Riverside County Supervisor posts are presumably nonpartisan, meaning candidates’ party affiliations don’t appear on the ballot and candidates don’t typically run under the umbrella of a political party.
But you wouldn’t necessarily know that if you looked at the endorsements Fourth District Supervisor candidates V. Manuel “Manny” Perez and Jan Harnik are receiving. The endorsements, at least among elected political leaders, fall almost entirely along party lines.
Democrats favor Perez, the incumbent; Republicans lean toward Harnik, Perez’s sole challenger
Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Perez to the District 4 seat, which covers the Coachella Valley, until the November 2018 election. He was appointed in May 2017 to fill the seat left vacant in the wake of Supervisor John Benoit’s death in December 2016.
Over a half-dozen local leaders who applied for the appointment to the Fourth Supervisorial District vacancy in 2017 have now endorsed Perez, including Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis, Cathedral City Councilmember John Aguilar, Desert Hot Springs Councilmember Joe McKee, Coachella Valley Unified School District Trustee Silvia Paz, and Desert Healthcare District Board member Jennifer Wortham.
“I was honored to be one of the candidates who the late Supervisor John Benoit named as a potential successor” Aguilar said. “Supervisor Benoit was a dedicated, accessible, and principled leader – all of which are characteristics that I see in Manuel Perez. Manuel cares deeply about our Coachella Valley, and he will continue many of the projects and programs that help define Supervisor Benoit’s legacy – along with creating new ones. Manuel’s record of accomplishments over the past year has been significant, and I trust him to continue to effectively represent our district on the Board of Supervisors.”
Cathedral City Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis said, “As our Supervisor, Manuel Perez is proving himself to be a thoughtful, accessible, and effective advocate for our district’s residents. He’s working hard every day to find solutions and get things done. I’m proud to announce my support of Supervisor Manuel Perez.”
Harnik, a member of the Palm Desert City Council, has the support of Benoit’s family members, three of whom are who serving as honorary campaign chairs.
Her base of support among elected leaders comes primarily from longtime Republican leaders, including state Sen. Jeff Stone; state Assemblyman Chad Mayes; Councilman Steve Sanchez, La Quinta; Councilman John Pena, La Quinta; former Councilwoman Terry Henderson, La Quinta; Mayor Sabby Jonathan, Palm Desert; former Councilman Bob Spiegel, Palm Desert; former Councilman and president of the Lincoln Club Dick Oliphant, Indian Wells; Mayor Mike Wilson, Indio; Councilman Glenn Miller, Indio; and Councilwoman Elaine Holmes.
Harnik is also surrounded with a broad base of support from educators, public safety staff, business owners, members of the military and health care professionals.
Arguably, one of her most powerful endorsements comes from Benoit himself.
The late Supervisor John Benoit knew that Jan Harnik was the right person to succeed him to deal with the major issues the county is facing.
In his final days, Benoit wrote to Gov. Brown:
“ … When the time comes, I respectfully request you consider my recommendation of a highly qualified Coachella Valley leader to serve the remainder of my term on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Jan Harnik, the mayor of Palm Desert, possesses the qualifications, skills and character necessary to represent the Fourth District and continue Riverside County’s tradition of excellence and service to our communities.”
The Fourth District is geographically the largest by far, covering the eastern two-thirds of the county. Within the Fourth District are the cities of Blythe, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage.
Unincorporated communities in the district include Bermuda Dunes, Chiriaco Summit, Colorado River communities, Desert Center, Desert Edge, Eagle Mountain, Indio Hills, Lake Tamarisk, Mecca, Mesa Verde, North Shore, Oasis, Ripley, Sky Valley, Sun City. Palm Desert, Thermal, Thousand Palms and Vista Santa Rosa