There are six candidates vying for two open seats on the Palm Springs City Council. Wednesday night a forum for the candidates hosted by the Palm Springs American Legion and moderated by KMIR’s Janet Zappala was an opportunity for Lisa Middleton, Glenn Flood, Christy Holstege, Robert Stone, Judy Deertrack and Henry Hampton to sit in front of voters.
The first order of business was the budget. It’s a topic the current Council is not taking lightly, and the candidates aren’t either. They spent several minutes each going over why or why not they support Measure D. Hampton and Stone say they’re against the half-cent sales tax increase on the ballot in November. Flood, Middleton, and Holstege are all for the increase. Deertrack won’t exactly say where she stands, but calls bankruptcy “unthinkable.”
Someone in the audience submitted a question for discussion about the CV Link, which drew applause and support from the audience, making it evident it’s an issue contentious among Palm Springs residents. The crowd seemed divided on the issue, the candidates the same.
And of course, front and center in the debate, transparency in city government . The candidates threw their ideas into the mix about increasing transparency. Hampton suggested a more user-friendly city website with better media options. Middleton said she’d hold open office hours for the public.
Transparency is something Stone and Deertrack are practically running their campaign on (the candidates have previously taken some credit for public corruption charges against the former mayor.) As for the other candidates: Holstege says she stands for economic progress and addressing homelessness, Middleton believes the biggest issue is resolving the city budget challenges, Flood (the only veteran on the ticket) is a champion for public safety, and Hampton says he wants to work on lowering crime rates and build tourism.
Of course with only a short list of topics and candidates allowed several minutes on each question, the two-and-a-half-hour long forum could only skim the surface of the issues.
When asked if the candidates knew what they were getting themselves into, Mayor Robert Moon responded with a jovial laugh, “No, they have no idea what they’re getting themselves into. I think back about two years ago when I was running, some of the naivety I had. I’ve learned so much in less than two years."
Moon says he hopes possibly in the forthcoming debates, the candidates can discuss smaller issues he says affect people on the day-to-day like the Uber/Lyft airport pick-up ordinance and the gas-powered leaf blower ban.