All six candidates vying for the three open seats in upcoming Rancho Mirage City Council election were given the opportunity to answer a series of identical questions from Uken Report.
There was no word limit and candidates were told their answers would not be edited.
The candidates’ responses — or lack thereof — are being published in the order their names will appear on the ballot. G. Dana Hobart’s opportunity was Sunday; today, Monday, is Michael Harrington’s.
Following are the questions and his unedited responses.
Uken Report (UR): Exactly why are you running or seeking re-election? Please be specific.
Harrington: I have lived here for 15 years and love our city. Over the last four years or so I have seen a failure in leadership. The council is not doing its job. An incumbent even admitted that they just rely on the city staff reports and forego discussion. At the candidate forum incumbents admitted they have no new ideas, one said we are on the skids. I could rest my case on that as to why we need new leadership. I felt compelled to step up and volunteer my services as a council member. I have a vision, a plan for the first 60 days in office, and the ability to lead.
(1) Increase staffing for police and fire. Work on the Sheriff’s – Rancho Mirage contract to make sure we are getting more bang for the buck so to speak. The Riverside Sheriffs Office must provide more equipment and actual working equipment; we will also address officer morale even if it includes proactively calling on our police chief and sheriff Stan Sniff for answers. Its our city police department and we need to treat it that way. The fire department is understaffed and staff are forced to work at dangerous overtime levels. This is a risk to public safety. We pay the overtime for that , too. New hires will translate into less overtime costs for the city. I will ask both the police and fire for a solution to their understaffing. I will tour police and fire facilities and ask the county to address these needed issues in our police and fire contracts.
(2) I will address stimulus programs and transportation infrastructure for our downtown district near Bob Hope and Highway 111. The River is a private mall. I am looking at the library/observatory, Highway 111 shopping corridor and City Hall as a downtown district with a restaurant row. City transportation can connect this district and create a rejuvenated downtown district. By stimulus programs I mean possible tax cuts or tax sharing agreements to boost business and sales revenue. (I do not agree with giving money to businesses, picking winners and losers, which the current council does – – millions loaned to a hotel).
(3) Adopt city government ethics code. We had an embezzlement scandal and a city council email scandal. A council member and the city attorney refusing to turn over city emails. As well as recent questions raised about a quorum of the council meeting in private to discuss city policy. Consider term limits. Develop a formal plan and formula for handling reserve funds and appropriate size of reserves.
Harrington: I have a business – economics degree from University of California, and 25 years as a business owner and lawyer. I am a trained mediator on the court’s panel. I am endorsed by the big two public safety associations – Riverside Sheriffs’ Association and Cal Fire Local 2881. Our city contracts for police and fire services thru Riverside Sheriffs and Cal Fire. I am the only candidate in this race to have the honor of these coveted endorsements. I have been active in political parties and clubs for years now. I served on the County Board of Behavioral Health and chaired its housing committee ; I served on Rancho Mirage’s Housing Commission. I am active in valley chambers of commerce and attend CVAG and city council meetings to be informed. I already have a job (business owner/law center) and I don’t need this council job ; but I want it because I want to step up and lead our city. Im answering a call to help our city.
UR: How much do you expect to spend on your race? Keep in mind Your financial disclosure statements will be public.
UR: Who is your political role model and why?
Harrington: Harry Truman because he didn’t talk big but he did big. He cared about the average person, he was a bottom up leader, with courage.
UR: What are the three most notable endorsements you have received to date?
Harrington: Riverside Sheriffs’ Association and Cal Fire. CREPAC local realtors board interviewed me and offered a contribution. (A California Real Estate PAC).
UR: Who recruited you, encouraged you to seek re-election or did you decide to run/seek re-election on your own?
Harrington: I spoke at city council about hiring more police , I cited crime rates and encountered bullying from incumbents. I stood up to them but in a respectful and dignified manner. The next day my phone was ringing. Residents asked me to run for council.
UR: What one thing will you specifically do to eliminate the perception, real or imagined, that Rancho Mirage is becoming an isolationist city?
Harrington: Meet with Assemblyman Garcia to implement his plan to expand the Desert Health Care District across the entire Coachella Valley. Currently, this district only serves a small area in the west valley denying health care to the rest of the valley.
UR: Do you consider yourself a liberal, conservative or moderate and what does that mean to you?
Harrington: Conservative. Conservative means to me small government, basic services such as police, fire , roads and infrastructure. Minimal red tape and taxes. Business Friendly. Respect individual rights and equality. Representative democracy and transparency.
UR: Is it appropriate for Rancho Mirage City Council candidates to accept campaign contributions from outside Rancho Mirage and the Coachella Valley?
Harrington: No. I have not accepted any, either.
UR: What is the single biggest challenge facing Rancho Mirage and why? Be specific.
Harrington: Rising public safety costs.
UR: What will you specifically do to address the challenge you just identified?
Harrington: Challenge Sheriff Sniff and his administration team to come up with real solutions for our city police service. Costs are rising, equipment is not working , and deputies are quitting as a result. Negotiate with Cal Fire for “new hires” and reduction of rising overtime costs billed to the city. I will tour Palm Desert Sheriff Station , our fire stations and then hold forums on public safety.
UR: What do you believe is the biggest misconception about you? This is your chance to set the record straight in your own words.
Harrington: The incumbents have spread rumors that I am an agent for CV Link ; that I am only interested in self ambition, and that I only recently became interested in civic affairs. These are manufactured lies by Team Rancho Mirage.
I am not affiliated with CV Link. The current council in fact tried to place CV Link in Rancho Mirage (not me) but failed to negotiate a route or maintenance cost sharing plan . If it were me I would of succeeded in getting what our residents wanted , where the council in fact failed to win what the residents wanted from CVAG. Thats all I meant when I have discussed CV Link routes and costs in the past. CV Link is completely up to the voters, as it should be. As their representative I will do what our voters want regarding CV Link. I said that in the last election, too. Respect the voters.
I have been active in civic matters for years now. Just not formal elected office until more recently.
I am not running out of personal ambition, thats ridiculous. I have achieved a lot in my life- – professionally and personally. I see a need to step up for our city and decided to not wait for someone else to do it but do it myself. Someone once said “we are the change we have been waiting for”. In other words stop waiting for someone else to do it, instead step up and lead.