CATHEDRAL CITY – Amid threats of a rain of lawsuits and allegations of impropriety, City Councilors on Wednesday abandoned their plan to fill the vacancy on the dais by appointing one of 14 applicants. They voted 3-1 to call for a special election.

Councilmember Ernesto Gutierrez cast the dissenting vote, saying there were plenty of good candidates from which to make an appointment.

The vote-by-mail election is set for Aug. 6. The cost for the election has not yet been determined, City Manager Charlie McClendon told Uken Report.

Special Election Called in Cathedral City

A packed City Council Chambers in Cathedral City on Feb. 27, 2019.

Only eligible votes in District 1 will be eligible to run in the special election. It is District in which the late Mayor Gregory S. Pettis lived. Though he was serving at-large at the time of his death in January, his seat becomes a District 1 seat in November 2020.

The person elected in the special election will finish Pettis term, which will be about 15 months by the time the special election is held in August.

In the pool of 14 applicants seeking the appointment, six were from District 1. They were:

  1. Jamie Lynn Birch – District 1
  2. Elmer Diaz – District 1
  3. Shelley Kaplan – District 1 (former City Councilmember)
  4. Rita Lamb – District 1
  5. Rebecca Sameroff Robinson – District 1
  6. Jonathan Patrick Wynne – District 1

Some, if not all, are likely to run in the special election. To learn more about them, you may read all of their applications and responses to questions by clicking here.

“If Council made a decision to only allow candidates from District 1, we had plenty of candidates to choose from to have made a decision tonight and not have to spend $75,000 — $100,000 for a (special) election that is only going to elect someone for about 16 months,” Gutierrez told Uken Report. “We should have collectively come to a decision and appoint someone from the list of all those who applied.  We had plenty of great candidates to choose from, and I wish we could have done so.”


Image Sources

  • Cathedral City City Council: Cindy Uken