COACHELLA — Emmanuel Martinez, who is current serving as mayor pro tem, is seeking re-election to a four-year term on the City Council. He is 37 and works for the Imperial Irrigation District in governmental affairs.

He is one of four people seeking two open seats. The others are Neftali Galarza, Denise Delgado, and Philip Bautista.

Uken Report posed a series of identical questions to all candidates. Following are the responses from Emmanuel Martinez.

Uken Report (UR): What is your motivation for running?

Emmanuel Martinez: I am motivated to run because I have deep roots in this community and feel that my unique work and life experience and education has provided me with the skill sets to help move Coachella forward. Having grown up in a farmworker family, I understand what many hardworking families in my community face. But thanks to my parents’ hard work and sacrifices, I was able to get an education and do what I’m doing today. However, despite the recent progress in Coachella, there is more work to do. As a husband and a father of two, I want to ensure we have stability and responsible growth, so that families in Coachella can prosper and have increased access to opportunities that improve quality of life. My family, love for my community and passion to serve are my main motivating factors for running.

UR: What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?

Emmanuel Martinez: All candidates bring a unique perspective and skill set. However, I believe I bring the experience and knowledge to continue to attract new projects and resources while ensuring the reliability of the critical essential services the City provides. My experience working in affordable housing, the State Legislature and now for a public utility has provided me insight and knowledge on a wide range of topics that are important to my community. Being able to connect the dots at all levels of government and advocate for the City is important, but holding true to your community’s values without compromise is even more so, and I feel I bring that and the skills, passion and humility to represent Coachella residents.

UR: What one project or issue do you want to see addressed in your term?

Emmanuel Martinez: The one project I want to ensure is completed is the Avenue 50 interchange and extension, which will create jobs and open new growth opportunities in the eastern part of the City. Coachella is the only City out of the nine in the Coachella Valley that does not have a direct connection to the I-10, losing out on potential revenue. This inequity has been addressed and the City has been working with various partners and has secured $50 million out the $100 million needed to complete this project. This project will bring growth and increased opportunities to Coachella that I would like to see addressed in my term, and I’m committed to continue pushing to complete this project.

UR: If someone walked up to you and told you that Coachella was the worst place to live in California, what would your response be?

Emmanuel Martinez: I would say that obviously you’ve never been to, or know anyone from, Coachella. Because if they did know of someone, or have been here, they would appreciate what it has to offer. First and foremost, Coachella and its people have a unique flare, attitude and pride due to the history, culture and struggles of the people of this community. Coachella and it’s human capital is priceless. Coachella is a place where neighbors treat each other like family, and this is manifested in our places of worship of varying denominations, at our local parks, at City events and authentic Mexican restaurants, which leads me to just that. If not its people, Coachella has the most authentic Mexican food by far than any other City. I’ve been to Mexican restaurants in the West valley, ones that do not cater to Mexicans or Latinos, and their food is not up to par. So two, the food. Third, Coachella is an affordable, family friendly and young community, with diverse housing opportunities and with some of the best parks this valley has to offer.

UR If you could require every Coachella resident to do one thing, what would that one thing be?

Emmanuel Martinez: If I could, I would require every person to stay home during this pandemic. Unfortunately, for many of our families, that is not a possibility. Therefore, we must do what is within our resources to protect families. We have enacted eviction protections, allocated CARES funds for mortgage and rent relief, including utility assistance, placed a moratorium on disconnects, and distributed free masks. But of course, more is needed.

UR: The entire Coachella Valley has taken a huge financial hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. What needs to be done to help Coachella recover?

Emmanuel Martinez: First, we need to keep Coachella residents safe to reduce transmission and infection rates. This is critical so that it can help the County meet the metrics it needs to reopen. Simultaneously, we need to continue to move on projects, utilizing all health guidelines, to not stymie economic development. For instance, we have been working on the 105 unit mixed-use affordable housing development on the corner of Sixth Street and Cesar Chavez which is set to break ground September 17. Also, we have the Urban Greening Project on Grapefruit Boulevard that will break ground soon thereafter. These projects are multi-million dollar investments in our community that are important to help keep our economy moving.

UR: Tell us one good quality your opponent possesses.

Emmanuel Martinez: They both have nice smiles, but Neftali Galarza possesses and has demonstrated his commitment and ability to being a humble and effective public servant.

UR: You are all well known, tell us one thing about yourself no one knows.

Emmanuel Martinez: I’ve been cutting my own hair during the pandemic.

UR: What is the single biggest issue facing Coachella and what would you do to address it?

Emmanuel Martinez: The singles biggest issue facing the City is economic development. We need to continue to work to ensure that we attract the businesses that our community wants so that our residents have good paying jobs and our tax dollars stay in our community. This will help the City’s revenue and ability to provide quality services and at the same time attract new jobs. As Chair of the Economic Development Committee, we have been working to bring in the cannabis industry, worked to bring hotels and increase housing opportunities. We have also incorporated the arts, music and culture into our economic development strategy, which will help promote and retain our  rich culture and values while capitalizing on the name “Coachella” which is known all over the world. Over the years, I have seen an increased number of tourists visit Coachella’s murals, restaurants and other businesses. We need to continue to adopt creative strategies to improve the socioeconomics of our residents while attracting tourism, businesses and jobs.

Image Sources

  • Emmanuel Martinez: Emmanuel Martinez