CATHEDRAL CITY — Laura Ahmed, a part-time professor at College of the Desert, is seeking the lone seat in District 5. She will go head-to-head with Raymond Gregory in the November election.
District 5 is comprised of the Panorama and La Pasada neighborhoods, as well as the southern and western portions of Rio Vista and the Park David Senior Housing complex, and is one of the districts open in the November 2018 election. Together, these neighborhoods make up approximately 20 percent of the city’s population.
There are eight qualified candidates vying in three districts. Uken Report posed a series of questions to each. Following are the questions and responses from Ahmed.
Uken Report (UR): Age?
Ahmed: I do not want to state due to professional reasons. I am dealing with young people, professionally, and I do not want the prejudice of age to affect my relationship with them.
UR: Do you support or oppose Proposition 6? Why?
Ahmed: The repeal of the gas tax should not be supported. The tax goes simply for road repair. Since we do not want to drive on roads that will cause damage to our cars, and possibly cause safety issues, it should remain as it is currently. I have noticed that when gas prices go up, they rise 5 to 6 cents per gallon. When they come down, it is 1-2 cents per gallon. Ultimately, the tax does not make much difference in the amount charged.
UR: City Council races are typically nonpartisan, but this particular race seems highly partisan. There are public calls to maintain a progressive majority on the council, Party registration information is being posted on social media and more. This is your chance to set the record straight and speak for yourself. Are you liberal, conservative, or other and what that means to you and your constituents.
Ahmed: I really hate labels. They unfairly paint a picture of someone whose true value is not associated with that label. Perhaps I hate them because they do not define me in one neat package. I am financially conservative and socially liberal. I vote on issues that I believe will have the best outcome for all concerned, not party lines or philosophies. By expressing their views to me, I will vote the way the residents of my district direct me.
UR: Cathedral City has a significant LGBTQ community. What specifically have you done as a leader in the community to address the needs this segment of the population?
Ahmed: I live my life accepting everyone, believing that sexual orientation, religion and race have nothing to do with the quality of a person. I believe in an equal opportunity for everyone. I have helped students who have been conflicted and troubled by their sexual orientation. Through my Rotary club and school affiliations, I have worked with people who identify with this community respectfully and without malice.
UR: With what issue, ordinance, and project do you want your name to be most associated?
Ahmed: I want to see the homeless condition improve, setting up a collation of all Coachella Valley cities; I want downtown to be a thriving business community, with an international cultural center; and I would like to establish a no kill animal shelter, similar to the one currently established in Palm Springs.
UR: What sets you apart from your challenger(s)?
Ahmed: First of all, I am the only woman running for a Council seat. It has been established that women’s brains function differently from men’s. Also, men and women think differently. Women have smaller brains that are more tightly packed with connections. This allows them to perform better at tasks involving the bigger picture and situational thinking. A man’s brain tends to perform better at spatial thinking involving recognizing patterns and problem solving with objects in spatial environments. Having a woman on the Council will bring a better balance to decision making.
What I represent is a balanced approach to problem-solving: Not only am I concerned with the immediacy of those answers to current problems, I am also concerned with the repercussions of those answers for the future. Therefore, going forward, we must carefully base our decisions on what is best for business, what is best for the city’s image, and what is best for the citizens.