As part of our “Five Questions Series” profiling local elected leaders, the chamber recently spent time with Indio Mayor Lupe Ramos Amith. Mayor Ramos Amith was born and raised in Indio and has served on the Indio City Council since 2004. She is serving her fourth term as Mayor, having previously served Indio as Mayor in 2007- 2008, 2010-2011 and 2014-2015.
1. Most people who run for City Council have a deep connection to their community as a motivation. Tell us what you love about Indio?
I’ve seen Indio through the eyes of a child. Now, I have the honor to not only see Indio through the eyes of an adult, but to also be an active member of the community. As a small child I remember walking to school, crossing over the railroad tracks, and asking my mother “when is that population sign going to hit 10,000?” Look at us now! We will soon be reaching 100,000 in population and are on track to be the largest Coachella Valley Community and one of the fastest growing cities in the County.
What I love about Indio is how diverse our culture and how rich our history is. Our families span generations, from early railroad settlers and farmers to new residents who migrate here from all over the world. Indio businesses offer products and services for everyone, and our public services provide a place for both young and adult. I love that Indio’s priority has always been to maintain our natural beauty while appreciating our agriculture history and our cultural diversity. That’s the Indio I love and that’s the Indio that continues to attract families, world recognized events and new businesses.
2. One of the challenging parts of governing is trying to represent everyone, and as Mayor it can be even more challenging as you often represent your Council publicly as well. You have been doing this for a while, how do you find that balance?
I learned early in my life that my passion is for community service! From a young Officer in my youth service club to my adult life in public service, I have put my community’s best interest at the forefront of my daily life. This life lesson has equipped me to govern with grace and fairness, which can be a complex balancing act when representing the entire community and speaking on behalf of the Council.
As a four-term Mayor, I understand my role is crucial to the advancement of Indio’s plans and needs. I attribute finding balance to the lessons I learned as a child, helping my parents care for my seven younger siblings while they worked hard as Indio small business owners. I learned then that in order to succeed we must all work together. Finding balance is something I strive toward daily. It is something that has allowed me to succeed as a small business owner, a 16-year public servant, and as a mother.
3. Each District in Indio seems to have circumstances unique to their business community. Asses your newly formed district, what are the opportunities and the challenges you see for that business community?
As the District 5 City Councilmember and Mayor, I am proud to represent one of the areas with the greatest history and opportunity for growth. The “Polo” District roughly spans the southern section of the city from Highway 111 to Avenue 52 and from Jefferson to Jackson Street, jetting up slightly to encompass Indio High School, The Indio Teen Center and The Indio Senior Center. The district is comprised of new and old infrastructure, businesses and residences. This area offers residents and developers an incredible opportunity for the addition and expansion of diverse residential and commercial development that will set the tone and stage for generations to come.
The opportunity exists for developers to create projects that offer consumers a “unique experience”, while inspiring entrepreneurial businesses to offer new products and services for both year-round and seasonal residents, as well as tourists. This commercial growth will be the catalyst for increased property values that will feed the continued development of high-end residential estate homes, which are rapidly filling in our southern landscape. Some of the challenges that will come with growth include managing the integration of this new culture with the old history, and vice versa. Indio has always been a community that embraces growth, both from our seasonal residents and the many events that attract a worldwide audience. I am confident that we will embrace this historic phase of growth with the same excitement and openness we have had in the past.
4. The business community in Indio is very eclectic, from manufacturing to agriculture and everything in between, Indio probably has it. Together it all forms the base for our unique local economy. When it comes to creating jobs, what role can you as a council member play in aiding that effort?
Indio is known as the community that offers residents a diverse place to work, play and live. As a Councilmember, our current focus is to plan for our next 25 to 50-year growth cycle. The General Plan process will soon be complete. It will allow our residents and business owners an opportunity to share their input on how we will grow and continue to maintain that diversity.
In order to continue as a well-rounded community, jobs and industry are a key component that will not only allow us to maintain the quality of life we desire for our families, but also offer our youth an opportunity to become part of emerging industries. As a Councilmember, my commitment to creating these types of opportunities is evident in the many partnerships I have cultivated with leaders from both small and large businesses. Our businesses, youth and residents all rely on our unique local economy, it is my role to assure that we grow responsibly and maintain the quality of life we all desire.
5. What are your major goals for 2019?
As much as I would like to start out the year “full-throttle”, I recognize and am sensitive to the need for our new council team to dedicate time for strategic planning sessions. This is an unprecedented time in our history with the addition of two new members, a new Planning Commission, a new City Administration who represent a cross-section of seasoned professionals, and for the first time in our history a younger demographic of leadership. Spending the time early on to learn and grow together will make us a much more effective leadership team.
My major goals include the planning for our future public facilities and infrastructure that will sustain our growth as we plan for 250,000 residents, working with the business community so that the City proactively supports them as they grow to meet the needs of our residents, and assuring that our financial reserves and financial well-being are preserved to support that growth. It is commerce that started Indio 89 years ago, and it is our residents that have been the heart and soul of our growth and our passion for being the City of Festivals!