PALM DESERT — Karina Quintanilla, one of the women who filed a lawsuit against Palm Desert and prompted the city to switch from at-large voting to voting districts, has launched a campaign for City Council in District 1 hoping to make history as the first Latina elected to the City Council.

Quintanilla, 41, is challenging incumbent Susan Marie Weber in what is called the Civic Center Core District in the Nov. 3 election. District 1 is the smaller of the city’s two voting districts. It contains about 20% of the population.

Lorraine Salas and Quintanilla sued the city in June 2019 arguing Palm Desert was not in compliance with California’s Voting Rights Act with its at-large system. Other cities in the Coachella Valley, including Palm Springs, Indio and Cathedral City, have also moved to district-based voting. Each of these communities has five districts.

Quintanilla and Salas agreed to two voting districts in a settlement with the city to expedite the process ahead of the November election.

A self-described educator and parent, Quintanilla grew up in the Coachella Valley and has lived in Palm Desert resident since 2002. She is the mother of two teenage daughters.

“In my heart of hearts I always knew I would run for office one day, but imagined that it would be decades away,” Quintanilla told Uken Report. “When we settled the lawsuit, I decided it would be time to run.  There is no better time than the present. I have been humbled by the outpouring of community support and it is clear that many residents feel their voices are not being heard in City Hall.  If I am elected, I would be the first Latina on the Palm Desert City Council.  Mr. (Carlos) Pineda started the journey and I honor his work by moving forward to bring diverse representation to Palm Desert.”

As the daughter of seasonal workers who moved frequently, Quintanilla said she understands the  academic impact of housing instability, as regular attendance directly impacts student success.

“As a first-generation college student, I understand the challenges of navigating the academic system with limited resources,” Quintanilla said. ” This taught me to be resourceful and collaborate to find solutions.  As a mother, I worry about the health of our valley, and the health of the economy as we navigate the pandemic together.”

If elected and as the first Latina on the Palm Desert City Council, Quintanilla said she will bring representation that is more reflective of the city’s demographics.

My service to Palm Desert will focus on creating five districts, increasing support for our local universities to bring economic diversity, and highlight public health needs from housing to cooling centers., she said.

“As we move forward, navigating these uncertain seas in our many different boats, we must ensure that local leaders prioritize residents´ health, Quintanilla said. “A healthy community means a healthy workforce and healthy economy.  Visitors to the Coachella Valley will see signs advocating for masks when entering Palm Springs, La Quinta, and the unincorporated community of Thousand Palms.  Palm Desert can be accessed via Interstate 10, Highway 74 and Highway 111, converging traffic from not only surrounding counties but also other states.  There are no signs indicating that masks are required.  While we are greater and safer together, we must ensure visitors to Palm Desert know that we care about their safety as our own.  A city must actively take care of its vulnerable residents and not just cater to businesses.  We deserve compassionate leadership, that places people over profits.”


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