Jan Harnik, 62, is a member of the Palm Desert City Council and a businesswoman. She is seeking the Riverside County Fourth District Supervisor seat now held by Manuel “Manny” Perez. He was appointed last year following the death of John J. Benoit.
Voters will choose a winner in this race on June 5.
Each candidate was given identical questions to answer. Their responses appear in their entirety and were not edited.
1. Exactly why are you running?
On the Palm Desert City Council, I balanced every budget, built a $66 million reserve, increased funding on public safety and stopped politicians from using tax dollars to take junkets to foreign countries. I want to put that experience to work for the County to help balance the budget, make neighborhoods safer, create good paying jobs and expand educational opportunities.
My husband and I built our lives and our business here, we raised our children here. I want to protect our community and help it flourish.
2. What quality or qualities do you have that you believe your opponent does not?
Our values set up apart. Manuel Perez has repeatedly supported higher taxes, including the recent $52 billion car and gas tax and he voted to eliminate job-creating enterprise zones because of pressure from his party. I don’t believe that raising taxes creates prosperity. I thought eliminating enterprise zones was a mistake. I also opposed his vote to spend $20 million on high priced consultants who were paid to figure out how to save tax dollars.
The recent and unfortunate “… illegal and misleading …” representation of my opponent on the ballot statement is a prime example of differences. He said that calling him out on it was “baseless” and “frivolous”. The Judge called it illegal. I will hold politicians accountable.
3. What is your single biggest achievement in political office?
It’s hard just to identify one – no matter how miniscule a decision may be perceived, it will always impact our communities. I helped secure land to triple the size of Cal State San Bernardino at Palm Desert. That sets the stage to bring a new Cal State to the Coachella Valley. Televising and archiving our City Council meetings, stopping councilmembers from taking foreign trips – working to achieve greater transparency.
4. Identify one, just one, time when you rallied opposing viewpoints in support of your plan, proposal, initiative, etc.
Televising our City Council meetings is a great example. The concept had been resisted for years and then was supported and now is part of the Palm Desert culture.
5. How much to you expect to spend on your race?
What it takes to win. To date, I have raised more than $500,000. I will raise enough to win.
6. Who is your political role model and why?
John Benoit did an excellent job of listening, researching and representing this community. I hope to follow in his tradition. Corky Larson is another. Her care, tenacity and vigorous representation of her community is a model to emulate. For quite some time she has encouraged me to run for this position and now she is cheering me on.
7. What are the three most notable endorsements you have received to date?
The late John Benoit voiced his support before he passed away. Additionally I’m proud to have the support of numerous city councilmembers, law enforcement leaders, businessmen and women, educators and others. The community members (whose names may not be that recognizable) that I have worked with, we’ve raised our children together and those I have represented throughout the years are quite “notable endorsements” because those endorsements are votes of confidence – they know my passion and work ethic.
8. Who recruited you, or did you decide to run on your own?
I was encouraged to run by John Benoit before he passed away. However, I decided to run on my own.
9. The Supervisor’s office is a nonpartisan office. Do you consider yourself a liberal, conservative or moderate and what does that mean to you?
I resist labels as this is a non- partisan office and I will be representing everyone.
10. What is the single biggest challenge facing Riverside County?
The county is in a bad way from a fiscal point of view. It has been a challenge paying for basic services. That means we need to grow the county’s economy so our residents are more prosperous and the tax revenues grow along with incomes and property values.