A photo of outgoing Rancho Mirage Mayor Richard Kite shared during a slideshow honoring his 23 years of service to the city. (Rancho Mirage via YouTube/Screenshot)

Rancho Mirage Mayor Richard Kite retired earlier this month after 23 years of service on the city council, including six one-year terms as mayor. 

“The city has always been my number one passion, and today is a tough day for me to go through this process,” Kite, who is the longest serving council member in the city’s 50-year history, said at the Nov. 16 meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Downs presented Kite with a plaque honoring him for his commitment to the city.

“Those who have served with Richard over the years, a great many of them can attest that Richard is a gentleman,” Downs said. “Richard is one of the most gracious people that I know. He is a kind man with a ready smile. He has the best interests of Rancho Mirage at heart he always has.”

Downs was later appointed mayor by the council and Councilmember Ted Weill was appointed mayor pro tem.

During Kite’s tenure, a number of major public works projects — including the city’s library and observatory as well as the amphitheater — were completed.

“He’s been a part of some of the most notable developments in the history of the city of Rancho Mirage,” Downs said. “He’s an important part of building the long-standing Rancho Mirage tradition for good governance, for good management and for our impressive fiscal condition. Rancho Mirage is thought of as being one of the most well managed small cities in the state of California, and a huge reason that people say that about our city is Richard Kite.”

From the council to city staff and even public comments from both residents and non-residents, the impact Kite has had on the community was clear, but none as touching as the tribute from his wife Becky, who recounted some of the ways in which her husband has shown up for the community over the years — including answering late night calls from concerned residents.

“I know you love all the city staff here and all the residents of Rancho Mirage, and I know that they all love you right back,” she said fighting back tears. “To the residents of Rancho Mirage, Richard will always be there for you. He doesn’t need a title or a badge to do what he does best.”

Since Kite’s term doesn’t end until next November, the council unanimously voted to appoint someone to fill his seat. In order to be eligible, applicants must be 18 years of age or older and a registered voter in the city of Rancho Mirage.

Applications can be found here on the city’s website and must be submitted by 5 p.m. Thursday in order to be considered. Interviews are slated to take place during the council’s Dec. 5 meeting.

A video of the meeting can be found here on the city’s YouTube page.

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