CATHEDRAL CITY — John Aguilar, who made history by becoming this city’s first Latino mayor, has confirmed he will not seek re-election in the Nov. 3 General Municipal Election,
“I have had the opportunity and extreme privilege of working on the City Council, serving the residents and businesses of Cathedral City for six years, one of them as Mayor,” Aguilar told Uken Report. “I believe it is time to step aside and give the same opportunity to new prospective candidates.”
Asked if it was a difficult decision, Aguilar said, “In the sense that I will miss the work of the Council and the interaction with the community, city staff, and colleagues in other cities, yes, it was a very difficult choice. Having said that, I do expect that I will continue to be involved in public policy issues at a regional and state level advocating on behalf of the under-served communities both here in Cathedral City and throughout the Valley.”
Aguilar said the coronavirus pandemic and resulting budget cuts played no role in his decision.
“I think our Council has done an exceptional job in maintaining essential services while making prudent budget reductions that will not affect the fabric of our community,” Aguilar said.
There is a great deal of time before the sun sets on Aguilar’s time in public office, so we posed a handful of questions — for now.
Uken Report (UR): Will you be endorsing anyone in the upcoming election? If so, who and why?
John Aguilar: Perhaps, but it is premature to say definitely until the filing period is over.
UR: John, there are several months before you leave but until then what has been your proudest moment as mayor?
John Aguilar: Tough question Cindy. There have been a few but I would have to say while serving on Council, we were able to establish Cathedral City as one of the very first cities in the region to declare itself a Sanctuary City. Witnessing former Councilman (Greg) Pettis be seated as mayor after his 23 years of public service on the Council was a high for me personally as well-in that he served the city for so many years, always putting its citizens first. As Mayor, I’m especially proud of my actions taken to help inform, educate and encourage Cathedral City citizens of all ages to stay safe and care for one another during this pandemic. My strongest desire is that all of us will continue to thrive in spite of the pandemic…long after I leave office.
UR: Biggest challenge?
John Aguilar: I think the biggest challenge was (and continues to be) to maneuver our way through this pandemic and emerge on the other side a stronger, more vibrant and more cohesive community than ever before. Hopefully we are learning to be more accepting and sensitive to our differences while building and re-emerging from this tragedy. I also think working through the Short-Term Vacation Rental debate was a huge challenge for myself, the Council, and the community at large. — this is a controversial subject globally but I believe the Council was fair in its deliberations and ultimately made the best decision that will serve our neighborhoods well into the future.
Voters first elected John Aguilar to the City Council on Nov. 8, 2016. Before that he served as an appointed member of the City Council from September 2014 to early December 2014, and again from December 2014 to December 2016 after then-Councilmember Stan Henry was elected mayor.
Aguilar accepted the council seat appointment in order to encourage greater participation from Cathedral City’s Hispanic community as well as other underrepresented communities, according to his professional city biography.
Aguilar, retired from Riverside County where he served as Deputy Director for Riverside County Economic Development Agency’s Housing Authority, is currently serving the city as an at-large representative. His term expires in December.
The position of mayor began to rotate among members of the City Council in December 2018 after the city moved . at-large elections to district-based elections. The person with the most seniority rotates into the mayor’s post.
On Nov. 3, Cathedral City will hold an election to elect two members to the City Council, one to District One and one to District Two. Both Terms are for four years and will expire in November 2024.
District 1: currently held by Rita Lamb
District 2: currently at large and held by John Aguilar
Official nomination documents for any qualified person desiring to file for District One and District Two will be available at the City Clerk’s office, during normal business hours (Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.), now through Aug. 7, 2020, by appointment only. Contact the City Clerk for an appointment at (760) 770-0322 or request one by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy Ross has announced she will seek the District 2 seat. Lamb and Alan Carvalho are eyeing the District 1 seat.
- Mayor John Aguilar: Illustration