thousands of people who are working and paying the bills, etc. I didn’t grow up with a trust fund or family money, and I busted my butt to buy my little nest egg in West Hollywood. I am going to live in WeHo for the rest of my life. I can’t fathom putting the future of my city in the hands of a kid who really has no life experience, except for a few volunteer positions. I commend your spirit, but at 26, I had a job, because I had to have one—and that’s an experience I just don’t think you can relate to.

  5. Just a few years ago Duke was railing against Heilman ‘time for him to go’ a new generation of leadership, then he sold out and now uses the oldest generation of leadership tag while he touts a new generation of leadership label. Yawn. His big role on the housing corp was a meeting a month for two years and then he resigned. He has basically accomplished nothing on his own and offered no new ideas for our future.

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