Rancho Mirage City Council Member Michael O’Keefe Announces His Election Campaign

RANCHO MIRAGE — Now there are at least three people running for the City Council in November. All are men. One is a political newcomer while two are incumbents. Current Councilmember Michael O’Keefe, 73, has announced his election campaign. O’Keefe and his husband Jim Hehn have lived in the Coachella Valley for 24 years, moving to Del Webb Rancho Mirage in 2019.

Others who have announced campaigns are Veteran, community leader, Councilmember, and former Mayor Ted Weill, 89. He has served on the City Council since 2012 and is a 26-year resident of the city.

Wayne Avrashow, 73, a newcomer to this city, announced that he also will seek a seat in the November election for a seat on the Rancho Mirage City Council. His theme is “Preserve, Protect, and Improve Rancho Mirage.”

The seats up for grabs are currently held by Weill and O’Keefe. They are both 4-year terms and are elected at large, according to City Clerk Kristie Ramos.

When Mayor Richard Kite resigned in 2023, O’Keefe was selected from 11 candidates to fill the remainder of Kite’s term based on his long-standing service to the city. This appointment process saved $114k in taxpayer funds required to hold a special election.

“Serving on your City Council has been the honor of a lifetime; it has allowed me to use the skills I developed while volunteering for charities and City government,” O’Keefe said in a statement. “I am committed to preserving the cultural and architectural history of Rancho Mirage while working towards a secure future for our city.”

O’Keefe said he will strive to enhance the quality of life in Rancho Mirage by

  • Protecting the financial health of the city
  • Promoting tourism and local businesses in partnership with the amazing Chamber of Commerce
  • Advocating for conscientious growth
  • Supporting the best public works and public safety departments in the Coachella Valley, if not all of California

O’Keefe has been endorsed by Mayor Steve Downs, Mayor Pro Tem Ted Weill, Councilmembers Lynn Mallotto and Meg Marker, and former Councilmember Richard Kite.

After moving to the Coachella Valley full-time in 1998, O’Keefe began a new phase of volunteering. He donated time and resources to the Desert AIDS Project, the Betty Ford Clinic, and Eisenhower Health.

He was elected president of Caballeros, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Palm Springs, and Chair of the Board of the Western Art Council at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

While living in Desert Hot Springs, Michael was appointed to the Community and Cultural Commission. He became active in city government, serving on the Economic Development Committee, the Parks and Trails Committee, and the Redevelopment Successor Agency. Michael served as Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, on the board of Food Now, and was elected as the President of Cabot’s Museum Foundation. He worked closely with the City Council and City manager, learning firsthand the challenges and opportunities of being a City Council Member.

In 2009, Michael O’Keefe was named Coachella Valley Volunteer of the Year on National Philanthropy Day. He served on the Rancho Mirage Cultural Commission before being appointed to City Council.

Michael is also currently serving on the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission, the Board of the Children’s Discovery Museum, the Palm Springs Unified School District Committee, and as an alternate to the Bighorn Institute.

Image Sources

  • 2024-Michael-O’Keefe-v1–800×568 (1): ichael O'Keefe campaign