This Day in 1988: Sonny Bono Inaugurated as Mayor

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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This Day in 1988: Sonny Bono Inaugurated as Mayor

29 years ago today, Sonny Bono officially began his political career when he was sworn in as the mayor of Palm Springs, California.

After a impressive career in music and an interesting career as an actor – hey, if you look at his filmography, you’ll see that this is absolutely an apt adjective – Bono found himself entering the political arena as a result of his frustration over the bureaucracy he had to deal with whilst trying to open a restaurant in Palms Springs.

Journalist Ron Rosenbaum interviewed Bono while he was in the midst of his campaign, and he painted a picture of a pretty dramatic situation in the city, writing, “If you believe Sonny, what we have here in Palm Springs is a serious case of municipal misrule; what we have here are potential scandals—conflict of interest, sweetheart deals, collusion with developers—the sort of thing that could blow the lid off this town. If you believe Sonny, what we have here is a story that might be called…Palm Springs Confidential.”

“The mayor and our city council is made up of contractors and real-estate people,” Bono told Rosenbaum. “It’s important that you don’t place your personal gain before the gain of the community…You have to be ethical to the overall goal of the community…You have to be ethical to the overall goal of the community. We’ve got council people that are selling land, like Eli Birer. I’m either going to run against [incumbent mayor] Bogert or Eli Birer. They’re big real-estate moguls. Our convention center was brokered by him. You can’t be impartial on something like that.”

Bono’s enthusiasm and devotion won over the people of Palm Springs: per the Washington Post, he won the seven-way mayoral race with 4,842 votes, with his nearest competitor, Lloyd Maryanov, only pulling 2,498. Interestingly, Bono’s victory led to the first news cycle in many moons that featured headlines involving both Sonny and Cher: the day before the election, Bono’s ex-wife won her Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck.