Ernesto Gutierrez, first elected to the City Council in 2018, faces two opponents in his reelection bid
CATHEDRAL CITY — When Ernesto Gutierrez first ran for office in 2018, he finished first place in a field of four candidates. Today, four years later, he is facing two challengers. One, Rick Saldivar, he has faced before. The other, David Koslow, is a political newcomer.
Each of the candidates is seeking to represent residents in District 4. The term is for four years.
Gutierrez is currently serving a one-year rotation as mayor.
Uken Report submitted identical questions to each candidate. Following are responses from Gutierrez.
Uken Report (UR) Occupation:
- I am a licensed California Real Estate Broker, Mortgage Broker, and Real Estate Investor for over thirty-four years.
- Owner of a local family-run business, “Tortillas Restaurant” located in Cathedral City since 1996.
- I am a licensed General contractor/Developer since 2002, and have built over 250 brand new homes throughout the entire Coachella Valley.
- I’m a notary public.
- Most importantly, I’m very proud to be the mayor of our wonderful city.
UR: Why specifically do you want to be on the City Council?
Gutierrez: I want to make a difference in improving our city and continuing to move it forward. I have accomplished a lot since I became a member of our city council. I believe there is more work to be done for our residents and our community. I have the following goals:
- I would like safe neighborhoods and safe schools for all our residents.
- I want to attract new businesses to our community.
- I want to continue to repair our roads.
- I want to reallocate our budgetary expenditures.
- I would like a community center for our children, youth, and seniors to enjoy.
- To build a new senior center for our citizens.
- I am interested in building a new community pool.
- Improve infrastructure & develop north of the I-10 freeway.
- I would like to start an assessment district for infrastructure north of 7-11, off Sahara Rd.
- I want to continue to develop the downtown Cathedral City area.
- I want to build infrastructure sewers, curbs, gutters, and sidewalks in underserved neighborhoods.
- I would like to have a full assessment of all city departments both fiscal and operational.
- I want accountability and transparency for all departments both fiscal and operational.
- I want to improve our parks by incorporating T-ball, and other youth-related sports.
- I want to start a capital improvement fund within our city (allocated for infrastructure, business assistance, park improvements, emergency expenses, etc.) a yearly amount of 10% of our city’s revenue.
- I want to pay down debt and increase our revenue.
- I would also like to explore the possibility of annexing the areas in the sphere of influence of our city.
UR: What do you consider your greatest accomplishments either in or out of office?
Gutierrez: There are many great accomplishments that I have been a part of, but the one that is dearest to my heart is, the naming of the new bridge on Cathedral Canyon Drive, The Ofelia Bringas Memorial Bridge. Mrs. Bringas also known as Mrs. “B,” was an incredible community leader who helped our youth by improving their lives for many decades. By doing so, she occupied our youth with after-school programs, recreational activities, sports, and various hobbies. In return, it has helped keep many of our latchkey kids safe and free from engaging in gang affiliation and prison. She helped the poor, the most vulnerable, and the underserved regardless of their race, gender, or city. She was simply an angel for our community. Sadly, she passed away many years ago, and her memory was forgotten. I decided, along with the support of many residents, friends, family, and former students in our community to memorialize her generosity, and all her wonderful achievements. This was done by naming the Ofelia Bringas Memorial Bridge in her memory. I did not want her name to simply die in vain and be forgotten. It has truly been an honor to keep her memory alive by accomplishing this wonderful achievement.
Out of Office: My greatest accomplishment has been being able to help thousands of families purchase their own homes as first-time homebuyers. From time to time, I still run into many of my former clients many of whom have become friends. It warms my heart to know that I played an instrumental role in making their American Dream come true.
UR: How do you define a leader and leadership?
Gutierrez: A leader sets direction and vision and influences others to follow your ideas. Leadership is the one that seeks other leaders to help them achieve your vision and your goals or that of an organization. We are not all geniuses and unfortunately do not always have all the answers to every problem, but with great leadership, you can achieve greatness.
UR: Do you fit this definition?
Gutierrez: Yes, I truly do fit this definition. I have proven myself over the last four years as mayor and as a council member, that I am a very strong leader. I have never put my agenda in front of my constituents. Throughout my life, I have been able to lead by example by motivating, encouraging, and respecting others. I feel that elective office is about trust and integrity along with having a meticulous background. I’m drug-free, with no prior arrests or criminal convictions, and an outstanding citizen of society. I define my traits as that of a true leader.
UR: What are your top three goals and why?
- Improve the safety of our community and schools by keeping our residents safe and free from crime. Cathedral City is a family type of community, and we must always protect our residents. We must offer a crime-free environment within our neighborhoods and our schools. We should never be afraid to go for a walk or drop off children at school, worry about their safety, or live in fear or danger.
- Improve and repair our roads. Our streets and roads are in extremely poor condition, as a council member I have advocated spending more money repairing our streets. We are currently doing this, and more money has been allocated for fixing our streets than ever before. Yet, there is still a lot more that needs to be accomplished.
- I would like to be able to do more for our children, our youth, and our seniors in our community. We are the only city in the Coachella Valley without a community center or activities that promote youth engagement. I have been advocating for a youth center, a community pool, and a senior center to have its building. We are inching closer by becoming a part of the Desert Recreational District, which will offer many amenities for all our residents.
UR: Covid-19 has taken a toll on the Coachella Valley’s economy. What specifically will you do, or are doing to help Cathedral City rebound?
Gutierrez: Cathedral City, just like all cities in the Coachella Valley was hit hard by Covid-19, but our city has financially already bounced back. As a leader, I took the necessary steps to make sure our city was ready for the shortfall in revenue. We made tough decisions to ensure our financial stability was safe by cutting expenditures. I decided to take a pay cut for an entire year. It’s been a team effort, and our city is currently in the best financial state ever. My personal experience as a business owner along with the city council as a whole has greatly contributed to our city’s prosperity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UR: You are well-known, what is one thing people don’t know about you?
Gutierrez: I feel as though my popularity has been earned because others appreciate the person I am. My honesty, genericity, and willingness to help others is always my top priority. I’ve conducted business in our local city since 1988. My family and I moved to the desert in 1981 when I was thirteen and had to learn to speak English. I grew up poor, but I had a dream to succeed. I’ve always strived to excel, and I want the same for others. Throughout my studies, I made the honor roll, had perfect attendance, and excelled academically. I received numerous awards for being a top varsity sports athlete in the hope of succeeding. I had nobody to guide me during my trajectory in life. I was the first member of my family to finish high school, attend college and become a successful businessman. My friends and family often tell me that I have broken the mold and continue to inspire the new generation of children. I believe I am the perfect example of, “The American Dream Lives in Me.”
UR: Is there one decision with City Council has made with which you strongly disagree?
Gutierrez: As a council, recently we were asked by the Agua Caliente Band of Mission Indians to sign a resolution supporting Prop 26 and Opposing Prop 27. One of my goals, when I became a council member, was to concentrate on local issues. This is a state issue but Prop 26, benefits our community. I’m not a gambler or promote gambling but it’s legal in the State of California and many others states as well. During my decision-making, I put my personal feelings aside and made the best decision for our residents and tribal members. I decided to endorse and promote Prop 26, and No on Prop 27. One out of every four employees in the Agua Caliente organization is from Cathedral City. This is a huge benefit to our residents who work for the tribe and are earning great wages. In my opinion, I feel we should support our residents and the tribe. Unfortunately, two of our council members did not agree and the resolution failed to pass. I was extremely disappointed with the outcome, but we will revisit the topic once again in another upcoming council meeting.
UR: Tell readers one good thing about each of your opponents.
Gutierrez: I do not know much about Mr. Dave Koslow.
As for Mr. Rick Saldivar, I am very pleased to see that he has embraced the ministry and is following the word of God. I know he has had many challenges to overcome because of his previous past. Finding God and preaching His word was a blessing for him and his family.
- Ernesto Guitierrez 2022: Ernesto Gutierrez