PALM SPRINGS, CALIF., APRIL 12 -- A day after his ex-wife Cher walked off with the Best Actress Oscar, singer-turned-restaurateur Sonny Bono was elected mayor of this desert resort.
Bono easily won today's seven-way race with 4,842 votes, according to city spokeswoman Julie Baumer. His nearest competitors were accountant Lloyd Maryanov with 2,498 votes, businesswoman Deyna Hodges with 1,934, and Vice Mayor Eli Birer, 1,140. Three other active candidates trailed far behind.
"This has just been a very active election. When you get that many people running there's a lot of interest," said Patty Bode, assistant city clerk, who estimated turnout at 55 percent.
Palm Springs officials said the turnout, while considerably better than the average 30 to 40 percent, would not be a record.
An exuberant Bono campaign worker reached by telephone at the candidate's Maxim's Suite Hotel headquarters described the atmosphere there as "ecstatic."
The new mayor will serve four years instead of two and be paid $15,000 a year.
Candidate Bono, a registered Republican, ran against the "old boys' network" that controls Palm Springs. Like most of his competition, he promised to revitalize the city, which has lost much of its glamor and tourist business to such neighboring communities as Palm Desert, where Jim and Tammy Bakker are living, and Rancho Mirage, home of Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford.
Bono has said he began coming to Palm Springs, 110 miles east of Los Angeles, 14 years ago to escape the big-city craziness of Los Angeles. He moved here four years ago and opened an Italian restaurant, called Bono.
After run-ins with city officials over the size of his restaurant sign and a retaining wall at the 1920s estate he is refurbishing, he decided to run for mayor.
"If they can do that to me, just imagine how the ordinary person is treated who wants to start a business," he said last week, referring to unnamed city officials. "We're trying to encourage business here, not chase it away. I have a big investment in this city. I don't want to see it deteriorate or decline."
Bono, 53, rose to fame wearing furry vests and bell-bottoms and singing "I've Got You Babe" with Cher. He correctly predicted his ex-wife's Academy Award, and she endorsed him for mayor.
Bono still dabbles in entertainment, appearing with Cher during a reunion on "Late Night With David Letterman" recently and costarring in the film "Hairspray."
Bono and his fourth wife, Mary, 26, are expecting their first child this month.