INDIO — As Indio residents prepare elect City Council representatives by districts for the first time in November, Mayor Michael H. Wilson is stumping for residents’ votes in District 2.
Wilson, 53, has lived in Indio for 48 years. He is a retired firefighter and former battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).
There are two seats open on the City Council in the November election. Each seat is a four-year term.
- In District 2, Wilson is being challenged in his re-election bid by Waymond Fermon.
- In District 4, incumbent Troy Strange is being challenged by political newcomer Oscar F. Ortiz.
- Councilmember Elaine Holmes is unopposed in her bid for re-election.
City Council races are nonpartisan, but Wilson, a registered Republican has sometimes come under attack for his conservative views.
“As this is a non-partisan race, I don’t look to take partisan positions on public policy issues that affect the city of Indio,” Wilson told Uken Report. “Rather, I always look first to what’s in the best interest for Indio and Indio’s residents. That is my No. 1 priority. Though I am registered as a Republican, I have many times gone against the conservative viewpoint, or my personal opinion many times, to do what’s in the best interest of Indio. I believe my job first and foremost is to protect the public safety of Indio and our residents, beyond anything else.
Following is a trio of questions and Wilson’s reponses.
Uken Report (UR): Why specifically are you running?
Wilson: I have served Indio residents for 21 years on the Indio City Council. I am humbled by the support Indio residents have given me to continue to serve. Indio has accomplished great things in the last 21 years under my leadership. More recently, Indio is on fire in relation to growth, investment, development, progress, and only getting better. Indio was recently named as one of the top 500 emerging economies in the United States by nerdwallet.com. That is a huge success story waiting to be told. There are currently large scale projects in a variety of areas that have long been my vision and dream to accomplish but timing wasn’t right. We are now on the verge of great success in two specific areas, the Indio Mall at Monroe St. and Hwy 111, and Old Town Indio. Redeveloping these specific areas are of great interest to our Community and the Indio City Council has made it the number one priority. As with many things, developers and investors are finicky about change. Now is not the time to change leadership and stop progress. When large scale development and growth is about to be undertaken in a community the development and investment community desires consistency and stability in the leadership of that community. That’s what we have in Indio today. The City Council currently gets along and works extremely well together. We have shown great success in working together. There is an old adage that says, “if it isn’t broke, don’t change it.” In Indio’s case, we are very strong, consistent, and stable, which will lead to many more great things for our city. Success breeds success, and that’s why I am running. I’m experienced, effective, and committed.
UR: What is the single biggest issue facing Indio, why and what are you doing – or will you do – to correct it?
Wilson: Indio’s largest issue currently is building our tax base and revenue stream to accommodate our residents needs. A recent study showed Indio has about a 70 percent retail sales leakage rate to other cities. That means the majority of Indio residents shop outside Indio’s borders and Indio doesn’t retain the sales tax dollars that would benefit the community at large.
As the largest share of Indio’s budget revenue comes from sales taxes, we are only short changing ourselves. What this means is we are supporting other cities’ public services, public safety, roads and road maintenance, parks, sports facilities, and many other services that cities supply its residents. If Indio could capture a large share of that lost sales tax revenue we could do great things for our community and provide the very best city services around like, more police officers, more firefighters, more parks and sports facilities, more street sweeping, more rep aged roads and road maintenance, and many other things.
Indio could have the very same things any other city in the Coachella Valley has. Supporting local business to keep our small businesses open and productive is key to attracting other business that we don’t have in Indio, yet. It is very important to educate our community as to how supporting local businesses can help improve our community greatly. The City Council and I are working hard to get this message out. We are also working hard together to promote, attract, and keep economic development happening in Indio. This will keep our city moving forward and give us the ability to create the revenue needed to make Indio the most successful city in the Coachella Valley. That is my goal.
UR: Where (in what area) do you think you can make the biggest difference?
Wilson: It takes great leadership to make great things happen. Leaders aren’t born, leaders are developed through many years of experience, hard work, determination, tenacity, and belief. If you do not believe you can make a tremendous difference, you never will.
I have shown over 21 years in Indio that I have made a tremendous positive difference in creating an Indio we can all be proud of. I have had many successes, yet I am not finished. To take Indio to the next level it will take experience, effectiveness, and a commitment in its leadership to get the job done.
I am experienced, very effective, a fighter for Indio, and I am committed more than anyone to make Indio a place we are all proud of. Indio has many complex but attainable issues that will require great leadership to accomplish. I believe that leadership currently exists with the current City Council remaining together and working hard like we have been doing for many years. My experience and historical perspective in Indio, as to what works and what doesn’t, and understanding the mistakes of the past makes me the very best leader in District 2 to continue as your City Councilmember.
Editor’s Note: Pictured above are Mayor Michael H. Wilson and his wife, Gina, and their 4-year-old daughter Ambrielle.