Thursday, November 05, 2009

Palm Springs Political Parties

Unlike San Francisco, Palm Springs was having a contested, meaningful election on Tuesday for two Palm Springs City Council seats. The government has four council seats and a mayor, with two council seats alternating for four-year terms.

The basic clash of values on the surface in Palm Springs is between conservative Christian Republicans and liberal gay/lesbian Democrats, but of course it's not that simple. There are a number of tolerant, independent thinking Christians in the town and plenty of conservative, pro-capitalism gays and lesbians.

What the election really came down to was whether or not any challenger could take on the two incumbents. The first was Chris Mills (above) running as the Republican pro-developer architect from the megachurch Desert Chapel, or Ginny Foat as the preservationist, power brokering lesbian who can get things done.

The Mills election party was held at the downtown Palm Springs Hilton's small cocktail lounge off the lobby and was filled with very expensive looking people, with a few looking fairly drunk pretty early in the evening.

The Ginny Foat party was held in the nearby Hotel Zoso lobby, with lovely, expensive appetizers for anybody who felt like eating.

The people looked more pleasant than the Christopher "Chris" Mills party but there was no sense of real political purpose or passion. It felt very much about divvying up the public spoils.

One of the insurgency candidates, none of whom won, was David Carden, Jr. (above left with his longtime partner Dale).

The Stonewall Democratic Club, headed by George Zander (above right), and the Palm Springs Democratic Club, headed by Nikki Stone (above left), both endorsed Carden who on the surface is the ultimate crossover candidate to represent a whole host of constituencies in Palm Springs.

He's part Native American in a town that is half-owned by the Cahuilla Indians, he's a Vietnam vet in a place filled with veterans, and he's gay, which represents about 55% of Palm Spring's population.

Plus, according to everyone I spoke to during his losing night election party at Wang's in the Desert, Carden is smart and empathetic, and definitely not part of the old power structure.

A good way to assess grassroots politicians is in the quality of their supporters, and the small group at Wang's struck me as the coolest crowd of the night. I hope Carden runs again and helps to nudge the town's power structure out of some very old ruts.


Greg said...

How funny. I knew George Zander when I lived in Seattle and he was chair of King County Democrats! I had no idea he'd moved to Palm Springs.

sfmike said...

Dear Greg: Everybody seems to end up in Palm Springs.