As two diverse candidates vie for Coachella Mayor, tensions are running high [Opinion]

Coachella voters will be voting for mayor in November. The choice is incumbent Steve Hernandez or his opponent Denise Delgado.

Denise Delgado returned home after graduation from college to be a public-school teacher. While attending college and later graduating Steven Hernandez served an internship with Riverside County and has worked for Republican Marion Ashley and recently Democrat V. Manuel Perez both county supervisors.

Should voters elect Steven Hernandez to a fifth term he promised more of the same. If voters elect Denise Delgado, she wants to change the way the city does business.

Hernandez points to the progress and Delgado points to nepotism, patronage jobs for friends, and time for a new vision and new leadership for Coachella and its residents.

Hernandez points to unprecedented progress in the city. New businesses and new services for residents. He believes he’s delivered for residents during his four terms as Mayor.

Delgado says Hernandez’s desire to get a new police force will bankrupt the city. Delgado argues the city cannot afford to build a new police station, buy dozens of vehicles, radios, computers, and build a police dispatch center. She thinks the current services provided by Riverside County are fine and meet the needs of residents and businesses. She points to all the additional services the city receives like immunity from litigation and no need to pay pensions for public safety.

Delgado is a single mom raising her daughter. Hernandez is married with two daughters. Both have lived in Coachella and gone to local elementary, middle, and high schools. Both are college graduates. This is an accomplishment they should be proud of.

The race is attracting major donations from businesses and residents are lining up on opposite sides of the race.  Delgado had the early lead in fundraising, but Hernandez has proven to be a solid fund raiser. Too early to see how much money enters the race from outside the city and or the valley.

Delgado’s last election to the City Council was a campaign in which she walked the neighborhoods, had a very aggressive sign campaign, and saw strong support from voters.

Hernandez set a fundraising record for his office last election cycle. He easily defeated his opponent. Both candidates are expected to make radio buys, use billboards, walk precincts. It is shaping up to be the race to watch in east valley.

Will the race turn ugly?  It’s clear neither camp appreciates the other and both candidates believe they are best qualified to serve the citizens of Coachella.

“GOTV,” or get out the vote, will be key in this race. The candidate who gets his or her base out and picks up new voters will win.

Handicappers and polling give the challenger a slight edge in becoming the first woman elected as Mayor. The polling is a statistical tie after looking at the margins of error. So, it’s a toss-up.

With just two months to go before the election both candidates will be busy getting their messages out. Let’s see if the sides agree to a debate. Both candidates should be capable debaters.

Both are members of the Democratic Party. Each has carved out a notch in their party. Hernandez leans hard left and has endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. It’s not known if Delgado supported Joe Biden or another candidate for president.

It’s abundantly clear Rep. Raul Ruiz could play a role in the race for Mayor. He has endorsed and donated to Delgado.

Assemblymember Eddie Garcia, a former mayor of Coachella, hasn’t announced who he’ll support. However, he has said he’ll work with the person the citizens of Coachella chose in November. He’s likely to roll with the incumbent as is Supervisor Manny Perez.

Expectations that Hernandez will line up key endorsements are likely. Labor leaders may be split on who’s the better choice. Tribal leaders, political action committees, major donors haven’t completely made up their minds on who to support.

Coachella has a bright future. Whichever candidate wins the city has tough choices ahead. With an inflationary surge its funds buy less, and less and major pension debt hangs over its head. Public safety costs are escalating too. Business retention and attraction will also be key to ensure sales tax revenues stay strong.

This is a race between two people with diverse opinions on how best to make Coachella safe, financially stronger, and a place to educate current and future families. Stay tuned as the race is heating up and the skirmishes are about to begin!



Image Sources

  • Boxing gloves: Shutterstock