CATHEDRAL CITY – No stranger to local government and it processes, John A. Rivera, a licensed architect, is looking to move up from the city Planning Commission and Architectural Review Committee to a four-year term on the City Council in District 4.

Rivera, 58, is a licensed architect in the state of California and has been in the profession since 1979. His work portfolio includes medical, education, civic, religious, commercial and multi-family residential facilities.

“My profession’s required my interaction with a multitude of building, planning and fire department officials at the state, county and city level, including City Council, planning commissions and Historic Preservation committees. These interactions have required my direct participation in public forums with citizens, neighborhood groups and various committees,” Rivera told Uken Report.

Rivera has served on the Planning Commission for six years and was the Chair for the past two years. He also served on the Architectural Review Committee since 2007 where he continues to serve as Committee Chair, fitting for an architect. He also served on the city’s Historic Preservation Task Force during which time he wrote the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance to be adopted as part of the current zoning ordinance.

“Nearly four decades in this profession has given me the opportunity to build lasting relationships with business owners, developers and government officials at all levels,” Rivera said. “Equally important is having the technical experience of developing innovative design solutions to projects within the project budget.”

As a self-described liberal Democrat and an Evangelical Christian, Rivera said that means we live in a diverse global community but that we are also all God’s Children.

“I believe that helping the disadvantaged and fostering business prosperity need not be at odds with one another,” he said. “I also believe we should all take responsibility for ourselves and that the laws of our Constitution apply to all equally.  As a Democrat I embrace the ideal of diversity and of giving a free voice to all, even to those I may disagree with.  As an Evangelical Christian I believe there are many paths to salvation as God speaks to us through many voices so that we may find our faith.”

The November election will be the first time residents in Cathedral City have voted in districts. The idea behind it is to encourage more Latino participation.

Diversity is always a good thing, but it should never be the only reason a voter would choose to vote for any single candidate, not even me, Rivera said. He said he has lived in Cathedral City long enough to have seen the City Council made up of varying levels of diversity and gender including the current City Council, which includes one Latino.

“What matters is that you have to recognize that Cathedral City is a very diverse community ethnically, socially, politically, economically, religiously and even in both gender and sexual identity,” Rivera said. “District 4 may be the most diverse  when you compare the economic and ethnic differences between those in the Dream Homes Community and those residing in the Cimarron and Desert Princess Communities.”

The challenge is to help advance the lives of residents in any single community without sacrifice to the other, Rivera said.   There has to be a balanced approach to residents in one community who may be business owners with others who may be concerned with losing their home through the growing gentrification of their neighborhood.  At the same time all residents should benefit equally from the same level of public service and safety.

The reason he is running is clear, he said.

“If you believe in yourself, if you take pride in your community and you believe you can make a difference, then there’s never a doubt that you should act on it,” Rivera said.

Rivera, his wife and two children moved to Cathedral City in 1986 when they built their first home in the Panorama neighborhood back when it was made up roughly of 90 percent vacant lots and blowing sand. The architect and his wife and have lived in their current home in Cathedral City at the Desert Princess since 2006.

“We had a dream and this was where it started,” Rivera said.

As of Monday, residents in District 4 who say they intend to run are:

  • Enrique “Rick” Saldivar, associate pastor at Destiny Church
  • Ernesto Gutierrez, a real estate broker and investor, a developer and contractor, and the owner of Tortillas Restaurant.
  • Sergio Espericueta, automotive service manager at Walmart

District 4 includes Desert Princess Country Club, Outpost and the Dream Homes.

None of the above residents are qualified candidates at this time.  The official Nomination Period begins July 16, 2018 and ends on Aug. 10, 2018.  During the Nomination Period individuals will have the opportunity to pull papers and collect signatures on their Nomination Paper.  Once all of the signatures have been verified and the proper documents filed, then they would be considered a qualified candidate.

The three seats up for election this year are currently held by Mayor Stan Henry, Mark Carnevale and Shelley Kaplan. The two remaining seats now held by Greg Pettis and John Aguilar will be open in 2020.