Name: Russell Betts
Occupation: Retired small-business owner
1. Describe the city’s current budget situation. How do you plan to balance the budget and take care of the city?
The budget is balanced, and the city’s financial status is stable. I know there are people out there trying to tell people otherwise. We’ll finish up the year with $2.5 million in the bank as reserves. It’s not $2.5 million spent anywhere else, but extra money sitting in a bank account. It’s a complete turnaround for the city.
2. Aside from hiring more officers, what can be done to tackle DHS’ crime rate?
What’s critical right now is to hire more police officers. By January, we will have our police department at full force at 27 officers. Next, we have to fund some youth-intervention programs through the police department, bringing in outside specialists and working with some of the groups like Rising Star Academy to keep the youth from going down the wrong path and causing problems.
3. How do you plan to attract new businesses to Desert Hot Springs?
The most important thing we can to attract new business is provide business service so when people come in, they can make decisions. There’s been somewhat of a convoluted system at City Hall where it’s been very difficult for businesses to come in and get established, mostly because the permit process takes so long. We are getting very close to where that’s being streamlined, and we’re getting permits over the counter same-day. It’s just an unwieldy system, and we’re working on making it much easier instead of scaring businesses away. We also have to stop this problem of steering businesses to land (owned by) people who (city officials are) friends with. When people come into this city and want to locate a business … let us know; don’t hire so and so development “because he’s my friend and makes campaign contributions to me.”
4. DHS has a problem with homelessness. What can the city do to fix this?
Our city needs to draw on research and innovative programs from across the country to develop a comprehensive plan that focuses on ending homelessness among all populations—chronic, families, youth, veterans and the elderly—in our city. Efforts by other communities have shown results.
5. If you could challenge every DHS resident to do one thing, what would that one thing be?
Come forward and cooperate with the police when they ask for help in solving a crime. Witnesses seem to be very reluctant, and even some victims seem to be very reluctant. We will all work with our police department.
6. Palm Drive/Gene Autry or Indian Canyon? Why?
I travel both. It depends on where I’m going, I suppose.
7. Date shake or bacon-wrapped dates? Why?
I’d rather have a cheeseburger at one our local restaurants.
8. If someone gave you a $100 gift card to the DHS Kmart, what would you buy?
It’d probably get burned up real quick on Legos and Nerf guns for my grandson.
9. If someone walked up to you and told you that DHS was the worst place to live in California, what would your response be?
You’ve never lived here. It’s a beautiful city.
10. Award-winning water from the tap, or bottled water?
It’s too obvious—tap water, of course.