LA QUINTA — Doug Hassett, a partnership specialist with the United States Census Bureau and Department of Commerce, is seeking a seat on the Deserts Sands Unified School District’s Board of Education to represent Area 3.

Seats in  Trustee Areas 1, 3 and 4 are up for grabs in the Nov. 3 election. The seats are now held by Wendy Jonathan,  board member, Trustee Area 1; Gary Tomak, board member, Trustee Area 3; and Linda Porras, president, Trustee Area 4.  All of their terms expire in December 2020. You may see the respective areas here.

Tomak is not seeking re-election to the seat, he confirmed.


Gary Tomak

“It has been a wonderful 20 year experience serving on the Desert Sands School Board helping academics improve, closing the achievement gap, and offering more choices for students,” Tomak told Uken Report, “My wife Judy and I will be continuing our travels throughout  the world.”

“I believe Doug Hassett would be an excellent addition to the board,” Tomak said.

Several weeks ago,  Hassett told Uken Report, a member of the school board and a local city councilmember approached him, asking if he would consider running for the position.

“Of course it was an honor to be asked and I was excited about the possibility of furthering my service to the community,” Hassett said. “I learned a long time ago that opportunity doesn’t come knocking every day, and when it does, if there is a chance to serve others it should be seriously considered.   Looking at this opportunity, I couldn’t see a down side and made the decision to start a campaign.”

Hassett is no stranger when it comes to seeking public office. A member of the Republican Party, he ran for election to the U.S. House to represent California’s 36th Congressional District. He lost in the primary election on June 5, 2018. Incumbent Democratic Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., went on to win re-election.

In 2014, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the La Quinta City Council.

He currently serves as vice president of Board of Trustees for the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.

“Children are truly the future…so enabling teachers with the best tools to teach, offering children the best and safest environment to learn, and encouraging parents to be engaged, is paramount for student success,” Hassett said.  “From experience, I understand building, negotiating, and creating solutions that fit. I understand budgets and how to navigate fiscal constraints.  I want our tax dollars to be spent in the classroom, where they make a difference. I’ll offer clear reasoning and strong leadership, to ensure your voice is heard.  As a member of your school board, I will be a conduit for your hopes and concerns.”

Hassett’s campaign message is broken down into five key areas of thought:

Students & Teachers: Our children/students are really the stars, the rest of us, teachers and administration on down, just play supporting roles.  Concerning teachers, they work hard, they deserve the best in teaching tools, and certainly deserve to be paid for their hard work.  Most teachers work far beyond their job descriptions.

Safety & Security – Just a few short years ago as a small business owner, and in the security industry, I provided thousands of security assessments for multiple market segments.  Including, education, health care, industry and the US Military.  Every job was about using the best practices of the day to protect the facility and occupants within.  First and foremost, I want to make sure our schools are safe, and the students have a secure environment for learning.

Creating Solutions – Having grown up part of my on a farm, and being a 4H kid, I learned to work hard very early in life.  I really know what it takes to build and fix, and have learned how to think outside the box to create workable solutions.  For the last five years as La Quinta’s appointee to the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control Board of Trustees, I have had a chance to combine all of my life experiences to fill this position.  Having been both president and vice president, I have gained great board experience, including, negotiating with two different unions.   Creating solutions for all points concerned, I work with others focusing on fiscal constraint and balancing the budget.

Building Value – I have never forgotten my first job right out of college.  I was hired to help manage a beautiful restaurant that was part of national chain.  One of the first things my boss impressed upon me, was that customers were never going to visit once and come back again, because of the beautiful paintings on the walls and wonderful décor.  They would come back, because we spent our money to put great food on the plate, and on the people to prepare it.  Having never forgotten this important business axiom, I view our classrooms in the same light.  As a Desert Sands School Board member, I will place great importance on spending our tax dollars in the classroom.  In this, parents, students and teachers, will be the beneficiaries of value.

Going back to school – I have to imagine that every parent wants to know what I think about our children and going back to school.  I wish all the students in the district were able to start school and be in the classroom.  I think being in a classroom with friends and having live instruction is best for everyone.  BUT, these being the very different times that they are, starting the school year via distance learning is the most prudent.  Covid-19 is still killing people on a daily basis, and although I’m starting to see improvements, my security background, and my board position that revolves around public health, tell me this is a good time to be conservative.

“These are very trying times, I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve never seen anything like it.  In my current employment, where I was hired to be in front of people and build community partnerships for the United States Census Bureau, instead I’ve been locked in my home office,” Hassett said.  “One way or another, it’s been difficult.  Every day, we are all confronted with such negativity, and individually it can take a toll.  I’m not a psychologist or pastor, but at this point I would tell everyone, BE HOPEFUL.  If what you are listening to, continues to tell you it’s going to get worse before it gets better, reject that, BE HOPEFUL.  Your children/students will be fine, if you project hope.”

To contact  Hassett, email him at

For more information about this election, contact the Registrar of Voters office at (951) 486-7200 or (800) 773-8683.

Image Sources

  • Gary Tomak: DSUSD
  • Doug Hassett: Doug Hassett