CATHEDRAL CITY — Raymond Gregory, 54, a retired Riverside County assistant sheriff, is one of two people seeking a single seat in District 5 in the November election. Laura Ahmed is also seeking the seat.

District 5 is comprised of the Panorama and La Pasada neighborhoods, as well as the southern and western portions of Rio Vista and the Park David Senior Housing complex, and is one of the districts open in the November 2018 election. Together, these neighborhoods make up approximately 20 percent of the city’s population.

Both candidates received identical questions. Following are the questions and Gregory’s responses.

Uken Report (UR): Do you support or oppose Proposition 6?

Gregory: Although I think voters should choose for themselves based on their own individual circumstances, I am going to vote “No” on Proposition 6.  Why? Like most people, I hate paying more taxes, and I hate bad roads. But it’s going to take funding to make needed repairs and improvements, so we are going to have to come up with the money somewhere. Until we find a better solution, the existing tax seems to be the only hope we have in addressing some of the backlog of road repairs. The focus needs to remain on the close management of whatever funding is generated, locally and statewide, to squeeze the maximum amount of good out of what is collected and direct funding to the projects needed most.

UR: City Council races are typically nonpartisan, but this particular race seems highly partisan. There are public calls to maintain a progressive majority on the council, Party registration information is being posted on social media and more. This is your chance to set the record straight and speak for yourself. Are you liberal, conservative, or other and what that means to you and your constituents.

Gregory: I am socially progressive and fiscally conservative. I believe all people should be treated with kindness, dignity and respect, regardless of their life circumstances, and deserve equal access to city services no matter where they were born, their income, gender, race, religion, or who they love. When it comes to spending money, especially taxpayer money, I believe every penny counts and expenses should be scrutinized to produce the maximum results, prioritizing the most important needs first and making sure we build appropriate reserves to keep essential services alive and healthy during economic downturns.  I believe these approaches complement each other.

UR: Cathedral City has a significant LGBTQ community. What specifically have you done as a leader in the community to address the needs this segment of the population?

Gregory: As a member of the LGBT community myself, I have been contributing in many ways for years. Until my retirement last year from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, I served for more than 5 years as the LGBT community liaison for the Department, monitoring needs and handling requests from throughout the County, including providing training, speaking engagements, and working with the Sheriff and community on policy review and revisions. One of my favorite memories was my annual visit to one of the local prison facilities with local activist George Zander, before his untimely passing, sharing my personal story and encouraging staff to embrace diversity of all kinds. One of my other favorite activities has been volunteering at events for Safe Schools Desert Cities, the local group that supports gay-straight alliances in the local schools, promotes anti-bullying efforts, and creates educational and fun activities for LGBT youth and allies. My husband also volunteers with Safe Schools and currently serves on the Safe Schools Board of Directors. He and I were honored in 2015 with the Safe Schools “Champions for Youth” award for our work with the group. Most recently, this past June I volunteered as Safe Schools’ Summer Camp director, working with a dedicated group of other volunteers to provide 28 high school and college-age youth with leadership training and a time of camaraderie with fellow LGBT students and allies in a camp environment located among the pines in our local mountains.

UR: With what issue, ordinance, project do you want your name to be most associated?

Gregory: What I would like to be known for is as a leader and team member that helps move Cathedral City into an era of economic development like has never seen before; one in which empty storefronts are filled with a diverse number of thriving retailers, where the potential of our west-valley city is realized in attracting high quality tourism and entertainment-based businesses, and where other clean industries that offer good paying jobs are drawn to the city due, in part, to the wise and steady business decisions made by the city council and staff, making Cathedral City a place that people drive to, not just drive through. I would like to be known as a leader that helps direct funds created by growing economic activity back into the city’s neighborhoods with increased public safety, roads and infrastructure, recreational and learning opportunities, and to resolve tax inequities caused by past questionable financial schemes, like the Panorama and Century Park taxes.

UR: What sets you apart from your challenger(s)?

Gregory: The primary factors that make me the best choice for the city council are leadership, experience and the proven ability to work with a team to get things done. I served more than 27 years with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, including assignments as the Police Chief for both the Coachella and La Quinta Police Departments, before retiring as Assistant Sheriff. My experience in municipal governments, as a worker, supervisor and manager, and ability to get results through teamwork are invaluable to being able to quickly join the city council and begin working with the team to keep the city moving forward and addressing the needs of our neighborhoods. I also have an extensive business education, including master’s and bachelor’s degrees in management, have been a resident in my district for over 20 years, and have the support of the current Cathedral City mayor and all the councilmembers. This combination of leadership, experience, and proven teamwork make me the best choice for Cathedral City District 5.