CATHEDRAL CITY – Two weeks after the Riverside County Registrar of Voters certified the results of the August special District 1 City Council election, former City Councilmember Shelley Kaplan stopped just short of saying he will run in November 2020.
“There is another election in 2020, which is right around the corner, so residents will again have a chance to make their preferences known and in the next election, since (it) is a presidential election year and on a normal November schedule, the voter turnout will be more than double what we have just seen,” Kaplan told the City Council during public comments.
Political newcomer Rita Lamb won the election by 3 percentage points, garnering 645 votes. Kaplan received 606 votes in the vote-by-mail-only election. She will fulfill the remaining term of the late Mayor Gregory S. Pettis, which expires in 2020, so Lamb will have about a year in office. She told Uken Report during the campaign that if she won, she would seek re-election.
In a 3-minute address to the City Council during Public Comments on Wednesday, Sept. 26, Kaplan called on residents of District 1 and the city at large “to keep an eye on the Council’s actions going forward and make sure their representatives are focused on their issues and concerns.”
Kaplan, in a calm and measured tone, referred to the bungled appointment process in which applications were sought. Kaplan called the process a “sham” and said he feared that some members of the Council had lost the trust of their constituents.
The City Council ultimately scrapped that plan in favor of a special election.
“This process was problematic for many residents starting with the Council discussions in January and February and running through this special election process, which was at an unusual time of year, during a peak vacation time and established as a unique mail-in only ballot election” Kaplan told the City Council on Wednesday. “As a result we saw a low voter response.”
Though he never mentioned her by name or her actions, it was clear Kaplan was speaking of Lamb and her claims that she was “frightened” by Alan Carvalho, Kaplan’s spouse. She claimed she was so scared that Lamb, advised by some of her supporters, filed a request for a restraining order against Carvalho. The day after the election, when she was ahead in the vote count, she no longer seemed to be afraid and dropped her request.
“This is a time of intense political division in our society and in our city, which is being exacerbated by what is happening in Washington, D.C.,” Kaplan said in speaking to the City Council. “It seems as though it is now common practice to use whatever means is available to win an election with the ends justifying the means.”
Kaplan continued, “I am proud to say that I ran a clean campaign from beginning to end because that is who I am. I am a fair, reasoned, practical and honest person; I touted my own positive record on Council …. I ran my campaign on issues: economic development, education and career development, jobs, public safety, attention to homelessness, support for small businesses, expanded health care services, the need for a community center, and addressing neighborhood issues.”
Kaplan said he hope that Lamb will recognize the issues that arose from this campaign and will do her best to prove herself as a member of Council for this coming 15 months.
“What goes with winning is a tremendous responsibility to the city and its residents, the valley and county organizations we are part of along with a significant time commitment to represent the city in dozens of events and activities across the valley,” Kaplan said. “Being a Councilperson is not about the individual, it is about making a fervent commitment to do what is best for the City. I also hope that Mrs. Lamb and her supporters will play an important role in encouraging the voters to support inclusion of Cathedral City into the Desert Recreation District in the 2020 election.”
Finally, Kaplan said, this is a novice Council with limited experience. Both Raymond Gregory and Ernesto Gutierrez were elected in November. Each has less than a year on the City Council. Lamb is the latest newcomer.
“It is critical that this Council works together and with its residents to develop and implement a progressive and achievable vision for Cathedral City that creates an inclusive environment for all its residents, provides safety nets and support for those in need and develops opportunities for economic development, jobs, career paths and housing that keep the city moving forward,” Kaplan said.
Mayor Mark Carnevale told Uken Report that he believes there is a “good council” in place. Moreover, he said, “It will keep the city moving forward.”
- shelley_kaplan__001: Cathedral City Council Video