CATHEDRAL CITY — On the evening of Jan. 9, 2019, the nearly empty City Council Chambers became ground zero for a defining moment in compassionate politics.
On that particular night, as the meeting drew to a close, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, gays and heterosexuals became invisible as compassionate politics stole the spotlight.
With then-Mayor Gregory S. Pettis slurring and stumbling over his words, it was obvious to anyone in the audience or at home listening and watching, that the mayor was in medical distress.
As Pettis struggled to stand, then-Mayor Pro Tem Mark Carnevale and then-Councilmember John Aguilar, without hesitation, reached to lend a hand. The look on each of their faces tells you everything you need to know. Carnevale, a conservative, heterosexual man and Aguilar, an openly gay progressive, leaned on their compassion — not their politics to do the right thing.
It was a remarkable sight.
Pettis was transported that night to Eisenhower Health where he died on Jan. 15.
As the rhetoric and accusations reached fever pitch last week in upcoming special election the District 1, we were reminded of a moment in Cathedral City when politics, gender, sexuality and personalities were cast aside for the good of a human being.
The special election has been pockmarked with accusations of vandalism, theft, copyright infringement, tilting a proposed forum in favor of one candidate over another, and more. It was politics at its worst.
Long forgotten were the compassionate politics of Jan. 9.
The two candidates in the Special Election in District 1 — Shelley Kaplan and Rita Lamb —are neighbors who have long been friendly with — and to — one another.
The irony of the sniping, accusations, and bitter attacks is that they will fill the seat Pettis left vacant. He left the City Council Chambers with the embrace of two of his colleagues.
Some perspective is desperately needed in this race. This a local City Council race, Nothing more. Nothing less. The winner will join four other City Councilmembers and a talented, hard-working city staff. The person elected will have no more and no less power than any other member on the City Council.
Put away the verbal boxing gloves and accusations and try practicing compassionate politics. You never know when it might be your last chance.
- Mayor Gregory S. Pettis: City of Cathedral City