PALM DESERT — Kenneth Doran, a political newcomer is seeking one of two seats now held by incumbents on the Palm Desert City Council.
At 58, Doran is retired. He has called the Coachella Valley home for more than 25 years, residing in Palm Desert for 15 of those years.
Through the years, Doran said he has gained extensive knowledge and insight into the activities and challenges confronting the city of Palm Desert and the various joint power authorities in which the city participates as a member.
Doran is one of five qualified candidates vying for two, four-year terms on the City Council in November. The others are:
- Sabby Jonathan, incumbent, Certified Public Accountant
- Jan Harnik, incumbent, City Councilwoman and businesswoman
- Carlos Pineda
- Matt Monica, challenger, retired educator
Following is a series of questions Uken Report posed to Doran and his responses:
Uken Report UR: Are you liberal or conservative and what does that mean?
Doran: I am registered as an independent as the other parties to not truly encompass all of my political views. Moreover, the titles do not mean much at the local government level. The focus of local government administration is public safety, planning and economic development as well as guiding the development and esthetic beauty of the city.
UR: Why specifically are you running?
Doran: Economic Development:
I will take a leadership role and provide professional oversight in the attraction of a hotel for the Desert Willow golf course so transient occupancy tax will be generated for the city to begin to realize its return on investment. Moreover, I would like to identify the business goods/ services desired by Palm Desert residents that currently does not exist but which data supports the proposition the business would be successful. Hence, I would like to adopt a more strategic approach in attracting new business and expand current businesses within the city.
The redevelopment of the Highway 111 corridor has always been a difficult project to be undertaken as it contains so many complexities. Nonetheless, I would take a leadership role to bring all the principles together to devise a comprehensive specific plan in collaboration with the community to produce a project that exemplifies the image of Palm Desert.
Economic Development transcends city boundaries as the primary and secondary economic impacts of dollars can be earned and spent in different Coachella Valley cities. Therefore, I believe it is important for the city of Palm Desert to participate in regional economic development efforts to attract businesses and clean industries to the Coachella Valley that will offer good wages and benefits for Palm Desert residents. Such efforts will assist in diversifying the local economy, which will provide greater economic stability and prevent significate housing price variations that we have experienced in the past.
Doran: Community Building:
The goal of community building is to engage Palm Desert residents as to current public policy issues and to devise methods by which residents can communicate their concerns to city officials. I believe through effective communication between city officials and residents, apathy can be reduced and civic participation can be increased with a sense of ownership in the public policy process being conveyed.
Utilizing existing technology (e.g., city web site) and through surveys and other research techniques to define the needs of city residents needs and find the pulse of the community. While many cities televise their council meetings as the primary communication method, I believe those meetings should be used to validate whether the issues/ concerns of the community are being addressed as opposed to the being the primary communication method. Moreover, I will advocate putting streamline videos of advisory committee meetings on the city website so residents can view them at their leisure. Through community building efforts, greater community participation as well as greater city communication and transparency can be achieved; thereby, insuring city residents the highest level of ethical and professional conduct is being observed in the operation of city services and responsibility.
Doran: Law Enforcement Services:
The cost of law enforcement services are continuing to increase at levels that are not sustainable. I would like to work with fellow council members in developing a long-term funding solution or explore the possibility of creating a Cove Community police department with our neighboring cities: Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells.
Doran: Coachella Valley Commission on Ethics and Public Policy:
The Ethics Resource Center published their “2007 National Government Ethics Survey.” Government employees were surveyed regarding their observations of ethical misconduct or violations of law by elected officials, management and fellow employees in the workplace. The survey concluded “[m]ore local government employees witness misconduct than employees at any other levels of government and local leadership is less likely to be aware of wrongdoing when it does happen. Reporting of violations is lowest at the local government level; this is not surprising given that one in five employees who is courageous enough to blow the whistle experience retaliation as a result. Pressure to compromise standards is also thirty-eight percent higher in these agencies than the U.S average. However, as the survey indicates, “[w]hen both a well-implemented ethics and compliance program and a strong ethical culture are in place within the government agency, misconduct drops by sixty percent, and reporting rises by forty percent. Government’ risk of losing public trust can be mitigated.”
I am aware of the need to establish the Coachella Valley Commission on Ethics and Public Policy. A few years ago I filed a lawsuit against the city for not following proper procedures in the hiring process. I felt giving the Tourism and Marketing Manager with a salary of $130,000/ yr. to someone who did not possess a college degree or experience in marketing the job was not in accordance with Palm Desert Municipal Code or serving the best interest of Palm Desert citizens. As a result of my actions, changes in personnel have occurred.
UR: What is the single biggest issue facing Palm Desert, why and what are you doing – or will you do – to correct it?
Doran: The cost of law enforcement services are continuing to increase at levels that are not sustainable. I would like to work with fellow council members in developing a long-term funding solution or explore the possibility of creating a Cove Community police department with our neighboring cities: Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells.
The solution is through the city’s economic development efforts in the attraction of new hotels and businesses to build upon the transient occupancy tax and sales tax the city collects.
UR: Where (in what area) do you think you can make the biggest difference?
I have over eight years professional staff experience working in local government agencies in the areas of economic development, environmental planning and administration. I have acquired a broad skill set to include project/ program development, management and evaluation, intergovernmental administration and financial analysis.
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California, Riverside and a Master of Public Administration degree from California State University, San Bernardino.