Christy Holstege will become first female mayor of Palm Springs

PALM SPRINGS — A 34-year-old Palm Springs pregnant City Council candidate, Christy Holstege, who was the target of cruel, vicious, and ugly personal attacks on her looks, her sexuality and more has emerged victorious for a second four-year term.

Holstege, who first ran and won in 2017, was trolled and constantly harassed on social media. Some referred to her spouse, Adam Gilbert, as her “alleged” husband. She was accused of lying about being bisexual and more.

This 2020 win puts in her in line to become the first female mayor of Palm Springs. Never in Palm Springs’ 82-year history has a woman held the mayoral post. She will serve a one-year term. She will be sworn in at the Dec. 10 City Council meeting.

As of Monday evening, Nov. 9, Holstege snagged 2,322 votes besting former City Councilor Mike McCulloch who earned 1, 238 votes and Dian Torres who garnered 516 votes in the Nov.  3 election. She has held a decided lead since Election Day a week ago.

Approximately 215,000 Vote-by-Mail and 25,000 Provisional ballots still must be processed. Ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day also remain to be counted. The next updated results will be posted at 6 p.m. today, Nov. 10.

Holstege, who surrounded herself with a core all-female leadership team, will also make history as the first openly bisexual mayor in the United States, according to the Victory Fund.

This isn’t the first time the Stanford graduate has made history. In 2017, Palm Springs elected the nation’s first-ever all-LGBTQ+ city council. Joining Holstege on the five-member body was Lisa Middleton, a lesbian transgender woman whose election made her the only trans person to hold a nonjudicial position in California. Middleton finished first in the five-person race with nearly 31% of the vote, while Holstege was right behind her with slightly more than 30%. The pair joined Geoff Kors, J.R. Roberts and Robert Moon, all openly gay men, on the City Council.

Middleton ran unopposed in the Nov. 3 election.

Uken Report posed a series of questions to Holstege. Following are the questions and her responses.

Uken Report ((UR):  How does it feel to win reelection, especially given the climate of the election, the attacks on your sexuality, on your looks as a pregnant woman, and so much more?

Christy Holstege: “It feels really good. I think we sent a strong message. Our community sent a strong message that we won’t stand for negative campaigning, or sexism, or homophobia being used in local campaigns… denouncing of those types of tactics. So, I think we sent a strong message. We faced $100,000 in cash in opposition, from two sources. One from the police union, $60,000, and then $40,000 from one source to my opponent. So, I think it just shows the power of unity. We had 307 individual donors so far, and it just shows the power of the people coming together.

UR:  Why do you think the police union was so against you?

Christy Holstege: I have a strong relationship with the department. I actually have the exact same voting record as Lisa Middleton, who they endorsed, so that question is a good one. Obviously, they disagreed with my statement, that there’s a history of racism in our city, through the whole city. No department is immune from that. And that there’s history of racism in policing in the Coachella Valley, that’s an easily documented fact, if you look at Section 14.

So, I think that’s a question for them, of why they reacted so negatively and so strongly to a statement that there’s a history of racism, that there are ongoing disparate impacts in communities of color, if you look at that Loma Linda study, that shows the different outcomes in health in our black communities here. So, I think that’s a question for them, why they were so defensive, why they were so opposed to what I said. They went on the news and said that racism is not an issue they need to address. I think that the majority of Palm Springs residents disagree with them.

UR: You will become the first female mayor of Palm Springs. First of all, what does that mean to you, and do you feel any additional pressure because of that mantle you will carry?

Christy Holstege: That’s a good question. I do think that some of the pushback and the sexism that we faced in the campaign, is a result of that, right? That there’s never been a female mayor in the history of Palm Springs, in over 80 years. I believe I’m the first sitting council member… at least in recent and modern history… to give birth while serving in office. And I’ll be a mayor with a newborn. So, I do think people are not used to seeing that model. That’s why some of those attacks happen, that people said I couldn’t do my job with a newborn.

But it feels really historic. I think it belongs to the community. It’s not about me, but about achieving the next level of gender equity and representation in our city, for all of our female residents who will now be able to have a female mayor. I think it’s a really important moment, and it should have happened 80 years ago. It shouldn’t be me in 2020, it should have been lots of women who came before… fought for our city and who served as leaders. I think it’s too bad that we haven’t had a female mayor until now.

UR: You had an all-female campaign team, is that correct?

Christy Holstege: I did, yes. We had an all-female core leadership team, a huge majority, probably 95% of our entire teams. We had a lot of paid staff… core female, majority Latina, majority young, a lot of mothers. So, we are really trying to practice what we preach in terms of our leadership team.

UR:  What can we expect in terms of initiatives from a Mayor Holstege?

Christy Holstege: “My goal is to do a listening session with the community, and it’s one of my first tasks to really get the community’s input about what the council’s strategic priorities should be, and what mine should be as mayor. Obviously, we’re still dealing with the pandemic, with the economic crisis. My platform was continuing to keep our residents, and our businesses, and our workers, safe during the pandemic, ensuring that our city, and our businesses and workers, get through this crisis. And continuing to focus on homelessness and housing, and then all of our progress investing in parks and quality of life amenities for residents. But primarily we have a year to be the mayor, and I’d like to spend that time doing what the community wants from us. And I know the whole council wants that as well.


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