Public forum held for Rancho Mirage city council candidates

Forum held for Rancho Mirage city council candidates

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - The battle is on in the Rancho Mirage City Council election. A public forum was held Thursday evening with three incumbents and three candidates.

The candidate forum is run by the Chamber of Commerce was the first time for voters got to hear from all the people running. The focus of the forum was business and the economy. Incumbents focused on the city's success, challengers say they dream of a bigger future and a better brand for the city.

"Economics is basically everything that is the driver for almost every choice that would happen within a city government," Jason St. John said Chairman of Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce.

The incumbents Mayor Charles Townsend Vinci and Councilmembers Dana Hobart and Iris Smotrich focused on the accomplishments of the city, including setting aside $63 million in surplus, saying they would hold on to that cash for a catastrophic earthquake.

The recent construction of an amphitheater and the new observatory all done under their leadership.

"This city has a great future and a great presence and we will continue to do all the wonderful things, the developments that have been here that we have given back to this city," Vinci said.

Candidate Michael Harrington said he wants to reduce regulations and make the city more business-friendly. 

"What I can see is better shopping opportunities more markets business-friendly environment that brand that we used to have an maybe get back some of the luster," Harrington said.

Candidate Kate Spates wants to start a task force to focus on helping current businesses.

"I don't believe that Main Street is dead and gone I believe that Rancho Mirage restaurant row can be vital again. I think it needs attention," Spates said.

Candidate Robert Mueller proposed a possible tax holiday in the summer months for businesses.

Though this was a forum, not a debate that didn't stop some candidates from attacking each other.

"I do not recall such a blatantly false statement made by a candidate than Mr. Mueller's recent statement that Rancho Mirage had 3843 property crimes," Hobart said.

"As far as not being known worldwide or especially in London which Mr. Mueller mentions Queen Elizabeth was here it doesn't get much better than that," Smotrich said. 

"I would just like to respectfully correct Councilman Hobart, the earthquake recovery amount in the city's budget isn't $25 million it's $11 million according to the cities," Mueller said.

None of the candidates including the challengers showed any support for the CV Link. They were all vocally against the multi-use path being built in Rancho Mirage.

The Rancho Mirage municipal election will take place in April. All voting will be done by mail.

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