Jan Harnik, first elected to the Palm Desert City Council in 2010, vies for another term

PALM DESERT — Jan Harnik, who is currently serving a one-year rotation as mayor of this community, is one of five candidates seeking one of two seats on the City Council in the Nov. 8 election. Both seats are four-year terms. If elected, she would represent District 2.

The seats are currently held by Harnik and Mayor Pro Tem Sabby Jonathan, who is not seeking reelection.

In addition to Harnik, the others vying for the pair of seats are Carlos Garcia, Gregg Akkerman, Gregory Meinhardt and Evan Trubee.

District 2 comprises about 80% of the population, from which four Council members are elected. One Council member is elected from a downtown district, or District 1.

Only District 2 voters will decide on Nov. 8 who will fill the chairs on the dais, but all residents will be asked whether Palm Desert should switch from two to five voting districts.

This will be Palm Desert’s first election with ranked-choice voting, which was implemented as part of a lawsuit agreement, allows voters to rank up to three candidates by preference.

Palm Desert is the first in Riverside County to make the change to a ranked-choice system, though it has been used in a few California cities, including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.

Uken Report (UR) posed identical questions to all qualified candidates. All responded except Meinhardt.

UR: Occupation

Jan Harnik: Palm Desert Mayor, Property Manager

UR: Who or what motivated to run for City Council at this time?

Jan Harnik: Palm Desert is a well-run, beautifully maintained city with strong reserves. We have wonderful projects recently completed, in process, and in the works. Projects such as the San Pablo corridor, took several years to complete – it was worth the effort and serves as motivation. Other projects such as the CSU student center, extensive housing, broadband connectivity, the CV train, etc., are exciting and I am positioned to continue the effort to complete each one.

UR: What makes you a better candidate than your opponent(s)?

Jan Harnik: My experience and knowledge of our city is invaluable.  Understanding the relationships between cities, the county, and the region is critical to good governance and facilitates our region’s access to resources and grants. I serve as President of the Southern California Association of Governments, which puts our region in the spotlight providing resources for intelligent growth.

UR: What can you bring to the City Council that is currently missing?

Jan Harnik: I will continue to bring reason, experience, civility, and perspective to the council.

UR: What is the single most important endorsement you have and why?

Jan Harnik: I would characterize all my endorsements as important! I have earned each endorsement and am appreciative of those who support me and recognize my dedication to service.

UR: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment either in or out of office?

 Jan Harnik: Raising five children in Palm Desert is certainly at the top of the list. As a life-long learner and community participant, I know there is plenty more to achieve and share.

UR: What is the single biggest issue facing Palm Desert and why?

Jan Harnik: That question is often asked, and the answer is elusive.  When asked during the last election, I didn’t answer “a pending pandemic” and yet that was the biggest issue. The unknown is always the biggest issue.

UR: What will you propose to do about it?

Jan Harnik: Palm Desert fared well during the pandemic.  Strong and thoughtful adherence to longtime values, i.e., fiscal responsibility, public safety, quality education, and transparent government, have positioned Palm Desert to be able to respond quickly, skillfully, and with care, to address the needs and challenges that our community may encounter.

UR: Is there one decision with City Council has made with which you strongly disagree? If so, what was it and why?

Jan Harnik: I have not always been on the winning side of a council vote/decision, but I always come to the meeting and discussion well-prepared, having studied staff reports and with input from our community. Once a decision is made, it is our responsibility to support the decision and implement it in the best interests of the community.

UR: You are all well-known. What is one thing people don’t know about you?

Jan Harnik: I updated my ethics training (AB1234) and in the session, it mentioned that in today’s world it seems that everyone knows everything about everyone and especially in the case of elected officials. I would agree with that. My life is an open book.





Image Sources

  • Jan Harnik: Jan Harnik