Renee Brown is a familiar fixture ‘scooting’ around town

PALM SPRINGS — Renee Brown, a lifelong Palm Springs resident, is seeking the District 2 seat currently held by Dennis Woods who is not seeking re-election. Destination PSP owner Jeffrey Bernstein is also seeking the seat for a four-year term.

Uken Report (UR) sent all candidates seeking a seat on the Palm Springs City Council identical questions to help voters get a better understanding of each. Brown responded, Bernstein did not.

Following are Brown’s responses.

UR: Occupation

Renee Brown: I am the Director of Education at the Palm Springs Historical Society in addition to being an Associate Curator. I am also a former educator, columnist, and service worker.

UR: Who or what motivated you to run for City Council at this time?

Renee Brown: I am a proud life-long resident of our city, and my decision to run for office stems both from my love of our community, and also my belief that the current city council has not necessarily steered us in a good or sustainable direction. I am especially concerned about the possibility of the city paying out excessive reparations to Section 14 survivors, potentially to the tune of 100+ million dollars, a decision which would be financially disastrous to Palm Springs and greatly impact our ability to address concerns like helping the homeless, creating affordable housing, and public safety. In recent years, we’ve seen our homeless population increase significantly, our crime rates rise, and a crisis of affordability/lack of affordable housing including rentals begin to push out the working-class residents that our city relies on for its service, hospitality, and tourism industries. The crisis of affordability is also impacting our seniors particularly hard. If we’re going to effectively address these issues, then we need a city council more engaged with local issues than national politics, more responsive to the needs of residents, and more focused on achieving tangible results than garnering headlines.

UR: What makes you a better candidate than your opponent?

Renee Brown: In my view, my opponent is a good person and an active member of our community. But I also believe that he is the hand-picked choice of the “established powers” within city politics, and if there is one thing we don’t need in Palm Springs, it is a small group of powerful people making the important decisions for the rest of us. What makes me a better choice than him is the fact that I bring perspective to the council as a lifelong resident, I am community-driven, and I have no obligations to any groups, special interests, or powerful people. My vote on the council will be swayed only by the input and concerns of my district’s residents.

UR: What can you bring to the City Council that is currently missing?

Renee Brown: I believe the current city council lacks knowledge about our city’s history and context from a historical perspective and too frequently ignores the concerns of workers and everyday residents in favor of the desires of developers & the wealthy. I would work to fix those things. In addition, many residents have expressed frustration with the difficulties they have had in contacting city council members and engaging in dialogue with them, so accessibility and responsiveness to the input of residents is something I would bring to the council as well.

UR: What is the single most important endorsement you have and why?

Renee Brown: My most important endorsements thus far are those from the many different district residents and community members who have expressed their support of our campaign and allowed me to share their testimonials on my website. That said, I am most proud to have the endorsement of the Inland Empire Labor Council AFL-CIO. As an organization, they represent a broad and diverse group of workers, and they are composed of 80 different unions covering a geographical area of over 27,000 square miles in size and including more than 130 cities. To have their strong support means the world to me, and in my view, their endorsement supports my campaign’s message and my status as a candidate invested in standing up for our city’s workforce and our low-to-middle income residents.

UR: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment either in or out of office?

Renee Brown: I would say that my greatest accomplishment is bringing up my three (now adult) children who have become wonderful people, parents, and community members. I am also proud of the local history children’s programs that I have implemented in third-grade classrooms and also through the Boys and Girls Club in Palm Springs. These programs root our city’s children in the history of their community, hopefully making them better citizens in the future. I am also proud of my work preserving the history of Palm Springs in a digital format for future generations.

UR: What is the single biggest issue facing Palm Springs, other than homeless, and why?

Renee Brown: I believe the biggest issue facing Palm Springs currently is protecting the city’s financial standing and future in the event the city must pay reparations to the tune of 100+ million dollars as a result of the Section 14 issue. I also believe we must urgently respond to the increasing crisis of affordability and the rising crime rate in our city.

UR: What will you propose to do about it?

Renee Brown: I believe the city needs to do a full-scale, comprehensive analysis of the history of Section 14, including the oral history interviews gathered in 2012 and Desert Sun articles written between 1955 and 1967, which impacted over 2,000 residents. I believe the city can decide on an amount for Section 14 survivors which is not financially ruinous to the city, and reparations should include investments into the Desert Highland Community to assist the economic well-being of residents in that area.

UR: Is there one decision with City Council has made with which you strongly disagree? If so, what was it and why?

Renee Brown: I strongly disagree with the decision the city council made to apologize (admitting culpability) for the city’s role in Section 14 without first doing their due diligence. Also, the meetings where these issues are discussed need to be available to the public.

UR: You are all well-known. What is one thing people don’t know about you?

Renee Brown: I ride an electric scooter all over town as it’s a great, low-emissions way to commute and very fun as well!




Image Sources

  • Pair of podiums: Renee Brown