Like a well-worn comfortable shoe that’s been tried and tested, Rancho Mirage voters on Tuesday could not part with those they have come to trust and rely upon – the incumbents.
Mayor Charles Townsend Vinci, Iris Smotrich, and G. Dana Hobart, the longest serving member of the Rancho Mirage City Council, were all chosen to lead the city for the next four years. The trio ran as a slate and won as a slate.
Unofficial election results show nearly 53 percent of the registered voters returned ballots in the all-mail election. Hobart, a longtime favorite in Rancho Mirage, was the top vote-getter with 3,651 votes, or nearly 25 percent. Townsend Vinci and Smotrich each received about 23 percent of the vote.
The official canvas of election returns will commence on April 12, 2018, and a certified statement of election results will be provided to the City no later than May 4, 2018, said City Clerk Kristie Ramos.
None of the incumbents returned requests for comments.
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.
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.
They are staples of the city’s political landscape.
Election Day brings to an end what has been characterized as one of the “nastiest” campaigns in recent times. It was an election pockmarked with an anonymous letter designed to smear Katherine “Kate” Spates, complaints filed against Hobart, misleading information aimed at undermining challengers’ stances on issues and more.
Hobart antagonists described him as “psychotic” and more.
Political newcomer Spates came in fourth with a little over 13 percent of the vote. She and those who helped her with her campaign were gathered at Wally’s Desert Turtle for what he characterized a “gratitude gathering.”
“I am proud of the campaign that my committee and I ran and I appreciate everyone who believed in me and voted for me,” Spates told Uken Report. “I plan to remain involved in my community as I have for the past 38 years. I want to thank so many important people in my life for encouraging me to step up and serve my community. I wrote a heartfelt note of thanks on my website www.katespates.com. The energy it takes to run a campaign is truly amazing. I am honored to have been a candidate for Rancho Mirage City Council.”
Robert “Bob” Mueller, also a political newcomer, took fifth place with 1,390 votes, or about 9 percent of the vote. Mueller, who was watching results with friends at Las Casuelas Nuevas, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Michael Harrington, no stranger to elections, came in sixth with 989 votes, or about 7 percent. He ran for Riverside County Superior Court judge in 2014, but lost. He also challenged Richard Kite and Ted Weill for a seat on the Rancho Mirage City Council in 2016 but lost.
Harrington told Uken Report that he wanted to thank those who voted for him, but also added, “I wish the council members much success in their tenure.”
Heading into the April 10 election, many political junkies had their money on Spates taking one of the three open seats. She raised more money than any of the other five candidates. She also had the coveted endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, the Coachella Valley’s most prominent Democrat.
Beyond that, Spat
es had unprecedented support from elected Coachella Valley leaders from Palm Springs to Indio.
Each of the five members on the City Council receives a monthly salary, mileage, per diem, health benefits and retirement benefits, according to City Clerk Kristie Ramos.
The mayor, a position that currently rotates annually among City Council members, earns $2,843 per month. Members of the City Council each earn $2,593 per month.
In addition to bi-monthly City Council meetings, councilors sit on various boards, including the Library, Observatory, and Housing Authority boards. Council members receive $50 per diem for attendance at each of those board meetings.
The city pays 100 percent of councilors’ medical, vision and dental insurance, according to Ramos.
They also enjoy other perks of the job.