COACHELLA —  Neftali Galarza, 26, is one of four people seeking two of the open seats on the Coachella City Council in the Nov. 3 election. Each of the open seats is a four-year term.

Galarza currently serves as the Director of Community Outreach at the California Alliance for Renewable Energy Solutions. 

Uken Report posed a series of identical questions to all the candidates for City Council. Following are Galarza’s responses.

Uken Report (UR): What is your motivation for running?

Neftali Galarza: For the past 10 years we have been involved in local, state and national politics. From helping manage local city council, community college and state races to managing voter registration efforts for non-profit organizations. In 2016 I graduated with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Labor Studies from the University of California, Riverside. That same year I managed voter registration, education, and get out the vote (gotv) campaigns across southern California with Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. A year later, I was appointed to serve on the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees and in 2018 I ran unopposed. I feel prepared and ready to run for Coachella City Council where we could be able to create positive change for our residents and eastern unincorporated communities that come to our city for healthcare, groceries, and recreational activities. We are running because we care about the future of our city and like our neighbors, we want to create endless opportunities for our residents here in our home. We hope to assist in creating a healthy and safe City by focusing on youth engagement opportunities, increasing neighborhood participation, and collaborating with local, state and federal government agencies and businesses to create resources.

UR: What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?

Neftali Galarza: I’d rather not state my attributes as a challenge to our opponents because I do not feel I am running against anyone, I have prepared my candidacy to be a campaign that runs for our city and its residents instead of against any one issue or person.

UR: What one project or issue do you want to see addressed in your term?

Neftali Galarza: There are numerous issues and projects we’d like to address. Creating neighborhood councils is something we want to be able to lead so that we can create bridges between residents, council members, city staff and businesses alike. At the same time, we’d create a more conscious and aware community with a voice of representation in their same neighborhood. We acknowledge that as a council member, we want to make sure we are accessible as we can possibly be and with neighborhood councils the bridge of communication would be easier to facilitate, and our residents would have different avenues to address their concerns or propose projects, resolutions and/or budget requests.

UR: If someone walked up to you and told you that Coachella was the worst place to live in California, what would your response be?

Neftali Galarza: We’d feel sorry for someone that does not appreciate a culturally rich city. We’d definitely invite them to enjoy a cruise by our city murals, try some of the best Mexican food in the Coachella Valley and once COVID-19 pandemic is over, we would invite them to a backyard carne asada in hopes they find happiness along the way. Our city is beautiful because of the people that live here, work here and shop here.

UR: If you could require every Coachella resident to do one thing, what would that one thing be?

Neftali Galarza: Shop local. Support our local and small business at a time they need us most.

UR: The entire Coachella Valley has taken a huge financial hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. What needs to be done to help Coachella recover?

Neftali Galarza: The coronavirus pandemic and its financial repercussions are unprecedented times and issues. I applaud the current city council and staff for taking bold stances in order to protect renters, homeowners and businesses. As a council member I’d propose we continue the current protections for renters and homeowners as it is an ever changing pandemic. We also need to invest in our local businesses in order to help businesses recover those that need it and others to continue to strive amid the current issues.

UR: Tell us one good quality your opponent possesses.

Neftali Galarza: I appreciate and admire every person that decided to run for office. As a candidate and former school board member, I know the hard work and selfless character one possesses to dedicate their time as a public servant. To be fully transparent, I support the Emmanuel Martinez re-election campaign because I believe in his leadership and know he has been a vital leader in the development of Coachella as Mayor Pro Tem.

UR: You are all well known, tell us one thing about yourself no one knows.

Neftali Galarza: I’m an open book that I can’t think of something I’ve kept secret. I’ll take the opportunity to share a fun fact – growing up our family structure was very matriarchal, and my mother was the only woman in our house as I grew up with two brothers and I’m the middle child. Today, I am the only male in our household, I am lucky to have an amazing partner, Lucero and two beautiful daughters, Delanie and Aria. Thanks to my mother and the life lessons my father provided, I am able to be the best dad I can possibly be to two princesses. My life took a serious change from my childhood to adulthood.

UR: What is the single biggest issue facing Coachella and what would you do to address it?

Neftali Galarza: Unemployment. We need to invest in our youth, young professionals, communities and businesses. We have many ideas to tackle this issue to continue the work that has been worked on. For example, by creating partnerships with labor unions we can assure our residents enroll in apprenticeship programs and collaborate with our school district to ensure we can assist in any capacity for 100% of our students to be college-ready by the time they graduate high school. In addition, City of Coachella is a city of opportunities, we have a lot of underdeveloped lands that we can create infrastructure that would create temporary construction jobs and long-time tax revenues with commercial and property taxes. Overall, I understand I am able to lead and follow as part of time, I look forward to collaboratively tackling this issue and any issue that we face in our city.

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