From a young age, James Duke Mason has been actively involved in public service and fighting on behalf of the progressive values we believe in. He has exemplified the kind of new, vigorous leadership that we need to seize the opportunities in front of us and address our challenges to create progress and solutions for the future.
An L.A. native whose family has lived in and around West Hollywood for 70 years, he moved to France with his parents as a child. As a teenager he served as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives, and served as the first openly gay president of his international high school’s student council (which earned him a spot on The Advocate Magazine’s 2010 Forty Under 40 list).
After graduation he came back to the U.S. to study political science at California Lutheran University. A year later he moved to West Hollywood so he could focus on grassroots advocacy. In 2011 he was included on OUT Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential LGBT people. In 2012 he was an official surrogate for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign and was invited to the White House after the President’s victory in recognition of his efforts.
From 2012 to 2015 he was on the Board of Directors of OUTFEST, the youngest board member in the organization’s 36-year history. In 2015, at the age of 22, he ran for West Hollywood City Council and achieved a surprisingly strong result in a crowded field of candidates. He was subsequently appointed by Mayor Lindsey Horvath to her 21st Century Leaders Task Force, which aimed to increase millennial involvement in civic affairs. In June of that year he was selected to serve as the special guest grand marshal of the Sacramento Pride Parade.
For two and a half years, Duke served on the Board of Directors of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation. He served for a year as a board officer in the position of Secretary and co-chaired the 2017 WHCHC Gala event (which honored Congressman Adam Schiff) with former City Councilmember Abbe Land. In a city and state where affordable housing is needed now more than ever, Duke was proud to be part of an organization that provides housing for hundreds of people in West Hollywood and the broader L.A. community.
Over the last 3 years he has been a city official on the West Hollywood Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, serving as Co-Chair from 2017 to 2018. There he has gained critical experience in the workings of municipal government and has spoken up on critical challenges that must be addressed by our city, including housing affordability, homelessness, the tough climate for small businesses and aging in place. City government can sometimes be resistant to change, but Duke, as a young, persistent voice of the new generation, has pushed the city to take real action on issues that were previously thought too complex or difficult to solve.
In 2016 he was an official surrogate for the campaign of Hillary Clinton, and in 2017 was one of the founding co-organizers of the L.A. Pride Resist March. The march was organized in lieu of the annual parade as a demonstration of LGBT opposition against Donald Trump, and attracted over 100,000 participants.
Starting at the age of 17 he has worked as a freelance writer for The Huffington Post, The Advocate, OUT, Queerty, The Hollywood Reporter and various other publications. He also has worked as a public relations consultant for entertainment clients as well as for non-profits such as the WeHo-based non-profit organization Mercy For Animals, which is dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals and promoting compassionate food choices and policies.
He is a member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, the West Hollywood/ Beverly Hills Democratic Club, the Stonewall Democratic Club, the Stonewall Young Democrats Club and the Miracle Mile Democratic Club.