Potential Candidates Include Three Incumbents

PALM DESERT —The transition to single-member districts beginning in November has opened the door to potential candidates who might not have considered running before. It’s also opened the door to conspiracy theories.

For instance, one conspiracy theory alleges Jan Harnik is filing to run for City Council two years early in the newly drawn district 2 against Gregg Akkerman.  Her current term expires in 2026. District 2 now includes both incumbents Harnik and Kathleen Kelly. The theory is that only Harnik, a former Republican-turned-No-Party=Preference six years ago, can beat Akkerman, a Democrat. City Council races are nonpartisan.

“I am an independent thinker who listens to the people, does my research and abides by our State Constitution that mandates that,” Harnik said.

Akkerman ran unsuccessfully for the City Council in 2022.

“I am 100% behind Kathleen Kelly,” an impassioned Harnik told Uken Report. “She’s the best. I’ve never worked with anyone finer.”

Harnik said she has filed simply as a “placeholder.”

Harnik was elected to the Palm Desert City Council in 2010. Kelly was elected in 2016.

The potential candidates for District 2 are:

  • Gregg Akkerman
  • Jan Harnik
  • Kathleen Kelly
  • Faith Messenger
  • Joe Pradetto

The potential candidates for District 3 are:

  • Stephen Nelson
  • Anyse Smith

The potential candidates for District 1 are:

  • Ron De Luna
  • Karina Quintanilla

On Jan. 25, the Palm Desert City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1406 establishing five single-member council districts. The incumbent council members will continue to serve and complete their existing terms, according to the city Clerk’s office.

The transition to single-member districts will commence with the General Municipal Election of Nov. 5 for the election of three members of City Council representing Districts 1, 2, and 3. The transition will be complete following the November 2026 election for two members of City Council representing Districts 4 and 5.

You can learn more about the redistricting process by visiting www.redistrictpd.org, including an interactive map where you can locate your district.

Click Here for access the District Locator Interactive Map: https://ndcresearch.maps.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=ffed291898ea45dd87ed07b70fd18704

The following individuals have filed a Candidate Intention Statement, Form 501, indicating their intent to run for Palm Desert City Council in the November 2024 Election:

District 1:

De Lua, Ron
Quintanilla, Karina

District 2:

Akkerman, Gregg
Harnik, Jan
Kelly, Kathleen
Messenger, Faith
Pradetto, Joe

District 3:

Stephen Nelson
Anyse Smith

The official nomination period opens July 15 and closes on Aug. 9. If an incumbent fails to file by the deadline, the nomination period will be extended through Aug. 14. Please note that the extension period would only apply to District 1 as no other district has an incumbent member.

Below are the candidate qualifications for elected office:

  • Be registered to vote at your current residence in the City of Palm Desert.
  • Must reside in the district for which you are running.
  • Obtain not less than 20 nor more than 30 district voter signatures on the official nomination papers.
  • A citizen of the United States.
  • Not disqualified from holding office by the Constitution or laws of the State of California.

Please contact the City Clerk’s Office at (760) 346-0611 or email cityclerk@palmdesert.gov to schedule an appointment for the issuance of nomination papers and the candidate manual.

Image Sources

  • Palm Desert Redistricting: Shutterstock