Editor’s note: The city of Palm Springs moved to district-based elections in November 2019. Uken Report asked all five Council members if the move to districts is working and what he or she has done to demonstrate leadership in the past six months, especially during the COVID-19 era and especially in his or her district. Following is Lisa Middleton’s response. She still serves the city at large and will seek the District 5 seat in November. The November election will conclude the move to district-based elections.

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The move to Districts is working for the people of Palm Springs.  As a result, we have the most diverse and representative City Council in the history of Palm Springs. The range of our experiences has been particularly evident and important in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.  Grace Garner and Dennis Woods have brought exceptional insight and wisdom to our deliberations.  Our city responded first, our residents and businesses have shown remarkable voluntary cooperation. We as a City Council are accessible and in communication constantly with our residents and our businesses throughout our city.  The restrictions we put in place are working. Our last death was on April 18 and for the past month, the number of new cases has been declining.

The overwhelming majority of issues before the City Council; Public Safety, Public Services, Budgets and Planning are city-wide concerns. I am very proud of my work with ONE-PS and Main Street to ensure we are the most accessible government leaders anywhere. I am also proud of my work as a member of the Budget sub-committee with Mayor Kors. We have an enormous challenge before us. We entered this crisis with a $49 million reserve for what was then a $121 million annual budget. We will need to make very difficult gut-wrenching decisions, but we will endure this and come back stronger than ever.

District 5 which comprises the Southwest part of Palm Springs, is full of diverse and dynamic communities. Local issues that I have been directly involved with include the interaction of downtown with the adjacent Tennis Club neighborhood, the preservation of the golf community and views within the Indian Canyons neighborhood and some of the poorest cell phone coverage in our city throughout the south end of town. Working with local entrepreneurs as well as Council Member Holstege, we are treating cell phone coverage as a public safety issue. Recently, our City Council approved two new south side towers that will be complete before the year-end transforming cell phone service in South Palm Springs.

As a councilmember, one of my focuses has been on transportation issues. I was one of only two elected officials on the expert statewide Department of Transportation “Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force”. The resulting report is now before the legislature and promises to fundamentally change how traffic speed laws are enacted within California. It will give local government significantly greater ability to respond to our local traffic safety concerns. On a personal level, nothing has given me greater joy than to be the City Council Member who worked with our staff to more engage and respond to the needs of the deaf community within Palm Springs.

Image Sources

  • 450x550_lisa-middleton: Lisa Middleton