Desert Hot Springs was incorporated in 1963 and has a City Council-City Manager form of government. Its governing body, the Desert Hot Springs City Council, is comprised of five members including the mayor, all of whom are elected by city residents. Council members serve four-year terms; the Mayor serves a four-year term with a term limit of two terms.
Municipal elections are consolidated with the general election and held every two years in November of even-numbered years. Council terms overlap, with two Council members elected every two years and the mayor elected every four years. Each year in December, the Mayor Pro Tem is selected upon the recommendation of the Mayor and ratification by the majority of the City Council.
Desert Hot Springs is among more than 300 cities in California operating under the Council-Manager form of government. The Council hires the City Manager who is the chief administrative officer of the City and hires the City Attorney, who serves as the City’s primary legal advisor.