LA QUINTA — John J. Peña is a familiar face in La Quinta City politics. First elected to the La Quinta City Council in 1984, he served until his retirement from public office in December 2002. He came out of retirement and was again elected to the City Council in 2014.
He has again been bitten by the pull of local politics as he seeks another term. Peña describes himself as a “young 63.” In addition to his City Council responsibilities Peña works as a business consultant. Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, he has lived in La Quinta since 1982.
Peña, one of two incumbents, is among five people vying for one of the two, four-year terms. The others are:
All of their profiles are available by clicking on the links above.
Mayor Linda Evans is unopposed in her bid for re-election.
All candidates in this particular race were given identical questions with no word limit to talk about their issues, their platform, their politics and more.
Given the politically polarizing times in the country, each candidates was asked if he was liberal or conservative and what each of those terms means. Though the City Council is a nonpartisan office, political views can sometimes shape even a local decision.
“I try not to tag myself but rather adapt to issues that can have an impact affecting our community,” Peña told Uken Report. “We at the local level are supposed to be non-partisan. I think that one of the most important qualities of a local political leader is not attempting to view our world as divisive political points of view. Although I see my views as moderate, leadership requires vision and not making the easy decision, but the wise decision. What I try to avoid is allowing controversy at the national and state level to seep into our local government framework.”
Proud of the way the city is moving, Peña said he seeking re-election to continue the momentum toward smart growth and policies the City Council has mplemented over the past four years.
“Those policies have had a positive impact in La Quinta resulting in higher property values while expanding our business, hospitality and public services,” Peña said. “Our city has one of the lowest crime rates in the Coachella Valley and I will continue to support our public safety personnel in pursuit of that goal.”
Following is a Q&A with Peña.
Uken Report (UR): What is the single biggest issue facing La Quinta?:
Peña: Changing economic conditions and traditional big-box developments that are in flux as internet shopping habits change. Furthermore, our rising public safety costs need to be addressed as continuing cost increases are not sustainable. Some might argue that SilverRock is a major issue, however SilverRock continues to progress, albeit rather slowly. I is a complex situation with the loss of redevelopment that was not anticipated although La Quinta had made significant changes to protect its investment in the years leading up to redevelopment dissolution.
UR: Where (in what area) do you think you can make the biggest difference?:
Peña: I have the experience, vision and a common-sense approach to problem-solving that has propelled La Quinta into one of the best managed and community-oriented cities in the Coachella Valley. I have the historical perspective to maintain our quaint village while adapting to changing demographics and urban challenges.
UR: What separates you from your challengers?:
Peña: Experience and leadership
UR: What qualities do you have that prepares you to serve on the City Council?:
Peña: Experience and leadership and my ability to work with various factions not only in the community but also working with other cities in our region. I have had the opportunity to serve in various leadership positions in the Coachella Valley as well as on a regional basis. Even when I was out of office, I served on committees and remained active and was president of the Chamber of Commerce representing the business community in La Quinta. Probably most importantly is my ability to listen and take ideas and suggestions from our residents to formulate city policies.