Palm Springs Pride President and CEO Ron deHarte, who currently chairs the city’s Human Rights Commission, announced Monday he will seek the District 3 City Council seat being vacated by Councilmember Geoff Kors.
DeHarte plans to make a formal announcement at an 11:30 a.m. event Tuesday at Ruth Hardy Park.
“As a small business owner, gay, Hispanic, father of two, I want Palm Springs to forever be a great place to live, work, and visit,” he said in an email announcing the Tuesday event. “I am running because I am a resident who cares about Palm Springs and believes we can have safe streets, sound economic development, a robust tourism economy, and accessible housing while being a leader in sustainability.”
DeHarte has chaired the Human Rights Commission through some of its most visible and controversial work, including last year’s recommendation to remove a statue of former Mayor Frank Bogert from in front of City Hall and to issue a formal apology for the events that occurred in Section 14 in the late 1950s into the 1960s.
Statements in the email touting his accomplishments and qualifications only briefly mention deHarte’s work on the Human Rights Commission, focusing instead on his involvement with the local business community and service on boards and advisory committees. Among those listed are his service on the City of Palm Springs Police Chief’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee, Main Street Palm Springs, and memberships on the board of directors for Safe Schools Desert Cities, Palm Springs Pride, and the United States Association of Prides.
DeHarte lists his association with George Zander as the inspiration for the City Council run. Zander died in 2015 after sustaining an injury during a hate crime.
“George planted the seed and Ron was asked to run but was not yet ready to be a politician, focusing his energy on working with nonprofits, providing empowerment opportunities for youth and raising awareness of the vast diversity of our city,” deHarte’s campaign material states.
Kors, who was first elected in 2015 and served as mayor between December 2019 and December 2020, announced last week he would not seek a third term, referring to the fact others who live in District 3 were inquiring whether he would run again.
Kors is listed among 10 early endorsements of deHarte’s campaign. Others on the list include Mayor Lisa Middleton, Councilmember Christy Holstege, who served as mayor last year, Main Street President Joy Brown Meredith, and former Mayor Ron Oden.
City Council elections are scheduled for later this year and will include not only the District 3 seat, but also District 1 — currently held by Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner — and District 2, currently held by Councilmember Dennis Woods. Neither has made a formal announcement about whether they will seek re-election.