A trend has emerged among Coachella Valley residents hoping for a seat on one of the desert’s nine city councils: They are announcing their intentions earlier than ever before.
They know that local politics, issues, and conflicts touch the everyday lives of residents. Would-be candidates like the idea of helping out their friends, families, and neighbors and want to do what they can to help, so they run for office hoping to make a difference. Some are finding the long campaigns benficial.
On Jan. 1, 2018, Waymond Fermon of Indio announced his plans to take on longtime incumbent City Councilmember Michael H. Wilson. Fermon, a correctional officer at Calipatria State Prison, announced his intention nearly a year before the Nov. 6 election.
Throughout the year he spent time knocking on doors, meeting with residents, and getting his name circulating in the public.
The political newcomer emerged victorious in the largest city in the Coachella Valley that voted for the first time in districts.
In Cathedral City, Raymond Gregory was also part of the emerging trend. He announced in January 2018 his intention to seek a seat on the City Council in the Nov. 6 election.
Gregory, who retired in 2017 from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after more than 27 years, said it was important to educate people about the new district system being used to elect councilors in Cathedral City and to introduce himself in the community.
On Nov. 6 Gregory scored a victory over his lone opponent in the Coachella Valley’s second largest city. It was also the first time Cathedral City residents voted by district.
Now, as Palm Springs prepares to move to district elections in November 2019, City Councilmember J.R. Roberts has already announced he will not be seeking re-election. Roberts, Mayor Rob Moon and Mayor Pro Tem Geoff Kors all currently live in the same district, which is district 3.
With Roberts bowing out so early, it sets up a face-off between Moon and Kors if both decide to run. It also paves the way for a new face on Palm Springs’ political scene. Will there be a January announcement similar to Fermon and Gregory? Time will tell.
In keeping with the trend of announcing intentions early, Kate Spates, a Rancho Mirage businesswoman, told Uken Report she will not run for City Council in her community in 202o when the terms of Richard W. Kite and Ted Weill expire.
Spates, wildly popular among Coachella Valley politicians, ran for a seat on the Rancho Mirage City Council in April 2018 but was not successful. She has vowed to help anyone ready to take on the entrenched politicians.
“I will not run again. While I felt a great deal of support, I wasn’t prepared for the lies, dirty tactics, and bullying from virtual strangers,” Spates told Uken Report. “It really soured me from politics. I ran because I wanted to represent the under-represented demographics for Rancho Mirage. I had no ulterior motives. I was not funded by anyone or any organization with sinister motives. I love the Coachella Valley and only want the best for it. I have led many organizations and thought I could use my skills and knowledge to serve the community and Rancho Mirage. I absolutely would encourage others to run and if asked, I would help them. I learned so much campaigning and could pass on my knowledge to someone who is ready to take on the establishment.”
There was a time, say, back in 2000 when residents eyeing a seat on local governing boards waited until September to formally announce their intentions.
That was the trend then.
We are only into the second day of 2019. Who knows what this January will reveal.