CATHEDRAL CITY – A Realtor with HomeSmart Professionals is seeking a seat on the City Council in District 3 where he will challenge Mark Carnevale and possibly others as the official Nomination Period does not begin until next week.

Juan Carlos Vizaga, 47, has filed a Candidate Intention Form with the City Clerk’s office. He is a native of Peru who has lived in the United States for 27 years and has earned his U.S. Citizenship, he said. This is now “home,” he said. Vizaga, a former executive chef, has lived in Cathedral City for eight years.

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.

This is the first time district elections have been held in Cathedral City. They are designed to encourage Latinos to run, but the Realtor said that is not what compelled him to run.

“I live in District 3,” Vizaga told Uken Report. “Therefore, I run to represent the power of the voice of all the people living in my District, regardless of social status, races, genders, religion, political affiliations, and any other beliefs. I wish to be inclusive to all people.”

As a Realtor, Vizaga identifies as neither a liberal nor a conservative.

“I believe that we all have to come together for the benefit of the city,” Vizaga said.

The Realtor said he is an “activist” and “volunteer.” In the past, some of the organizations he has helped include AIDS Project Los Angeles, LGBT Center in Hollywood, Project Angel Food in Hollywood, and Cathedral of Angels in Palm Springs.

“It fulfills me in giving back to the community,” Vizaga said. “This country has given me a voice, and the opportunity to express my creativity. I wish to represent the people and the city always in the best of their interests. Cathedral City has one of the best central locations in the Valley, and is rich in cultures and diversity. The city is in progress and expansion, and I wish to contribute to its highest success.”

Carnevale, owner of Nicolino’s Italian Restaurant in Cathedral City, was elected to the City Council in 2014.

As of Monday, residents in District 4 who say they intend to run are:

  • Enrique “Rick” Saldivar, associate pastor at Destiny Church
  • 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.

In District 5 is Raymond Gregory who announced earlier this year. He retired last year from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after more than 27 years.

No other residents have filed a Candidate Intention Statement in District 5, the deputy city clerk said Monday.

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.

None of the above residents are qualified candidates at this time.  The official Nomination Period begins July 16, 2018 and ends on Aug. 10, 2018.  During the 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.

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.