CATHEDRAL CITY – A seasoned member of the City Council, a longtime public servant on city boards, and a political newcomer were swept into office Nov. 6, making history in the process.
Mark Carnevale, 68, first elected to the City Council in November 2014, was generously rewarded with a second, four-term. He owns Nicolino’s Famous Italian Restaurant. He grabbed just shy of 68 percent of the vote for a clear mandate.
Raymond Gregory, 53, who retired last year from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after more than 27 years, easily scored victory Tuesday in his first bid for public office. He garnered 62 percent of the vote
John A. Rivera, 58, is a licensed architect in the state of California. Rivera has served on the Planning Commission for six years and was the Chair for the past two years. He also served on the Architectural Review Committee since 2007 where he continues to serve as Committee Chair. He also served on the city’s Historic Preservation Task Force during which time he wrote the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance to be adopted as part of the current zoning ordinance. Some 35 of the voters chose him in a four-way race.
Mayor Pro Tem Greg Pettis and Councilmembers Shelly Kaplan and John Aguilar endorsed Rivera for the seat.
Carnevale, Gregory, and Rivera made history by being the first three City Councilmembers elected in the newly formed districts.
During his first term on the City Council, Carnevale has earned a reputation as a listener and he shined in that role during the campaign. He has walked his district becoming intimately familiar with its residents and their concerns. On a Saturday morning in late September, Carnevale served up hot dogs and his time — listening to residents who live in the Century Park neighborhood. He was told the park tax assessment all homeowners pay annually is a burden.
Carnevale will represent District 3, which 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.
Juan Carlos Vizaga appeared on paper as a challenger to Carnevale, but after an initial flurry of activity, he seemed to fall off the radar, failing to attend candidate forums.
Laura Ahmed challenged Gregory in District 5 to become the only woman on the City Council. What she lacked in votes Tuesday, she made up for in class.
“Whatever happens, Cathedral City will be in good hands,” Ahmed told Uken Report. “Raymond Gregory is a fine man. I regret that both of us cannot serve.”
From the outset, Gregory made it clear he did not have an ax to grind with the city or any individual.
“I’m trying to run a positive campaign, and not come and criticize some of the past actions, but try to take us from where we are now and help move us forward in a positive direction,” he told Uken Report.
Gregory will represent District 5, which 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.
Rivera spent countless hours walking door-to-door to discuss residents’ concerns and listen to them.
Rivera will represent District 4 includes Desert Princess Country Club, Outpost and the Dream Homes.
Rivera and his wife watched election night returns at home Tuesday evening.
Carnevale, Rivera and Gregory join Pettis and Aguilar on the City Council. Look for history to be made with this group.