INDIO — Lupe Ramos Amith, first elected to the City Council in 2004, is now serving her fourth term as mayor of the largest city in the Coachella Valley. She is the first and only Latina ever elected to the City Council.
She served as mayor from 2007-2008, 2010-2011 and 2014-2015.
Ramos Amith takes on the leadership mantle as two political newcomers – Oscar F. Ortiz and Waymond Fermon – join the City Council. Rounding out the board are Glenn Alan Miller and Elaine Holmes.
As she settles into a familiar role, Uken Report connected with Ramos Amith for a series of questions.
Uken Report (UR): How do you feel about becoming mayor — a year earlier than expected as former Councilmember Troy Strange was supposed to become mayor this year?
Ramos Amith: With each mayoral term, I have felt humbled and honored to represent and lead our city government and residents. Specifically, my 2019 mayorship brings on an energy of excitement, renewed hope and anticipation as we prepare for the new decade — 2020 — which promises to reveal a new generation of growth and a platform for success as we prepare to serve and reach 100,000 residents.
UR: As mayor, you really do take on a leadership role. What is one, or two, of your top priorities?
Ramos Amith: My priority is to lead with fairness and equity and to assure the residents of Indio and my colleagues that their voice is heard. As mayor, an important role is to serve as a conduit that can articulate clearly and synthesize information to the community, the region and within the Council when speaking on behalf of our city. At all times keeping in mind that we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people — regardless of political affiliation, religion or personal life preference.
UR: Is there one top project you want to see either started or completed during your term?
Ramos Amith: Our community public facilities are in need of updating. With the new revenue realized by Measure X, I believe that the city is now poised to plan for our public facility needs that will take us into our 100th anniversary in 2030.
UR: Are there any new initiatives you plan to introduce?
Ramos Amith: I believe that it is important that we reinstate our community outreach town halls and provide opportunities for our residents to provide input on city initiatives. One such initiative that I would like to move forward is a stronger partnership to end homelessness and to relieve our local service providers of the overflow of western Coachella Valley homeless individuals. This year, through our public safety department, we were able to secure $1.9 million toward that effort.
UR: What are your mayoral goals for the coming year?
Ramos Amith: My goal is to serve with grace and dignity, and to strive to work toward solutions-based strategies to any challenge we may face.
UR: Any plans to eliminate the invocation as you did in 2015? Why or why not?
Ramos Amith: The City Council passed a resolution that makes invocation a mandatory part of our government meeting. I alone cannot change this — although I believe this is unfair to the many people of differing religions who attend our government meetings and who have differing religious practices.
UR: You supported Waymond Fermon over your longtime colleague Michael H. Wilson. Why?
Ramos Amith: I, and the residents of Indio, have watched Waymond grow up in Indio and have seen firsthand his passion for our community. I embrace the opportunity to work with this generation of leadership and look forward to hearing the new and innovative ideas he has for Indio. Mr. Wilson made the decision to attack me, without cause, in a non-election year, and for that, I and the residents of Indio cannot forgive his conduct to one of Indio’s longtime public servants.
UR: Anything we missed that you would like to add?
Ramos Amith: I am committed to continue to be a mentor and role model to our newly elected members and to the youth in our community. As the only, ever elected, Latina of the Indio City Council, I remain committed to advancing women’s opportunities in government and providing growth opportunities to the leadership of tomorrow.