Raymond Gregory: ‘We have a bright future’
CATHEDRAL CITY — Raymond Gregory, who was elected to the City Council in November 2018 as the first representative from the recently-formed District 5, has been sworn in as mayor, a position that rotates annually among the five Councilors. District 5 covers the Panorama and La Pasada neighborhoods, the southern and western portions of the Rio Vista neighborhood, and the Park David Senior Housing complex.
Ernesto Gutierrez, who was elected by the voters to the serve on the City Council in November 2018, will serve as mayor pro tem.
In the two years since being elected to the City Council, Gregory has proven himself to be a listener of residents’ concern as well as an independent thinker. He doesn’t subscribe to group-think politics.
Gregory previously served more than 27 years with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, before retiring in 2017. During his tenure with the Sheriff’s Department, Raymond held many ranks and worked a variety of locations and functions, including patrol, jails, as a courtroom deputy, an internal affairs investigator, eventually rising to the rank of Assistant Sheriff. Locally, he served as commander of the Sheriff’s Indio Station as it transitioned to its current location in Thermal. As part of that assignment, he served as Chief-of-Police for the cities of Coachella and La Quinta. Previously, he also served as commander of the jail in Indio, and before that as the Asst. Chief for the La Quinta Police Department.
In a Q&A with Uken Report, Gregory discussed his priorities and more.
Uken Report (UR): You’ve been on the City Council two years and now are mayor. What does this role mean to you? Is there added pressure being mayor?
Raymond Gregory: It has been an honor to serve Cathedral City in the role of council member, and quite eye-opening and educational. The implementation of the district system two years ago stipulates that neighborhoods throughout the city are represented, and that has led to a subtle, but significant, rebalancing of priorities. I am very proud of the current city council and the sensible way they approach issues and programs; being open to input and fresh ideas, but unwavering on their commitment to the safety and well-being of our residents and businesses, both in the short and long terms. I’m excited to work with the council and dedicated city staff as we continue to manage both our current challenges and those we face ahead.
UR: What are your priorities?
Raymond Gregory: The current pandemic will remain our greatest priority until it abates, requiring our uppermost attention to do what we can to bolster health and safety within the city while attempting to minimize economic impacts where possible. The costs to Cathedral City families in the loss of loved ones, lingering health issues, the loss of jobs and businesses, and reduced educational and recreational opportunities are enormous. Managing our local response and responsibilities will remain our highest priority for the near term.
UR: Do you plan to introduce any initiatives such as planting 1,000 trees or anything like that? If so, can you elaborate?
Raymond Gregory: At the swear-in ceremony, I outlined some focus areas which the city council and staff will continue to develop as we strive to maintain and strengthen a Healthy Cathedral City. These include:
- Healthy Leadership – Maintaining transparency and open communications, developing sound policy, promoting staff accountability to match expectations with action, and maintain our focus on quality of life;
- Healthy Economy – Remain business friendly and support our small businesses, promote education and employment opportunities, maintain focus on our business corridors in our downtown and along Date Palm, Ramon and Perez Roads, utilize smart development principles ensuring city revenues and fees are balanced so they are fair, yet critical infrastructure and amenities are added and maintained as appropriate;
- Healthy Neighborhoods – Maintain high quality police, fire and ambulance services at appropriate strength levels, rebuild code enforcement with a focus on programs and problem-solving, maintain quality roads, sidewalks, lighting, landscaping, and public art, promote activities that encourage neighbors helping neighbors, like neighborhood watch, citizen patrols, and neighborhood events;
- Healthy Living – Add and maintain playgrounds, trails, sports fields, and parks (including dog parks), re-invigorate plans to offer a public swimming option in the summer and explore joining the Desert Recreation District, support and promote our senior center, boys & girls club, theaters, museums, festivals, and performance spaces, and continue implementing green initiatives where appropriate.
UR: What is the first thing residents will see or experience from Mayor Gregory?
Raymond Gregory: If I am doing my job, my hope is there will be little focus on me, but the first thing residents will notice is that Cathedral City is thriving, its neighborhoods feel clean, safe and friendly, business and employment are recovering and expanding, and more and more people see Cathedral City as a great place to live, visit, work, play, eat, and shop.
UR: What is your leadership style?
Raymond Gregory: City leadership is a team effort and that’s the way it should be. Those who know my background, including being a business-school graduate and working more than 27 years in local law enforcement as an out gay man at a time when that was frowned upon by many, sometimes seem surprised at my (usually) quiet demeanor. But I have learned the value of listening and collaboration. I have no other motivation in serving than trying to make our city government the best it can be and keeping Cathedral City the kind of place where everyone is welcome, has the opportunity to serve and be as involved as they desire, and continue to thrive in whatever endeavors and activities they hold dear.
UR: Anything you would like to add?
Raymond Gregory: We are coming through a difficult time right now and I can’t thank enough the previous mayors, the city council, and city staff for all they have done, and continue to do, to keep Cathedral City strong and resilient. But even with these difficulties, we have a bright future. Housing and business interest and development remain strong. We have a new casino, first-class movie and live-action theatres, a host of cultural events and locales, some of the best dining and shopping destinations, and there are more great things to come, both within Cathedral City and nearby. As Cathedral City enters its 40th year, there is a lot to be proud about, and a lot for which to be hopeful. I feel fortunate to be tasked with being mayor this year and know it will be great one!
- Raymond Gregory being sworn into office. Gregory-: Raymond Gregory
- Mayor Raymond Gregory: Raymond Gregory