CATHEDRAL CITY — Shelley Kaplan, a former member of the City Council, is looking to return to the dais in a special, District 1 election in August.

He has one challenger: Rita Lamb.

Uken Report sent both candidates a series of identical questions and invited them to respond. Kaplan responded first.

His answers appear as he submitted them. They were not edited.

Uken Report (UR):

Kaplan: Let’s just say I am mature and experienced

UR: Occupation:

Kaplan: I spent 50 years in a higher education career and am the sole owner of Strategic Consulting, a higher education consulting company

UR: Why specifically are you running?

Kaplan: I want to see Cathedral City continue to improve as it has under the last Council on which I served from 2014 through 2018. We are well positioned to continue our growth in economic development, housing, services and events for our residents, infrastructure improvements, parks expansion, job creation, redevelopment of our downtown and expansion on our land on the North side of Interstate 10. Check out my platform by clicking here.

UR: City Council races are typically nonpartisan, but local races of late have been highly partisan. This is your chance to set the record straight and speak for yourself. Are you liberal, conservative, or other and what that means to you and your constituents.

Kaplan: I am a progressive. I believe that government should do what it can to provide needed services to residents in a timely manner, manage city operations in a fiscally sound way, develop and help implement long term plans for city growth that improve the environments for residents and visitors alike. While I am fiscally conservative I am very supportive of social safety nets, inclusivity, diversity, and sensitivity to environmental impacts of policies and programs.

UR: What is the most pressing issue in District 1?

Kaplan: As a council member serving at large for 4 years, while I would be representing District One, I would have the obligation to represent what is in the best interests of the City as a whole. So District One’s issues are also City-wide issues. We need to continue to address homelessness, infrastructure improvements, expansion of our parks and recreation programs, excellent public safety response and continuing drop in crime rates, short term vacation rental impacts, completion of the downtown entertainment district, and everything from expanded dining opportunities to historic preservation of key elements of the city.

UR: With what issue, ordinance, project do you want your name to be most associated?

Kaplan: My name is already associated with many projects and ordinances in the city. I believe that is why Cathedral City’s reputation has grown so fast over the past 5 years. Mayor Greg Pettis, Councilman John Aguilar, present Mayor Mark Carnevale and I worked closely together to support economic development resulting in $100’s of millions of dollars being spent on physical facility improvements, infrastructure improvements, job creation, beautification of the City, over 40 new restaurants, new events for residents and visitors, new residential construction and much more.

UR: Do you have any local government experience, serving on boards, commissions, etc.

Kaplan: Yes. I was on City Council from 2014 through 2018. I was the City’s representative on the Vector Control Board from 2014 and Treasurer and Chair of the Board during this time. I was Treasurer and Chair of the Cathedral City Senior Center Board. I represented the City on the Coachella Valley Association of Governments Transportation Committee, Conservation Commission and Energy and Environment Committee. I Chaired the Desert Community Energy Joint Powers Authority Board. I represented the City on the Riverside County Transportation Commission and the Sunline Transit Authority Board and Budget and Operations Committees. I also represented the City on the Mountains Conservancy Board and was Chair last year.

UR: What sets you apart from your challenger?

Kaplan: She is a neighbor of mine and I brought her on the Senior Center Board. I think the primary difference is that I have a great deal more experience than her given my contributions to the community over the past 5 years and can hit the ground running to carry on the work started by the last council to move Cathedral City forward and continue to make it a better place to live, play and work.

UR: You are running to fill the vacancy created by the late Mayor Gregory S. Pettis. Do you feel any obligation or commitment to the issues he championed? If so, what specifically and why?

Kaplan: Greg and I were colleagues and friends. He and I agreed on many policy and procedure issues and while no one has the breadth and experience of his 24 years on council I would be honored to help carry on his legacy. Given my experience in education, both he and I agreed that the future of our youth and our society is dependent on being provided opportunities for education and training that provide meaningful career development possibilities.

UR: Depending on your answer above, how will you chart your own course and carve out your own identity?

Kaplan: I already have, review my record and video of meetings for the past 4 years.

UR: Do you support banning Safe and Sane Fireworks in Cathedral City? Why or why not?

Kaplan: Yes, I moved to ban them the first year I was in office but could not get 2 additional votes to support my motion at that time. We are a desert with very high fire danger risks, we have animals and community members who react quite negatively to loud sounds like fireworks. While Safe and Sane do not make loud noises, having them available encourages use of illegal fireworks. I support our Fire Chief in recommending that they be banned.

UR: Do you support a police substation on the north side of the city? Why or why not?

Kaplan: Yes, as the city grows and more development happens on the North side of Interstate 10 along with the possible incorporation of Thousand Palms, we will need a substation there, but at present the existing staffing plan provides good coverage of the City.

UR: Do you support hiring AMR to serve as the city’s ambulance service? Why or why not?

Kaplan: No I do not. Greg and I supported expanding the Fire Department staff needed levels to recoup the staffing we lost when the economic downturn affected the city. We did this using both general funds and grant funds but we felt it was also critical for us to not only maintain our ambulance service but to maintain the level of service though continued use of Paramedics and not just EMT’s. 70-80% of our fire department calls are for medical emergencies. The new staffing provided for at least 3 paramedics to be on site for any call and this is appropriate for the quality of level of service our residents want and deserve.

UR: If you win, you will fill the remainder of Pettis’ term, which would end in December 2020. Would you seek re-election?

Kaplan: Yes

Image Sources

  • Shelley Kaplan: Alan Carvalho