CATHEDRAL CITY – The vacancy on the five-member City Council, created by the death of Mayor Gregory S. Pettis, will be filled through an appointment from the city at large.

Anyone wishing to be considered for the appointment must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and a registered voter in Cathedral City.  He or she must also complete a six-question application. Questions will include why you want to be on the City Council, how long you have lived in the city, the applicant’s top two priorities, how you would handle disagreements with colleagues on the City Council, and more. Potential applicants must complete the application with their legal name and address.

Applications can be found on the city’s website beginning today, Feb. 14 and must be completed no later than Feb. 19. All applications must be filed with the City Clerk.

No interviews will be conducted.

The City Council will consider the applications in open session on Feb. 27. If Councilors agree on one applicant, and if he or she is in the audience that night, he or she could be sworn in immediately.

The decision capped off a sometimes-raucous discussion that spanned nearly 2 ½ hours in a standing-room only crowd.

“It is a difficult issue and it comes up under sad circumstances,” City Attorney Eric S. Vail said to start the discussion.

Vail also said the appointment is “not necessarily an easy choice.”

Without mincing words, Vail recommended appointing someone to save the city an estimated $77,000 to $99,000 for a special election. He also advised the City Council to consider the vacancy an at-large appointment.

There was an immediate outburst and chorus of “Boo, Boo, Boo.”

Mayor Mark Carnevale was having none of it. He asked Vail to read some rules of decorum, which included civility, courtesy, respect, no booing, no hissing, and no clapping.

At the time of Pettis’ death, he was serving at large. His seat is scheduled to be elected by district in November 2020. He lived in District 1.

Vacancy in CC to be Filled by At-Large Appointment

Former City Councilmember Shelley Kaplan

During public comments, 45 people spoke out. The vast majority argued for the City Council to appoint former City Councilmember Shelley Kaplan. He lives in District 1, is openly gay, and supported Sanctuary City status, just like Pettis.

Many said if the City Council really wants to honor the legacy of Mayor Gregory S. Pettis, it would fill the vacancy with a like-minded person who shares his vision for the city, his progressive attitudes, and his values.

Vacancy in CC to be Filled by At-Large Appointment

Former Mayor Stan Henry

Some voiced support for former Mayor Stan Henry who has served the city as both mayor and police chief for three decades. As Henry was leaving office in December, Pettis publicly heralded him as one of the best mayors the city ever had.

Henry and Kaplan are the two people most often associated with filling the seat and both have told Uken Report they ould gladly serve if asked.

Both attended the City Council meeting; neither spoke. Each listened attentively.

There are also others in the city who would like to be considered. Laura Ahmed, who came in second to Raymond Gregory in District 3 in the November 2018 election, said she would like to be considered.

Barbie Smart also told the City Council she would like to be considered for the vacancy.

As the night wore on, one man, Allen Worthy, stood at the podium and began deriding and belittling Henry. Authorities promptly escorted him from the building.

Mayor Pro Tem John Aguilar, like Henry earlier, said he was troubled and disappointed at the ugly rhetoric that has surfaced on social media and in public conversation surrounding the vacancy and how best to fill it.

Aguilar, a close friend of Pettis, said it is the last thing Pettis would want is all the divisive conversation.

Just two days after being sworn in as mayor, Pettis mandated decorum in the City Council Chambers.

“There are rules of decorum that we expect to be adhered to,” Pettis said prior to public comments on Wednesday. “If I feel that you’ve crossed over that line, I will give you one reminder. After that, I’m going to ask that the police chief escort you out. We’re not going to have what we’ve had the last two years of divisive council meetings over individual personalities.”

Pettis went even further.

“Also, please refrain from actually using any names,” Pettis said as he rolled out his expectation of decorum in the Council Chambers “If you’re going to talk, use titles or something else.”

The one thing Pettis asked seems to have already fallen by the wayside, Aguilar said.

Those who are interested in serving out the at-large term that expires in December 2020, must fill-out a questionnaire approved by the City Council by clicking here or by picking up an application at City Hall during normal business hours and submit their answers to the city clerk by the close of business (6 p.m.) on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.  Potential candidates must be 18 years of age or older, a U.S. citizen, resident and registered voter in Cathedral City.

The City Council will review and discuss the answers from potential candidates, and then attempt to appoint a councilmember during the Feb. 27, 2019 City Council meeting.  It will take a minimum of three of the four sitting councilmembers to vote in favor of a potential candidate to succeed in that person being appointed.  Only those candidate(s) who submit written answers to the questionnaire will be considered for the position.  If a candidate is chosen and the individual is present at the Feb. 27, 2019 council meeting, the individual may be sworn-in immediately.

For more information, contact Tracey Martinez, City Clerk, at [email protected] or (760) 770-0322.





Image Sources

  • Shelley Kaplan: Cindy Uken
  • Stan Henry: Cathedral City Council
  • Cathedral City Council: Cathedral City Council