Rancho Mirage Forward Seeks Candidate(s) to Challenge Incumbents in 2022

RANCHO MIRAGE – A newly formed group in this community, Rancho Mirage Forward, has struck a raw nerve among members of the City Council who are reluctant to change, adverse to new ideas and resistant to constructive criticism.

Councilmember Charles Townsend sardonically referred to the group as a “new assemblage” and questioned its motives. Councilmember Iris Smotrich said residents have told her they have a “perfect” city, suggesting changes and new ways of doing business are not necessary.

The mere formation of the group brought out the worst in some councilmembers, some of whom became defensive, rude, condescending and more.

Townsend mocked the group and its name saying the current City Council moves Rancho Mirage forward every single day. He further accused the group of watching out for its own special interests.

Rancho Mirage Forward initially raised Councilors’ hackles when Kate Spates, a longtime successful Coachella Valley entrepreneur, initiated a petition on Change.org to change both the time of City Council meetings and the date of the election. The petition currently has 397 signatures.

Spates, who earned a record number of endorsements from throughout the Valley when she ran for City Council in 2018, told Uken Report that she is the only one willing to speak out for this group as some are concerned about retaliation. Some members have to cooperate with the City Council in one way or another, Spates said.

Spates, who in 2018 was named one of the Ten Most Interesting & Influential Women of the Coachella Valley, is intelligent and well-spoken, yet members of the City Council mock her, talk down to her and at least one – Townsend – repeatedly referred to her as “this woman,” “this lady,” “this person,” never once giving her the respect of calling her by name.

You can watch Townsend for yourself here. The video is not clipped so watch as long as you want.

Rancho Mirage Forward has its own website and is transparent in its mission.

Rancho Mirage Forward wants changes in Rancho Mirage, including:

  • SIGN THE PETITION – Moving City Council meetings to 5 p.m. or later, so working people can participate.
  • Synching local elections with federal elections, so more people vote.
  • Adding districting to be more representative of the diversity of the city.
  • Taking a thoughtful approach to transportation in the city, and planning for the future.
  • Working more closely with other Coachella Valley cities in areas that improve residents’ lives.

The group is comprised of Rancho Mirage residents and a few other community members, who are looking to the future beyond the current City Council, who are tired of the “old guard constantly patting themselves on the back” for the state of the city, Spates said.

Rancho Mirage Forward Makes City Council Defensive

Kate Spates

“We are looking for a candidate or two that we can help run in the next election,” Spates said. “How can anyone who works participate in Council meetings — we are not hearing from residents who work. And ‘Why special elections?’ if it’s truly about voter participation, wouldn’t they want to align with November elections? It seemed nefarious — as if the current Council knows they can activate 3,000 some odd votes in their favor, but they might not be able to control if the participation was greater. With (Councilmember Dana) Hobart approaching 90 years old, we wonder if he might resign so he can control who they appoint (one of their cronies) and then run that appointed member as an incumbent.”

It’s bad business to not listen to all residents and to not look to future generations, Spates said, adding the group has nothing personal against these folks.

Then with full candor, she adds, “Well, maybe I do a little, with good reason for the way they have treated me. I’ve never been so insulted in my life as I was when I ran in 2018. In my 40 years living in the desert, over 25 of them have been deeply involved in the business community and advancing non-profits. I’ve been invited to sit on some of the most prestigious boards in our valley because the organizations see me as a logical leader with good marketing & communications skills. When I ran in 2018, I was very pleased with the positive support I received, we raised a lot of money, quite easily, because so many wanted change. I wasn’t prepared for the insulting comments and lies the Council said about me, calling me a carpetbagger, saying I was a puppet for my boyfriend, that he paid for me to live in Rancho Mirage. All lies. They had no idea who I was and they weren’t willing to even try to find out.”

If this City Council is so concerned about seeing the projects that they have started all the way through, then they would start grooming the next generation of leaders to ensure that happens,” Spates said.

“They have done their time, served their city well and it’s time for them to let go,” Spates said. “Again, I am not saying I am prepared to run again. In fact, at the moment, the prospect of serving alongside some of these folks sounds like torture, the way they behave. I expect more from leaders. There are plenty of fantastic examples of leaders throughout the valley that I have had the pleasure of working alongside. I live in Rancho Mirage and I love my city. I would have loved to make a difference serving as a Council member, but I have found plenty of other ways I can still make a difference. One of them is to bring to light the current Council’s bad behavior in hopes it will spark change.”

Nine members of Rancho Mirage Forward regularly meet on zoom. However, Spates said she has been contacted by other groups who are currently suing the city that also would like to support finding new candidates.

“So, our group is much stronger than just the nine of us who lead it,” Spates said. “We … will continue to expose cronyism, hypocrisy and misinformation as we see it happen. When the Council openly claims they are ‘perfect,’ it’s an open invitation to illustrate how they are not.”

Sign the petition here.

View the group’s website here.

View the group’s first video here.

Image Sources

  • Kate Spates: Kate Spates
  • Rancho Mirage: Shutterstock