CATHEDRAL CITY — An associate pastor at Destiny Church says the “amazing leadership” skills he has gained helping lead a congregation of about 2,000 members will serve him well as a member of the City Council.

Enrique “Rick” Saldivar, who relocated to Cathedral City from Mexicali at age 3, is one of at least three people seeking a seat on the City Council in District 4 in the November election. He became a U.S. citizen about three years ago.

“I grew up in Cathedral City,” Saldivar said. “I know every street, every hangout.”

In addition to Saldivar, the other residents who have to date filed California Form 501, a Candidate Intention Statement, for District 4 are:

  • Ernesto M Gutierrez, owner of Tortillas Restaurant
  • John A. Rivera, who served on the Planning Commission for six years. Due to term limits, he had to leave the seat on June 20. He was serving as chairman of the Commission at the time. Rivera has served 10 years on the Architectural Review Committee and is a licensed architect.
  • Sergio Espericueta, automotive service manager at Walmart

District 4 includes Desert Princess Country Club, Outpost and the Dream Homes.

As an associate pastor at Destiny Church, Saldivar oversees 300 volunteers spread across three campuses — Destiny East Indio, Destiny West Cathedral City and Destiny South Bay Torrance.

He also leads the ant-recidivism program at Destiny, helping men and women reintegrate into society and succeed after being incarcerated.

Though the City Council is a nonpartisan office, some candidates are already pegged as liberal or conservative – and with an agenda. Saldivar said he is neither Republican nor Democrat and identifies as an Independent and a pastor of the people.

“I am a right-down-the-middle-balanced-kind-of-guy,” Saldivar said. “There are things I love and things I hate about the Republican Party and things I love and things I hate about the Democratic Party, therefore I’m neither. I go with what works for the people, for me and for my family.”

Each pastor at his church takes turn attending City Council meetings. During one of his turns, Saldivar said he took note that there were no Latinos on the five-member panel. About the same time, the city was forced into changing from an at-large election to district elections as a way to encourage more Latinos to run for office. The city either complied or faced a cost-prohibitive lawsuit.

As a pastor, he has his pulse on the people of the congregation and ultimately the community, meeting them where they are.

“I am in the trenches with these people in their everyday lives, talking with them about real issues that affect them, not superficial stuff,” Saldivar said. “I want to bring that to the City Council. I want to represent hard-working families and work with the city — not against it. I want to be a partner.”

Cathedral City is home to a significant LGBTQ population, which poses no problem for Saldivar he said.

“Being raised up for the last 11 years as a pastor at Destiny has taught me to really have a pulse on the community, people and social issues,” Saldivar said. “I love Cathedral City and I believe everyone needs representation. Everyone has a right to their own convictions. I don’t have to agree with them and they don’t have to agree with mine, but I believe we should respect each other’s convictions. My role will be that of a 40-year resident of Cathedral City who understands the needs of our community on a personal level.”

As we started to end our conversation, Saldivar said it is his prayer that the campaign remains ethical, honest and doesn’t get ugly.

Saldivar, 44, and his wife Christina have three children: Alan, 15; Adrian, 14; and Aaron, 4.

If you need a scorecard to keep up with what’s going on, here is an up-to-date accounting, as of July 2, where things stand in other districts.

Also filing a Form 501 is Raymond Gregory in District 5, who announced earlier this year. He retired last year from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after more than 27 years.

District 5 is comprised of the Panorama and La Pasada neighborhoods, as well as the southern and western portions of Rio Vista and the Park David Senior Housing complex, and is one of the districts open in the November 2018 election. Together, these neighborhoods make up approximately 20 percent of the city’s population.

Three of the residents have filed a Form 410, a Statement of Organization so they can begin to raise money. They are Gregory, Gutierrez and Mark Carnevale, who is seeking the District 3 seat.

Carnevale formally announced his bid on June 12 at his eatery, Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant. It now looks as if he will have a challenger. Juan Carlos Vizaga has filed a Statement of Intention. He is a Realtor with HomeSmart Professionals, a  real estate agency with multiple offices in the Coachella Valley.

District 3 includes the neighborhoods of Rio Vista, Verano, Rio Del Sol, Tapestry, Aldea, and Montage. It also includes the Desert Sands Mobile Home Park and Caliente Sands Mobile Home Park.

All the above-mentioned individuals have filed these forms but are not qualified candidates at this time.  The official Nomination Period will begin July 16, 2018 and end on Aug. 10, 2018.  During Nomination Period individuals will have the opportunity to pull papers and collect signatures on their Nomination Paper.  Once all of the signatures have been verified and the proper documents filed, then they would be considered a qualified candidate.

Deputy City Clerk Tracey Martinez said she expects the field of people to file forms in the coming weeks will grow even wider.

The three seats up for election this year are currently held by Mayor Stan Henry, Carnevale and Shelley Kaplan. The two remaining seats now held by Greg Pettis and John Aguilar will be up for grabs in 2020.

Henry chose not to seek a city councilmember position in District 3. Kaplan lives in District 1.  His term ends in 2018.  District 1 will not have an election until 2020, so he must wait two years before deciding whether to seek re-election.

In the newly drawn districts in Cathedral City, Henry and Carnevale both live in District 3. Both councilmembers’ terms end in 2018. If both councilmembers had decided to run for re-election, they would have had to run against each other.

Each of the five districts has about 11,000 residents.

Currently, Mayor Pro Tem Pettis lives in District 1. He serves as an “at large” member of the council until 2020. Likewise, Councilmember John Aguilar lives in District 2 and also holds an at-large” seat until 2020 as both councilmembers were elected to four-year terms in the November 2016 election.