Rancho Mirage Mayor Stands by City Council on Transparency Issue [Opinion]

Over a great many years, the residents of Rancho Mirage have consistently elected Councilmembers who have reliably delivered on a promise originally made by the first Mayor of our city.  More than 50 years ago on Aug. 3, 1973, at the very first council meeting of the city of Rancho Mirage, Mayor William Rawitzer said the new City Council was devoted to making Rancho Mirage “a city that will be known nationwide for gracious living and distinctive development.”

The sentiment expressed by our first Mayor rings true through the decades since the birth of our city.  It infuses and inspires City Councilmembers with that same dedication to the core values that guide us today.  The values of good governance, strong city management, solid fiscal controls, commitment to public safety, a best-in-class approach to planning and public works, and a wide range of resident amenities.  The residents of Rancho Mirage have come to rely on a tradition of excellence in our City Council and, along with my council colleagues, I am proud to serve the people of our city and to preserve those values.

Not everyone feels the same and on Feb. 25 of this year, an opinion article claimed to expose a problem in Rancho Mirage.  The article was written by a man who, according to public records, was not registered to vote in Rancho Mirage until Jan. 30, and purchased his first home in our city in February of 2024.  Wayne Avrashow is brand new to our city – so – he may not have taken the time to fully understand our tradition of excellence, our stability, or our legacy.  He goes so far as to suggest that “my hometown’s council is notorious for its … decision making that disrespects our residents.” Forgive me for having trouble with the reference to “hometown” from someone who may not have lived in Rancho Mirage when he wrote that sentence.

In the article, Mr. Avrashow claims that Council lacks transparency because we failed to appoint someone, who would commit to not running in the following November election, to a vacant Council seat. (The vacancy was created in November 2022.)  Here are the facts:

  • Filers who run for election are not required to abide by artificial restrictions such as agreement that they will not run in a future election.  Consequently, it is not appropriate to enforce such artificial restrictions on those who apply to fill the remainder of a vacant term.  To attempt to enforce such artificial restrictions is a trip down a slippery slope.  We explained this to Mr. Avrashow at a City Council meeting.  He failed to state that in his article.
  • Council made it clear to him that Council would consider applicants who stated that they would not run in November.  No applicant made that statement.  As a result, that option was not available to Council.  He failed to state that in his article.
  • Any resident of Rancho Mirage could have applied to fill the vacant term.  He did not apply.  He wasn’t registered to vote in Rancho Mirage at the time and would have been precluded from holding office in our city. He failed to state that in his article.
  • The timing makes it clear that he had intended to run for a Council seat in November.  He clearly wanted the Rancho Mirage City Council to put our finger on the “election scale” in his favor and remove a potential competitor from the November field.  He failed to state that in his article.

Failure to state that he was new to the city and could not have applied for the open council seat.  Failure to inform that he intended to run in November and wanted to eliminate a competitor.  Failure to state in his article that he was well aware that no applicant indicated that they would not run in November.

On the one hand, we have a City Council with a decades-long tradition of excellence in government.  On the other hand, we have a newcomer to Rancho Mirage with no history of service to our city who chooses to run for office on a campaign of defamation.

My guess is that the voters in Rancho Mirage are well able to determine where the lack of transparency truly lies.

Image Sources

  • Rancho Mirage City Council Chambers: City of Rancho Mirage