CATHEDRAL CITY – Members of the City Council, at least to date, have said they are not prepared to endorse anyone in the upcoming August special election, but they are clearly leaving wiggle room.
At least two residents of District 1 have said they will seek the seat left vacant by the late Gregory S. Pettis who died in January. The two are former City Councilmember Shelley Kaplan and Rita Lamb, a retired former school Principal of the Year in the Desert Sands Unified School District. She has also been co-hosting Coachella Thriving on KCOD.
With more than two weeks before the Nominating Period closes on Thursday, May 30, councilors are taking a wait-and-see approach on whether they will endorse anyone.
Mayor Mark Carnevale, who represents District 3, said he is looking forward to having a five-member City Council seated in the fall. He told Uken Report that he is not endorsing at this time, leaving himself wiggle room to endorse later — if he chooses.
This is a District 1 decision and all applicants should promote themselves by sharing their abilities, ideas, experience and the platform on which they are running, Carnevale said.
“I think the fairest way for me to work comfortably with the next councilperson is for me to be unbiased. That shouldn’t be my decision on who sits on the Council. That should be up to the residents of District 1 and I decided to leave it up to the residents of District 1. I can work with anybody up there. There might be a third party. We don’t know. At this time, I’d rather stay out of it.”
However, Carnevale said, if something comes up “where I really have an issue with a policy or a view, then I might, at that particular time, change my mind and endorse. Until I actually hear what they are running on, I can’t make a decision on who to endorse. Now, I sat next to Shelley for four years. We agreed and we disagreed. I’d like to have that option with the next Councilperson as well. So, until I know more about Rita Lamb, I think it’s only fair I learn more about her.”
When Carnevale sought re-election in November, the entire City Council – former Mayor Stan Henry, Pettis, John Aguilar, and Kaplan endorsed him.
Asked whether he felt an obligation to now endorse Kaplan, Carnevale said, “No, for the reasons I just stated. Sure, Shelley endorsed me, but that was a different time, a different scenario. How would you say it? The game changed. Things changed. It’s not your typical election. I just have to say things have changed. That was then, this is now.”
Carnevale said he hopes for a peaceful campaign in which candidates share their thoughts on the issues that really matter to residents of Cathedral City rather than attacking one another.
“The residents we heard from in District 1 indicated they wanted to choose a councilmember themselves to represent them, not the council,” District 5 Councilmember Raymond Gregory told Uken Report. “I am pleased it appears multiple candidates are running for the seat so the voters will have a choice, and I trust they will select the candidate they feel is best for them.”
With that said, Gregory added, “I do expect I will support at least one of the candidates, but will leave it up to them and their campaigns to share that support if they wish.”
Councilmember Ernesto Gutierrez, who represents District 3, said, “I’m planning on waiting to see who is going to be running to fill the vacancy. No one has approached me yet for my endorsement. I shall wait until the signing up period is up.”
Mayor Pro Tem Aguilar told Uken Report he will not endorse in the contest.
According to the demographics for District 1, at the time the city drew the new district maps, there was a total population of 10,051 with 3,276 registered voters, according to City Clerk Tracey Martinez. This information was based on the 2014 Election, which is the numbers they used. Martinez said she does believe the numbers have changed dramatically.
- Mayor Mark Carnevale: Mark Carnevale
- Endorse: Shutterstock