Katherine “Kate” Spates is the last of the six Rancho Mirage City Council candidates to have the opportunity to be profiled on Uken Report.
All candidates received identical questions. They were not confined to a specified word limit and all were assured their responses would not be edited or shortened for space.
Uken Report (UR): Exactly why are you running or seeking re-election? Please be specific.
Katherine “Kate” Spates (KS): I began my professional career at JW Marriott Desert Springs, where I worked in accounting and management for nine years. At age 28 I ventured out on my own and started a website design business, and became a pioneer in digital marketing in the Coachella Valley. I was honored to be named “Small Business of the Year” by John Benoit. Now, at age 50, I am excited to use my experience and leadership skills to give back to my community by entering into public service.
UR: What quality do you have that you believe your opponents do not? In other words, what sets you apart?
KS: I have learned to collaborate with people from every city in our valley — people of all ages, races, backgrounds, sexual orientations and political affiliations. I am known for being a level-headed, thoughtful leader, who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. It’s my belief that we are all neighbors, and we must respect and be civil toward one another.
I have a lifetime love and understanding of the demographics and needs of the Coachella Valley. For 20 years, I have worked with a wide variety of businesses and organizations in the valley. I’ve been involved with leadership groups and organizations that focus on improving quality life. Anyone who has worked with me knows that I’m a collaborator and a good listener. I enjoy working through issues and solving problems in a open, productive environment where everyone has a voice.
UR: How much do you expect to spend on your race? Keep in mind Your financial disclosure statements will be public.
KS: According to my filing dated March 1, 2018, we have raised over $33,000 so far.
UR: Who is your political role model and why?
KS: Condoleezza Rice, because against the odds, she invested in her education and became indispensable to President Bush and now, is back at Stanford educating others. I heard her speak and was so inspired. I would love for her to be our first female President.
UR: What are the three most notable endorsements you have received to date?
KS: I’m proud to have the endorsements from five of our valley mayors, but also so delighted to have the support of notable Rancho Mirage residents and business professionals such as Todd Blue from Indigo Auto Group and Vincent Battaglia from Renova Energy who has been a friend and previous client. Although not an endorsement, I was lucky enough to meet Barbara Boxer at one of my recent private meet and greets. She was encouraging and inspiring with her advice.
UR: Who recruited you, encouraged you to seek election/re-election or did you decide to run/seek re-election on your own?
KS: I have been encouraged for the past 15 years to enter into public service by a number of women leaders and people who have served with me on boards of directors. I have listened to the grumblings of residents and business owners who are frustrated with our current leadership and after much discussion and thought, I decided that now is the right time for me to step up and serve my community.
UR: What one thing will you specifically do to eliminate the perception, real or imagined, that Rancho Mirage is becoming an isolationist city?
KS: I will serve with an absolute open mind and will seek to understand all that has happened to get the city where it is today. I will listen to leaders in our surrounding cities and regional organizations to determine how we can best work together and still protect the interests of Rancho Mirage and everything that makes the city special.
UR: Do you consider yourself a liberal, conservative or moderate and what does that mean to you?
KS: I consider myself a “centrist”. I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
UR: Is it appropriate for Rancho Mirage City Council candidates to accept campaign contributions from outside Rancho Mirage and the Coachella Valley?
KS: I don’t see any issue with accepting support from anyone, anywhere. Some of my contributions are from friends outside of the area. Most of these people are old friends or colleagues who have experienced my effectiveness as a leader.
UR: What is the single biggest challenge facing Rancho Mirage and why? Be specific.
KS: I believe the residents of Rancho Mirage have been misinformed about numerous topics by our City Council in an effort for them to retain control and cause unwarranted fear. This misinformation ends up getting dispersed among the public and it fuels negativity and confusion. I want to do my part to open the lines of communication, increase transparency and unify our residents.
UR: What will you specifically do to address the challenge you just identified?
KS: There is a small group of people who are very involved on commissions and are doing good things, but there are many others who want to get involved, but they are not part of the “clique” and are dismissed and sometimes not even interviewed. This is not democracy. This is not unifying. It’s good to have opinions and discussion, debate and dissent. It breeds the best ideas and the most thorough decisions because all differing opinions are represented. I would openly search for residents to participate and become involved.
UR: What do you believe is the biggest misconception about you? This is your chance to set the record straight in your own words.
KS: As a “newcomer” to politics or government, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m not qualified to lead. Everyone that is elected for the first time is inexperienced. My 25 years of experience in management, owning my own business, and serving on multiple board of directors should demonstrate my abilities to lead and make decisions. I appreciate the loyalty many residents have for the incumbents and I certainly understand that our city is in pretty good shape, but the excessive gloating about the city’s success is contrived. It’s my belief that a ship cannot sail with the captain alone, especially in rough waters. I believe the entire city team deserves the credit for a well-run city, not just the City Council.