City Council candidate Mike Mower

Spotlight on the Candidates

City Council candidate Mike Mower “One of my priorities on the council will be continuing to improve the city’s finances,” said Mike Mower, who is seeking another term on the city council.

“It really has not gotten much attention, but we have saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars — and the school district millions — by refinancing the old debt from the now-defunct redevelopment agency.

Mower, who also served two terms in the 1980s, said that although the city is in a much more fiscally sound position today than it was when he was elected four years ago, the financial challenges facing cities in California today are much greater than they were during his previous run.

He said that part of his experience comes from running a business for 39 years. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and was a manager of Bank of America for 13 years. “I know how to read financial statements — even though I admit the city’s are difficult to follow.”

Part of improving the city’s finances, he said, means spending the money it does have wisely. “I want to make sure we continue to spend Measure V on street improvements. We need to finish the Downs Street project, widening it between Ridgecrest Boulevard and Upjohn — it’s our only arterial street that isn’t four-lanes wide,” he said.

Mower said that he is also interested in seeing more aggressive street improvements, and suggested the city set a goal of resurfacing 5 percent of its streets annually.

“I really don’t have much to say about the casino,” said Mower, who was among the three sitting members to vote in favor of approving the municipal services agreement with the tribe.

“We have a land sale agreement, we have an MSA.”

However, he said, the land sale agreement expires at the end of the month if the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs do not take the land into trust before that time.

“So the casino could be a moot point, at least at that location. I haven’t polled the council, so I cannot get a feel for support, but I don’t know if I would vote for it again.”

Mower said that the groundwater management plan is being driven by state mandate. “So we were forced into this. People say we can ignore the state, but we tried to ignore the state on trash, and that didn’t work.”

He said that one advantage of the Indian Wells Valley is how much water is in storage, “so the state is remiss in demanding we balance inflow and outflow because we have something most basins don’t.

“And I know people say we are a closed basin, but we know there is water going to Trona and out to the south of our basin.”

He said that managing public safety challenges is difficult “when the state has taken so much out of the local government’s control.” The recent rise in crime has hit him personally, he said, “and I know others in the same situation.”

However, he said, putting more officers on the street will not necessarily make our community safer if the state continues to make it difficult to prosecute and incarcerate criminals.

“I think one thing that would help, in addition to the parks assessment, is a city-wide lighting district. That can be a very effective crime deterrent.

“Making it harder for people to steal is one way to reduce crime.”

Story First Published: 2018-10-12