RANCHO MIRAGE — A candidate forum set for March 30 in advance of the April 14 City Council election has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic— and one of the challengers is crying foul.

Stephen Jaffe, one of two challengers to incumbents Richard Kite and Ted Weill, asked for a televised forum with no audience, similar to the CNN debate with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders where there was no audience.

The Advocacy Committee talked about possible options, including whether to broadcast it on Rancho Mirage TV at the library with no audience, or have email questions and answers, Katie Stice, president and CEO of the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce told Uken Report.

“They (the committee) chose to cancel altogether,” Stice said. “The library is still closed and just isn’t an option any longer.”

Additionally, Stice said, Chamber staff is working from home to help businesses that can remain open do so.

“We are also working with others on how unemployment or SBA loans work,” Stice said. “We have a skeleton crew and we are doing the best we can at our core mission of smal- business support, education and preparedness in an emergency situation. This is priority indeed.”

The committee’s decision was emailed to all candidates and all understood except for one person, Stice said. “I cannot override my Advocacy Committee’s decision and we are laser-focused on supporting our business every single day.”

Stephen Jaffe, one of the challengers, said the lack of a public candidate forum is a “negative event for my campaign and very helpful to the incumbents.”

Jaffe alleged that, “The Chamber is in Kite’s and Weill’s pockets and the whole thing was rigged from the beginning.”

Maggie Lockridge, also a challenger, took cancellation of the candidate forum in stride.

“I have done all I can at this point, it’s up to the people to research for themselves,” Lockridge told Uken Report.

About 11,393 vote-by-mail ballots are being mailed to voters for the city of Rancho Mirage general municipal mail ballot election on April 14.

To be counted, completed ballots must be received at the Registrar of Voters office no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, or be postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than three days after Election Day.

Vote-by-mail ballots can be returned through the postal service or deposited in vote-by-mail drop-off boxes located at the Rancho Mirage City Clerk’s office or the Registrar of Voters office.

Early voting at the Registrar of Voters office is underway  and continues Monday through Friday (excluding county holidays), from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The April 14 election encompasses all of the city of Rancho Mirage and is not a countywide election.  It is also an all-mail ballot election, so there will be no established polling places. If you have any questions about your eligibility to vote, please contact the registrar’s office at (951) 486-7200.

Image Sources

  • Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce: Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce