Incumbents on the Rancho Mirage City Council are under siege as potential candidates queue up with fierce intentions of ousting the veteran policymakers.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, eight Rancho Mirage residents have pulled official paperwork indicating they will make a run for one of the three seats up for grabs in the April election. The deadline to pull nomination papers is 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12.
All three incumbents — G. Dana Hobart, Iris Smotrich and Charles Townsend Vinci and Katherine “Kate” R. Spates – have already qualified to be on the ballot, City Clerk Kristie Ramos confirmed. Only one of the remaining four possible challengers – Michael Harrington — has filed his paperwork. He has not yet qualified to be on the ballot.
Those who have pulled nomination papers are; Harrington, Michael Andrew Monroe, Robert Mueller, and Brandon Joseph Ross.
The top three vote-getters will be declared winners. There will be no runoff, Ramos said Wednesday.
Challengers say the incumbents have been in office too long and it is time for new blood. Among them, the incumbents have more than 25 years of service and institutional knowledge. Hobart, first elected in 2002, is the longest serving of the three incumbents facing re-election — and also the most vocal.
Townsend was elected to the Rancho Mirage City Council in 2014. Smotrich was first appointed by the Rancho Mirage City Council on July 7, 2011. In 2012, she ran unopposed and was reappointed by the City Council to serve for a two-year term. In 2014, she ran for office and won.
One of the central issues of the upcoming campaign is likely to be the CV Link and the City Council’s opposition to it.
While the City Council has a whole has opposed the controversial CV Link, Hobart has been the “face” and the “voice” of the opposition, taking the brunt of criticism for the entire City Council. Uken Report last year reached out to mayors across the Coachella Valley for reaction to a lawsuit that threatens to halt the CV Link. Mayor Townsend declined to comment, referring all questions about the CV Link instead to Hobart.
The City Council supports the lawsuit, saying it has merit. The basis of the lawsuit alleges that illegal money is being used to pay for 50-mile transportation corridor.
Hobart has called the proposed $100 million,project in the Coachella Valley “a 20-to-30-foot-wide cement, steel and decomposed granite structure ….”
Indio Mayor Michael Wilson, one of the most vocal supporters of the CV Link, has said there is more to it than that. “I believe it to be more in line with the elitist attitude of a couple of cities not wanting ‘certain elements’ of people from the East Valley passing through their jurisdictions using this pathway. It’s a sad reality but in my own opinion, more true than not,” Wilson told Uken Report.
The seats open in the upcoming election are four-year terms.
The mayor is appointed every year on a rotational basis by the City Council; if re-elected, Hobart is poised to become the next mayor.
Would-be candidates must be 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and a registered voter residing within city limits at the time nomination papers are issued.
To schedule an appointment to “pull papers,” please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (760) 324-4511, Ext. 488.
There is no cost to receive and/or file nomination papers.
As of Dec. 12, the City of Rancho Mirage has 9,886 registered voters, according to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters. The last day to register to vote or transfer registration for the April 10, 2018 election is March 26, 2018.