Joel Kinnamon will be confirmed as the next representative for Area 4, he says

RANCHO MIRAGE — Although the Riverside County Registrar of Voters continues to count the remaining votes, Joel Kinnamon has declared victory in the race for Desert Community College District for Area 4.  Ever since election night, Kinnamon’s lead against the incumbent, Aurora Wilson, has continued to widen with every new vote total released.

His path to victory is now assured with an 8% lead over his opponent and Dr. Kinnamon will be confirmed as the next representative for Area 4, according to a news release.

“I want to thank the voters for their overwhelming support.  It is starkly apparent that they, too, believed that the college was headed in the wrong direction, and now, it is time to get COD back on track,” Kinnamon said in a statement.  “I pledge to be 100% transparent with constituents and the media, collaborate with faculty, staff and students, listen to the community’s concerns, and enact policies and plans that were promised to the voters.  As the former president/superintendent, I know the history of the college and the processes to get us there and get us there quickly.”

Area 4 of Desert Community College District (COD) includes the eastern side of Cathedral City, the western side of La Quinta, and most of Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Indian Wells.

Kinnamon and Rubén Pérez, representing Trustee Area 1, have both led in the vote tallies since Election Day. To that end, Uken Report reached out to both candidates with three questions. Following are Kinnamon’s responses. Pérez did not respond.

Uken Report (UR): To what do you attribute your victory in these hard-fought contests?

Joel Kinnamon: It is apparent that the majority of the voters believed that COD was heading in the wrong direction after I retired as president/superintendent back in March 2021.  The exemplary college team was prepared to continue the college trajectory of excellence. However, the board had more difficulty relying on their expertise and giving in to political pressures, no better example would be Roadrunner Motors in Cathedral City that was canceled, without any warning to the public or city elected officials about a year ago.  It took public outcry, led by Cathedral City and community members, to get COD to reverse its course.  By then, the public trust had already been broken and the delayed construction costs were mounting. Unfortunately, information about the project and the cancellation was misrepresented to the public and the community soon realized that decisions were being made behind closed doors.

UR: It’s no secret there is bad blood between you two. How will you heal that rift?

Joel Kinnamon: I think rhetoric can get heated and competitive during a campaign, but now that the voters have spoken, it is our duty to serve not only our districts but also for the entire Desert Community College District service area.  You may not always agree with the person you work with, but you must operate in a professional manner and let bygones be bygones. Data driven decision making focusing on community needs are essential in
order to prevent political agendas to undermine the public interests, needs and trust.

UR: What do you think the first action of the newly constituted board should be?

Joel Kinnamon: First action of the board is to pledge our commitment to the public to operate with complete transparency in order to restore the public’s trust and get COD back on track winning national awards and being the fastest growing community college in the state with students excelling in academic metrics. Most importantly, we must commit to members of our local communities that they have the opportunity to make their dreams a reality.  It is critical that we support all residents within the Desert Community College District. Our entire community benefits when we join hands to elevate all households and businesses that make our local economy thrive.

UR: Anything specific you would like to add?

Joel Kinnamon: I want to thank the voters in Area 4 who supported me and believed in my previous and successful leadership.  I will strive to earn the trust of those who voted for my opponent.  Although there may be some turbulence coming as we shed light on how we got to where we are today, I am committed to getting COD back to smooth sailing.  I have been in this position before, back in 2012 when I started serving as COD’s president/superintendent and faced numerous scandals and controversies handed to me.

As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, approximately 84,000 Vote-by-Mail and 10,000 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. Tuesday, Nov. 15.




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