It’s local political season time once again in Palm Springs. This year the Mayor and two Council Seats are up for election. Already we’ve learned Mayor Steve Pougnet has a challenger in City Commissioner Robert Moon. Incumbent council member Paul Lewin is seeking another term while the other incumbent, Rick Hutcheson, has decided not to seek reelection. Announcements from challengers (for both seats) have been made by Planning Commissioner J.R. Roberts and former Equality California leader Geoff Kors.
The five named individuals are all seen as highly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable. That will undoubtedly serve to make this year’s election one truly worthy of closely following. The expected campaign platforms and debate encounters will provide opportunities for learning about each candidate and then deciding which ones will receive votes.
Among the “wish list” of local issues the candidates may be asked to address are the following:
1. Palm Springs city government has many citizen boards and commissions. However there is no Finance Commission, Publics Works Commission or Streets & Transportation Commission. Should any of these city departments receive the oversight and scrutiny that would result from creation of a new city commission for their area?
2. Motor vehicle speed limits are viewed by many as too high on several city streets. Sunrise Way, Farrell Drive, East Palm Canyon Drive, Mesquite Avenue (between Sunrise Way and East Mesquite Avenue), Ramon Road, et.al. are all examples of streets with high-speed limits. Speed limits are set using a required formula, but there are ways to achieve speed limit reductions. Should steps be taken to reduce some of the high-speed limits?
3. There is no written Mission Statement to guide public works officials in the administration of funding and policies related to streets, bicycle paths, sidewalks and walkways. Past policies have worked to allot the majority of the funding and attention to the needs of motorized vehicles. That sometimes leads to disadvantages for non-motorized vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, runners and walkers. A Mission Statement that clearly differentiates how the share of funding, safety attention and support policies between the groups is needed.
4. Official communications transmitting news of significant new or changed city ordinances is needed. Too often important decisions made by the City Council fail to receive adequate dissemination to the public. A recent example would be the new city water conservation ordinance that mandated changes in water use by everyone. That information should have been sent by mail (possibly a postcard) to all residents in order to alert them to the change. Each city council action should include an assessment of the type of publication it should receive.
5. District Elections. In Palm Springs the members of the City Council are elected At-Large as opposed to election by district. In California many districts and communities have switched to election by district in order to facilitate equal representation. Should the City Council provide Palm Springs voters with a ballot option to switch to district elections or retain the existing system?
These are but a few of the many issues that could be addressed by those seeking election this year. While it’s doubtful any would actually result in official actions, their consideration could serve to provide voters with a better understanding of what to expect from the individual candidates.
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