Robert Moon has worked to repair the city’s image throughout his time in office. Wednesday night, the mayor stunned many in the community by announcing he will not be seeking re-election.
“Jointly, we [him and his husband] made the decision, because of all the things we want to do, that I would not be seeking a seat on the city council when the elections come up in November,” Moon said in his announcement.
Moon took over as mayor of Palm Springs three years ago following a federal indictment of former mayor Steve Pugnot.
“The last mayor left with a cloud over his head and that’s all anyone ever talked about,” Moon said in an interview with NBC Palm Springs.
Moon made it his mission to change that perception when he took office.
“Now the downtown is done, people have sort of forgotten for now about what happened before and Palm Springs has been on a roll for the past three years,” Moon said.
Now that roll is changing course because of new districting rules.
“People are not going to be voting for who’s going to be mayor and they’re not going to be voting for more than one council member,” Moon said. “People are going to be scratching their heads and saying ‘what happened’.”
Hank Plante, a political analyst, said, “You have to run as a council member in a district and the council is going to pick the mayor and there’s no guarantee that they would even pick him since he doesn’t get along with all the council members and visa versa.”
For Moon, the new rules were a cue for him to retire permanently.
“To go out with the city at the state it is now, the way it’s booming, and to go out as the last directly elected mayor, I think that’s a good way to go,” Moon said.
Moon also mentioned the council’s shift into a more liberal, partisan stance. The mayor considers himself a moderate.
“I don’t really approve of the way the council’s become very political, I find that uncomfortable,” Moon said. “I think our main job is to be paving streets, and repairing public buildings and building pickleball courts and not throwing our hat into the ring on state and national issues.”
The position of mayor in Palm Springs will be rotated among the council members.
Moon plans to stay involved with the city and its residents despite not being mayor, including getting the Plaza Theatre redone. He will appear at a community forum on Saturday for the rebuilding of the Plaza Theatre in downtown Palm Springs at 10:30 a.m.