La Quinta Mayoral and City Council
November 2018 Election
Candidate: Dante Gomez
1. What project or projects do you propose to improve La Quinta and the quality of life of our citizens? Please explain:
1) What is the project?
2) What are its benefits?
3) How will it be achieved?
If elected I propose the three following projects to improve the quality of life for La Quinta citizens: 1) Improve public safety, 2) synchronization of traffic signals and 3) a 4th of July fireworks show at the La Quinta High School.
1) Improve Public Safety
In regard to public safety it is imperative that we have more deputy sheriffs patrolling our streets. I heard a current incumbent candidate seeking re election floated the idea of putting video cameras on every street corner and having a building where people watching the cameras would call deputy sheriffs to report to any crimes they observe as a way to reduce the amount of sheriff deputies. I am an attorney and have over 10 years of experience in criminal law. I have had conversations with deputy sheriffs that laugh at the idea that video cameras can supplement the need of deputy sheriffs. In 2016, the voters of La Quinta passed Measure G which raised sales tax by 1 cent. The council at that time admitted to our voters that they did not know how to manage the budget and claimed the city of La Quinta would be in a 50 million dollar deficit if the tax was not passed. The council blamed the rising cost of law enforcement as the need to raise taxes. Now 6 million dollars is being brought in every year by way of Measure G. Instead of spending the money on law enforcement or saving for the rising cost of law enforcement, the current council is planning on spending almost 3 million dollars of Measure G funds to build an amphitheater in the "Silver Rock Development." Public safety is the citizen's of La Quinta's #1 priority, unfortunately the current council does not share that opinion. If elected I will keep La Quinta safe, by advocating for more deputy sheriffs and look into reopening the Cove substation. A substation in the Cove would reduce response times for deputies that currently come from the Thermal station and also give the deputies a place to write reports which get submitted to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution.
This can already be achieved with the current budget we have coming in, if we can use the Measure G funds for what they are intended.
2) Synchronize Traffic Signals
Anyone who has driven on our streets knows the frustration of playing red light, green light on Highway 111 or Washington. As children it was an amusing game, but when you need to drop off or pick up your children off at school, get to work, the grocery store or pick up dinner it is an outright nuisance. The city currently has a multimillon dollar grant and the fiber optics to synchronize the lights. The current council members are playing the blame game and they are currently blaming "Caltrans" for the hold up of the project. I am new to politics. However, I have been effective and successful attorney for my entire career. I do not play the blame game, I get it done.
If elected I will achieve the synchronization of lights by making the necessary relationships and contacts with state and/or federal officials to synchronize our lights as soon as possible and put pressure on Caltrans to make this a priority. The time for games has passed, do not put with another four years of red light/green light. No one moved to the desert to sit in traffic.
3) 4th of July Celebration
Unfortunately, the City of La Quinta let our annual 4th of July fireworks celebration go many years ago. We are forced to go to Palm Desert or Indio on the 5th of July to feel some sense of patriotism. My grandfather is a Korean war veteran and my nephew is in the Air Force Academy. Our country’s birthday should be celebrated by all Americans and deserves more from our city than a “Happy Birthday” Facebook post.
If elected I will create an ad hoc committee to begin a 4th of July celebration at the La Quinta High School. The committee can find and develop private sponsorships and businesses to assist in funding a family friendly community based 4th of July celebration with hot dogs, hamburgers, fireworks and La Quinta citizens singing in their most beautiful voice "God Bless America, my home sweet home!"
2. Citizens have expressed concerns over potential safety issues on heavily used Calle Tecate at the top of the cove. These issues seem especially acute during the season.
1) Please share your views on these safety issues.
2) Explain what steps, if any, you believe would increase safety at the top of the cove.
3) How can they be achieved?
Health and Safety concerns need to be addressed by the City of La Quinta in a quick and effective manner. I have both run and drove on Calle Tecate on the weekend and have personally seen lots of vehicles in the area. Additionally, I routinely see law enforcement either parked in the area observing traffic or patrolling. In order to properly address the safety concerns at the top of the cove the city should hire an outside consulting firm to make recommendations as to whether we should reduce the speed limit, install speed bumps or create a lit and marked cross walk on Calle Tecate.
3. Economic development is a key element in the continued survival and success of any city. La Quinta faces vacant private commercial properties and is making plans for the Village and Silver Rock.
1) What specific steps can be taken to stimulate revival of vacant business properties?
2) What is the role of city government in the promotion of economic development on privately owned property?
3) What is that role in private/public partnerships like Silver Rock?
The city currently has an economic development committee that has done nothing in the last four years. The old Sam's Club and Ralphs buildings have sat vacant for the last four years. No action has taken place. In fact, the list of vacant buildings around our city has only continued to grow: the old Office Max building, the old Lumpy’s building, the old Las Cazuelas building…. what business is next? The City of La Quinta needs to assess the needs of our community, seek out business that will thrive and offer tax incentives for a limited period of time to entice business to make investments in La Quinta.
The City of La Quinta has no business in buying private property and trying to develop it to later sell it to a private business. The Silver Rock fiasco is a perfect example of what happens when government tries to get involved in the private sector and the free market by creating a resort, giving away acres of property with empty promises and a time line with no consequences when the developer is years behind development. Unfortunately, the current council has not learned from its mistakes and continues to attempt to repeat those mistakes. It was highly publicized approximately a year ago when the City of La Quinta contemplated spending millions of tax payer dollars to buy the old Sam's Club building to house surveillance camera feed or fix it to sell it to a private developer.
4. The largest single expense in the city’s budget is police service which continues to grow at approximately 11% annually.
1) What do you suggest the city should do to address this ongoing and very expensive challenge?
2) Should the city continue to pursue a city-wide surveillance camera system, and if implemented, what limits, if any, should be placed on its use?
3) What have you done to familiarize yourself with the city’s budget and operations?
The citizens of La Quinta addressed the growing cost of law enforcement, we passed Measure G, a one cent sales tax that brings in approximately six million dollars a year. I suggest the citizens should elect new representatives that respect the limits imposed on a budget, instead of declaring the city is going to be in a 50 million dollar deficit in 10 years to get tax payers to raise taxes and then mismanage the new money coming in, only to continue to blame law enforcement to milk tax payers for higher taxes.
The city-wide surveillance camera system to reduce and replace sheriff deputies makes no sense for three major reasons: 1) it will not reduce crime, 2) it will not keep us safe and 3) it will waste costs millions of dollars. 1) Most crime does not occur on street corners, which is why videos of street corners will not capture most crime. 2) If you dial 911, a deputy outside your house will save your life, not someone staring at a surveillance camera feed; 3) if we spent millions to implement the system and the person staring at the screen sees a crime, are they going to call the reduced police force that the city council cut to pay for the cameras? This city-wide camera system idea should have been shut down a long time ago and is just another example of the complete disregard and focus that the current council has on actual safety and fiscal restraint.
In order to familiarize myself with the city’s budget and operations I have attended city council meeting, spoken with city commissioners, city employees and reviewed previous agendas and news articles.
CANDIDATE FOR LA QUINTA CITY COUNCIL 2018 - DANTE GOMEZ