Three incumbent Rancho Mirage City Council members — Mayor Charles Townsend, G. Dana Hobart and Iris Smotrich — have all pulled paperwork to start raising money for their re-election campaigns, according to City Clerk Kristie Ramos.
All three are up for re-election in the April 10 race.
Three seats are up for grabs on the five-person panel.
The two remaining City Council members, Richard Kite and Ted Weill, do not face re-election in 2018.
City Council members are elected at large for four-year terms.
The first day any candidate can officially pull papers is in mid-December. The exact date has not yet been set, Ramos said. The City of Rancho Mirage does not charge a fee to run for office.
Townsend was elected to the Rancho Mirage City Council in 2014. From 2016, he was Mayor Pro Tem and on April 20, 2017, he was sworn in as the Mayor of Rancho Mirage.
Hobart was first elected to the City Council in 2002. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Dana and his wife, Vicki, have lived in Rancho Mirage since 1993.
Smotrich was first appointed by the Rancho Mirage City Council on July 7, 2011. In 2012, she ran unopposed and was reappointed by the City Council to serve for a two-year term. In 2014, she ran for office and won.
The trio is seeking re-election at a time when the city has a $2.4 million surplus for the 2015-16 fiscal year and has a balanced budget.
The city’s Transient Occupancy Tax, commonly referred to as a “bed tax” at hotels, has generated an estimated $7.3 million for the general fund, nearly a 10 percent increase over 2015.
Revenue earned from sales tax spiked 6.8 percent in 2016.
During the past year new eateries, clothing stores, coffee shops, an ice rink and a rehabilitation center have made Rancho Mirage their home.
The success could make it difficult for potential challengers. Time will tell.
The City Council has been a tireless opponent to CV Link, a controversial $100 million, 50-mile transportation corridor in the Coachella Valley that was scheduled to begin in January.
The project has been halted, at least temporarily, by a lawsuit that alleges “illegal” funds are being used to build it.
Led by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), CV Link is a plan to combine pedestrians, bicyclists, and low-speed electric vehicles (including golf carts) on a dual pathway. CV Link was designed to connect Coachella Valley cities and the lands of three federally recognized tribes with a path that largely parallels Highway 111, the busiest corridor in the valley.
The lawsuit, filed on Friday, Oct. 13, in Riverside County Superior Court in Palm Springs, alleges that money from a variety of sources, including Measure A, a half-cent sales tax for transportation, is being used illegally to pay for the project. Voters approved Measure A in 1988.
A hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2018 before the Honorable James Latting.
Some supporters of CV Link allege that the city of Rancho Mirage is really the puppet master pulling the strings behind the attorney who filed the lawsuit so those seeking re-election won’t be sullied by a legal battle.
Mayor Pro Tem Hobart has told Uken Report that he played no role in Jim Ferguson’s lawsuit, but praised his effort.
“Considering that Mr. Ferguson’s lawsuit mirrors much of what Rancho Mirage has been contending over the past two-plus years, I believe that there is considerable merit to Ferguson’s contention that CVAG is misusing our road repair Measure A tax funds for their CV Link project,” Hobart said. “In 2002 when the public authorized a half-cent increase in our sales tax they believed the money would be spent as advertised – to repair our “crumbling” roadways.
For additional information about the election, contact the City Clerk’s Office at (760) 324-4511 or via email at kristier@RanchoMirageCA.gov