Five Qualified Candidates Seek 3 Seats on City Council

INDIAN WELLS — Kathy Strong, a travel writer/editor, is among the five qualified candidates hoping to win one of three seats on the City Council in the Nov. 3 election.

In addition to Strong, qualified candidates are: Donna Griffith, Douglas Hanson, Kimberly Muzik and Greg Sanders and Kathy Strong.

Uken Report posed a series of identical questions to all five candidates. Following are Strong’s unedited responses.

Uken Report (UR): Why specifically do you want to be on City Council?

Kathy Strong: Although I have always been involved in the local community over the last three decades in various foundations and charities, I feel it is the perfect time in my life to take a greater role in making a difference. I not only have the time at this point in my life, but I love my city—from its beauty to its residents—and this is my opportunity to give back and ensure that our “paradise” thrives, especially in light of recent setbacks. I feel I can truly make a difference with my knowledge of the valley, tourism and the people who live here.

UR: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment either in or out of office?

Kathy Strong: Personally, I have no greater accomplishment than my two amazing sons who I happily raised here as a single mom. Career wise, there are several accomplishments that will always be dear to me and all of them have one thing in common it seems—my innovative side. I received a Palm Desert Athena Award for entrepreneurship, as well as a Desert Sun award for Excellence in Innovation. Both were given to me for originating two new magazines for our valley. I am the author of 21 travel guidebooks, but I must say my greatest accomplishment was my very first published book in 1982. You never forget that feeling of accomplishment!

UR: How do you define leader and leadership?

Kathy Strong: I think leadership involves really listening to others and being in tune with different points of view. Being a leader is not doing things your own way, but in a way that benefits those whom you are representing. It relies on balancing ideas carefully and creatively approaching conflicts in a manner that is fair and just.

UR: Do you fit this definition?

Kathy Strong: As a new “voice” on the City Council, I feel I can approach conflicts and ideas with a fresh new and creative perspective. The voters wanted new voices on the council this time around and I know that not being a longtime politician will give me that ability to look at things differently—as a resident first. I think continually asking myself what is best for our residents will be my guiding force.

UR: What are your top three goals for Indian Wells?

Kathy Strong: Indian Wells’ number one issue, like most cities in America, is regaining its financial vitality that has been greatly affected by the pandemic. As it is in the entire valley, tourism is Indian Wells’ number one industry. We stand to lose millions due to the pandemic and recovery will take time—well into next year and most likely the following year. Before we can address any other concerns, we must have a strategic plan in place to recuperate and thrive economically. Also, I’m very excited that this coming year marks the beginning of a much-needed General Plan update. It will be a way for us to plan, not just for the coming months, but for the next 5, 10 and 20 years. In this plan, we will be able to look at how to best prepare for unexpected setbacks and form a roadmap for continued and greater prosperity.

Secondly, safety is big in national news, but it is here too. I have heard from several residents with concerns that the financial setbacks will impact Indian Wells’ safety structure. I will not allow that to happen. Feeling safe in our homes and businesses—protecting what we love—is an essential need for all of us. I am not in favor of any cuts to public safety. In fact, I want to create a more fortified safety structure for our residents, their homes and property with a focus on more immediate alerts for safety concerns.

My third priority is to make sure that the quality of life of our residents always comes first. We are a city with many amenities and beauty—the reason we live here. The Indian Wells Golf Resort is a major amenity for our residents, but it is, at the same time, designed to be a business that, at the least, pays for itself. Cost-cutting measures are happening now and more will be explored during the Golf Resort’s own General Plan study happening next year with Troon. I believe a creative look at unused space within the structure itself should be addressed as a priority. In addition, Indian Wells is a city that supports many entities and events generously and, in turn, residents are benefited with tickets and special events. Without adding cost, a needed review of these amenities should happen to determine the best way to reward residents for their on-going support.

UR: COVID-19 has taken a toll on the Coachella Valley’s economy. What specifically will you do to help Indian Wells rebound?

Kathy Strong: As a former staff member/consultant for the Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB,) responsible for marketing all nine cities domestically and internationally, I am thrilled that the city is now working on contract with the CVB. Working in conjunction with the CVB and our business and resort partners, we can strategically bring tourism back to Indian Wells, beginning with an aggressive “drive market” advertising campaign that will target approximately 30 million within driving distance. Our resorts are beginning to re-open and, soon, we will begin to see visitor activity slowly increase. When we can again host major events in surrounding cities and in our world-class Tennis Garden, we will be ready to meet the challenge. Although sidelined by the pandemic, a new resort hotel is also on the horizon.

UR: You are all well-known. What is one thing people don’t know about you?

Kathy Strong: Not too many people know that I began my career working for the CIA—yes, the one in Washington D.C. I was a research analyst on a monthly magazine that went to the Pentagon, State Department, White House and others. I am totally giving my age away to admit it was during one of the most notorious but memorable times in D.C.—Watergate. It was also during the height of the Vietnam War and I primarily worked with Southeast Asia content. I guess you could say I am doing a full circle in my life returning to politics!

UR: Is there one decision with City Council has made with which you strongly disagree? If so, what was it and why?

Kathy Strong: I think the present and past City Councils have made some very wise decisions over the years, from making our city the luxury tourism destination it is today to conservative spending and saving. When things are going well, it is difficult to find fault, but I will say that having a Master Plan—a roadmap for the future, is crucial and it is long overdue. Happily, that will be remedied next year with the new council. This will allow residents to have a big say in the direction of their city for years to come.

UR: Tell us one good thing about each of your opponents.

Kathy Strong: What a great question! My opponents all bring something valuable to the residents. Greg’s planning background would be a plus for the General Plan update, and Donna’s work with the city’s golf committee would be helpful in the General Plan update by Troon on the Golf Resort. Both Doug and Kimberly offer knowledge of the workings of the City and the City Council from their past experience on the City Council.




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