DESERT HOT SPRINGS — Robert Griffith, 58, managing director at El Morocco Inn & Day Spa, is seeking a full, four-year term on  the City Council in the Nov. 3 election. He is currently serving as mayor pro tem.

He is one of seven people seeking one of two City Council seats on the five-member board, The two seats are each four-year terms.

The six others seeking the seat are Russell Betts, incumbent; Stephen Giboney; Jessica Gilbert; Jonathan Laura; Jason Moore; and Roger Nunez.

Uken Report has asked each candidate identical questions. Following are Griffith’s responses.

Uken Report (UR): Why specifically do you want to be on the City Council?

Robert Griffith: I was appointed unanimously to the position in 2019. I believe it always takes a year at any job to settle in and become truly productive. I believe I have done a good job thus far and I really enjoy it. I feel that I can use my skills and knowledge to help improve the city, to continue moving the city forward and to offer my ideas and insight on other commissions to which I have appointed to help the Coachella Valley. I am usually the quiet one on the dais but I am inclined to do the work that needs to be done then be in the spotlight.

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

Robert Griffith: It’s been just over a year since I was appointed to CIty Council. One of my greatest accomplishments to date started before I was appointed. I began working with Vicky Nash at Resort Trends to bring the second annual Hot Springs Connection Conference here to Desert Hot Springs. This is an international conference for owners/operators and managers of Hot Springs Resorts. We hosted the conference here in October 2019 and we had attendees from across the U.S.. and 4 countries, to promote the city as a great resort destination.

UR: How do you define leader and leadership?

Robert Griffith: A leader is someone who can take charge and do what needs to be done to make things happen – whether that means improvement, completion or action. A leader has a vision and guides the way, making sure others are not left behind. Leadership is putting these things into action and taking responsibility for the results, good or bad. A good leader is one who engenders trust in those he/she leads. A leader is willing to make decisions that may not be popular but need to be made.

UR:  Do you fit this definition?

Robert Griffith: I believe I fit this definition. I am always looking for ways to improve things – in my life, in my work, in my career. Those that work with/for me always know that I am looking out for them and for ways to improve. I am not one to shy away from difficult decisions. I take responsibility for my actions and I am always willing to do the hard work to reach a goal.

UR: What are your top three goals for DHS if elected or re-elected?

Robert Griffith: My top three goals are:

  • First is continued economic development. DHS is in a unique position regarding economic development. We are one of the few communities in the Coachella Valley that has land for development. Many of the other communities are well built-out. We have been fortunate to have some leaders that have planned and for that reason we are not suffering as much as other cities from the pandemic-related economic downturn. With the recent move here of Royal Emerald Pharmaceuticals, we are poised to attract attention from other businesses. This can help us to diversify our business base and protect us from future downturns.
  • Revival of our Spa/Hospitality Industry. We are known as the Spa City. Many of our spas have been converted for residential purposes and there is an effort to convert others into rehabilitation facilities. I believe we have an opportunity to bring back some of our older, more rundown properties into viable spas. The COVID pandemic has caused many problems but I feel we are in a position to benefit. Many people are looking for places to vacation within driving distance. We are positioned within a few hours of Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego. There are 27 million people within 250 miles of Desert Hot Springs. Many people are looking for more remote, less crowded alternatives for trips to reduce their chance of exposure to COVID19. I work in hospitality and I can verify we are finding that to be true. Many new visitors to DHS are here because they want to avoid more crowded cities.
  • Integrity and Respect would be my third priority. DHS is often haunted by its past. There is a perception that the city council is corrupt. Residents of other cities think DHS is dangerous. And I feel there are other communities that view us as a lesser city. We, as leaders, need to demonstrate by our actions and behavior that we have the best interests of the city and its residents in mind. Decisions should be made for the benefit of the city, not for our benefit, our career or our positional longevity.  Our interactions with other cities’ leaders should bring respect to our city. When we are interacting with other cities or their leaders, we represent DHS. That means we need to be aware that how we dress, how we speak and how we act is a reflection on our residents. If you have ever worked for Disney (I have not but I know how they operate), then you understand the concept of being “on stage” when you are working. We, as leaders, are onstage whenever we are visible and especially when we attend meetings or events. I do my best to represent Desert Hot Springs in a positive manner.

UR: If you could change one thing about DHS, what would it be?

Robert Griffith: The one thing I would like to change is the negative view that some of our residents have towards our city. No, it’s not perfect. No it’s not Palm Springs. It’s DHS. Its unique and there are positives to being unique, to being different. It separates us from the crowd. We have the benefit of being apart. Many visitors have no idea that Rancho Mirage is a different city from Palm Springs. They believe the whole string of cities south of I-10 is Palm Springs. Do we have room to improve? Without a doubt. But you don’t improve unless you believe that things can be better and you work to make them so. You either pitch in to make it happen or you sit back and complain. I would say I am a “the glass is half full” type of person. I always look for the positives and if there aren’t enough, I find a way to make it so.

UR: Anything you would like to add?

Robert Griffith: I think DHS is a great place to live.  I know that this community has so many people that really care. Difficult times can bring out the best of people and I have seen so many recent examples of that. It is evident that DHS is truly a community with a heart. I am grateful to live here.





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