By Heidi Simmons
The Coachella Valley consists of nine contiguous cities each with its own municipal leadership election cycle and term limits.
Rancho Mirage has a five member City Council where the term of service is four years and the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem are appointed annually on a rotational basis within the City Council. Citizens vote on the second Tuesday of April in even numbered years.
This year, three seats are open with six candidates running. Three candidates are challenging three incumbents. There are no term limits for councilmembers. Residents will vote by mail-in ballots on or before April 10th.
Candidate Katherine “Kate” Spates is excited to run for a position on the Rancho Mirage City council.
Spates’ dedication, commitment, and years of experience come from a life shaped and molded by the community she considers home.
CVW asked candidate Spates about her life, the city she loves and what drives her to run for city council.
CVW: How long have you lived in the Coachella Valley and when did you move to Rancho Mirage?
Spates: “I moved to Rancho Mirage when I was 12 years old, nearly four decades ago! My mother and I relocated to the desert in the summer of 1980, and we lived in my mom’s best friend, Jan Wallace’s home on Los Alamos in Tamarisk Estates. When Jan and Don returned for winter, we moved into a home in Presidential Estates that was owned by Jan’s brother, Jack Knox (a well-known interior designer.)
We lived in the apartments on Bird Lane in Rancho Mirage (south of Highway 111), which had a breathtaking view of the valley. Later, my grandmother and mother bought a property in The Colony off Gerald Ford.
After I married, I moved to Indio for my husband’s business, but we would frequently spend time at the Colony house. It was like taking a vacation. I lived in other valley cities, but I’ve always considered Rancho Mirage my home.”
CVW: Are you married, do you have kids or pets?
Spates: “I was married for 23 years, and have been divorced for two. I have twin 15-year-old daughters, Cassidy and Abby, who I share equal custody with their father. I love animals, but don’t have any pets right now.”
CVW: What made you decide to run for City Council?
Spates: “I have roots in Rancho Mirage; it’s my home. My girls and I love to go to the library. We eat out twice a week at The River and other Rancho Mirage restaurants. We like to go to the new exhibits at the Children’s Discovery Museum. And, we are looking forward to the Observatory! I love that our city has so much to offer.
Our city deserves energetic leadership with creative ideas that will help keep improving all the great qualities that make Rancho Mirage so special.
For more than 20 years, I have been working with many nonprofits serving on boards and committees throughout the Coachella Valley. I’ve been fortunate to gain invaluable leadership experience though board appointments and nominations, as well as the skills I’ve gained through running my company.
Now, I want to step up and do my part for the community I live in, respect and admire. I’m certain that my business acumen, leadership experience, along with my marketing and public relations expertise will benefit the city and residents of Rancho Mirage.”
CVW: As a resident of Rancho Mirage, what are you most passionate about?
Spates: “I care deeply about my community, neighbors and our businesses. It is imperative to me that we preserve and continue to enhance our quality of life.
As a city, I am proud Rancho Mirage is a leader in so many wonderful cultural events. The Rancho Mirage Speakers Series, Rancho Mirage Writers Festival and the Library Foundation continue to provide the city with stimulating and provocative programs.
I’m passionate about the arts, culture, recreation, healthy living and educational opportunities for all Rancho Mirage residents for generations to come.”
CVW: What makes Rancho Mirage special, and how is it unique to the CV?
Spates: “Rancho Mirage is a beautiful city. When you drive into Rancho Mirage you see the difference right away. From the landscaped medians in the roads, to our skyline that is essentially free of power lines, residents appreciate this manicured and well-kept community.
Sunnylands and the Annenberg Retreat are world renowned and play an important role in global politics.
Eisenhower Medical Center is one of the finest nonprofit hospitals in the country and employs thousands of people. These are significant institutions that we value and are exclusive to Rancho Mirage.
The city also has a terrific dog park, a beautiful amphitheater at the Rancho Mirage Community Park, excellent dining, three stunning luxury resorts, the finest luxury car brands, and some of the most incredible homes and safest neighborhoods.
Rancho Mirage is a great place to live, and visit!”
CVW: Given the opportunity to serve Rancho Mirage, what would be your top priorities as a City Council Member?
Spates: “Since I announced I was running, people have approached me to share their concerns and ideas. I really enjoy listening to them and receiving their input. Rancho Mirage residents are so engaged, knowledgeable and educated.
My top priority is to revitalize the Highway 111 corridor. My first job as a kid was helping my brother by working as a “photo runner” at KOBE restaurant. Photographers took pictures of those dining, and then I’d run the film to be developed and bring the pictures back. It was a lot of fun.
The restaurants were so busy; the parking lots were always packed. All along the corridor businesses were booming.
The valley has spread out, but I believe we can bring back more businesses and find ways to enhance that whole area.
Although the City of Rancho Mirage has a low crime rate, I also want to look at the type of crimes that are committed in our city.
We need to ensure our city and its residents are safe from cyber crimes, identity theft and fraud. It’s important to stay on top of these problems and continue to evaluate our public safety and city’s security.
Emergency preparedness is another priority. We know the “Big One” is inevitable and as a community it’s important that we continue to be vigilant and prepared for earthquakes and other potential disasters. We should not get complacent as a city or as residents.”
CVW: The CV LINK is popular valley wide, but the Rancho Mirage City Council has opposed it and was voted down by residents. Is the matter closed or is there still room for discussion?
Spates: “Rancho Mirage voted against participation in the CV link. This issue is closed unless residents decide otherwise. Even if all council members were in favor of it, the power is in the hands of the residents.
For me, the only discussion to have now is about maintaining the safety of those who use the CV Link when they must exit the path into our city. Where will people walk, run, ride, drive and go when they leave the path and then pick it up again?
We must be sure whatever route CVAG ultimately chooses does not create a problem for residents and motorists driving through Rancho Mirage. Residents are not just spending free time on golf courses or indoor playing cards anymore. People are out running, cycling and walking their dogs. We must make sure they are safe, their personal property is protected, and their privacy is not violated.”
CVW: What are you reading now and what is on your nightstand?
Spates: “I love to read. I just recently started reading books on my phone now that my device is large enough to view reading material easily. I like that I can read on-the-go whenever I have a few moments.
I have several books that I’ve downloaded, and I often switch between a few depending on my mood. I’m currently reading “Getting Past What You’ll Never Get Over” by John Westfall, and “What I Know For Sure” by Oprah Winfrey.
On my nightstand I have, “Eisenhower: Becoming the Leader of the Free World” by Louis Galambos. I especially appreciate that Eisenhower came from a poor, hard-working family and was a self-made, honorable man. Education was his way out, which is certainly something I relate to. There’s so much I didn’t know about Eisenhower. It’s a fascinating read.”
CVW: What do you do for fun?
Spates: “I enjoy spending quality time with my daughters, I like traveling, hiking, golf, tennis, Pilates, and being with my best girlfriends.”
CVW: What do you want people to know about you?
Spates: “It was a challenge for my mother and me when we moved to Rancho Mirage. It was not an easy life. But, I met people my age in the neighborhood, who, to this day remain my close friends. As a teen, I worked several jobs at a time to help support my mom and our household.
When my friends went away to college, I worked my way through COD [College of the Desert] earning an AA degree, then transferring to and graduating from CSUSB [California State University, San Bernardino, Palm Desert] with a BA in marketing.
I’m so thankful I was able to go to college without leaving the desert.
What I most appreciate about my education is that while attending college, I found talents I didn’t know I had. After taking a computer programming class, I discovered that computer language came natural to me, I liked it, and I was smart. Later, I was able to teach myself how to code websites. This was when websites were a new marketing tool and a fresh business approach.
Marketing and business courses were a perfect fit, and I was drawn to the creative challenge of improving business strategies and good accounting practices.
So, education is near-and-dear to my heart. Giving people the opportunity to continue learning at a higher level is extremely important for their earning potential and self-confidence.
I want to encourage our youth, students and women to find their passion. I started a radio talk show on KCOD called “Major Discovery” where I volunteer as a host leading conversations with students, faculty, and professionals about career opportunities, certificate programs and a wide scope of majors. It’s great to help students see the connections between education and job possibilities.
Most importantly, I want to be a role model for my twin girls who are freshmen in high school.
Abby and Cassidy are my inspiration and motivation. Born prematurely, the girls have mild to moderate cerebral palsy. One doctor gave my girls very little hope for any kind of quality of life.
Today, they continue to overcome incredible obstacles and live rich, fulfilling lives. They do very well in school, devour books, and workout twice a week with athletic trainer Michael Butler at Kinetix. They are undergoing stem cell treatments, which is fascinating. They are my miracles.
Life is about living as fully as possible and making the most of every moment.
I was lucky to grow up in Rancho Mirage and it’s my home. I built a successful business and continue to provide leadership for some of the valley’s best charities and am raising two fantastic kids here. What can be better?
I’m grateful for an opportunity to serve my city, and I feel privileged to run for a seat on the Rancho Mirage City Council. There is so much to look forward to.”
The publisher of Coachella Valley Weekly endorses Kate Spates for Rancho Mirage City Council. For more information on candidate Spates go to www.kateforcouncil.org