RANCHO MIRAGE — Stephen Jaffe, 74, who has lived in Rancho Mirage since 2019, is challenging Richard Kite and Ted Weill for one of two seats in the April 14 General Municipal Election,

Jaffe, who lists his occupation as lawyer, mediator, advocate for animals and for the mentally ill, is married. He and his wife, Susan, have three adult children, three grandchildren, four parrots and a 14-year-old rescue dog.

Uken Report posed a series of identical questions to all four candidates vying for a seat on the five-member City Council. Maggie Lockridge is the fourth candidate.

Uken Report  (UR): Why specifically are you running?

Jaffe: I am running for City Council because the citizens of Rancho Mirage deserve to have their voices heard in the City Council Chamber.  I will be that voice.  The present City Council members do not listen to their constituents. Instead,  over the strident objections and against best interests of the citizens of Rancho Mirage, they promote special real estate and commercial interests.

UR: Do you think the current City Council is in touch with its residents? If yes, how does it demonstrate that? If  not, how is it out of touch with the community?

Jaffe: Hell no. Please see my answers (below)

UR: Did you support In-N-Out coming to Rancho Mirage? Why or why not? (We know your votes, but this gives you a chance to explain in your own words.)

Jaffe: The In-N-Out controversy is the symptom, not the disease, afflicting the city.  I do not oppose any specific business.  I oppose the manner and legality in which this real estate project was approved by the City, particularly the obvious efforts to conceal the entire process from the citizens of Rancho Mirage.

UR: Name one time (or one issue ) when you rallied support to build a consensus?

Jaffe: I was the author of and the driving force behind the adoption of an anti-dark money resolution at the Democratic County Central Committee of San Francisco.  This required bringing together two contentious and opposing factions in a negotiated compromise. Details available on request.

UR: Two years ago, the City Council was criticized for walking in lockstep and group think. Is that an accurate assessment of the current City Council? If so, why? If not, why not?

Jaffe: ABSOLUTELY  Their unanimous votes and lack of substantive debate are the definitions of “lockstep and group think.”  It appears the City Council is dominated and controlled by one or more individuals who dictate the results on matters voted on by the City Council.

UR: Rancho Mirage has often been referred to as the best-run city in the Coachella Valley.  Do you agree with that assessment?

Jaffe: The City is generally well run by its professional staff.  However, there are many areas where improvements are needed. These include transparency of the governing process, district voting, a study on the effects of unlimited population and business growth,, greater public access and inclusion in City Government and a defined vision for the future of how Rancho Mirage should look 5, 10 and 20 years from now.

UR: Do you support moving Rancho Mirage to district-based elections? Why or why not?

Jaffe: ABSOLUTELY. We are a representative democracy. The present City Council is made up of people with almost identical backgrounds, ages,  political mindsets and economic status.  There should be 5 districts in Rancho Mirage, each represented by a single City Council member.  Only in that way can large parts of the residents who presently have no representation on the City Council, have their voices heard.  Further, if there were 5 districts, each Council member would be accountable to 2,400 voters (based on an estimated 12,000 full time residents), which would dramatically increase the residents’ access to their City Council representative.Jaffe

UR: With what issue do you want your name associated more than any other?

Jaffe: Transparency in government, i.e., no more back room secret and semi-secret land use deals.  My most important personal values are integrity and kindness.

UR: How much do you plan to spend on your campaign? (Your financial disclosure statements will be public record.)

Jaffe: I do not yet have an accurate answer.  I am presently preparing a budget.


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