‘Coachella’s best days are ahead of it.’ — Mayor Steven Hernandez

COACHELLA — On paper, it appeared the odds were stacked against Steven Hernandez being reelected to a fifth term as mayor of this hardscrabble community.

A popular Democratic Congressman, Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D: a billionaire, Nachhattar Singh Chandi, president & CEO at Chandi Group USA; Riverside Sheriff’s Association (RSA); and Mujeres Advancing Leadership, Advocacy and Success (MALAS) — an organization of female elected leaders and residents, all actively donated money and/or vigorously worked to unseat the 39-year-old mayor.

In the end, he prevailed over his sole challenger, Denise Delgado for another two-year term. Hernandez netted 2,278 votes, or about 51% of the vote while Delgado came in second with 2,217 votes for about 49% of the total votes tallied.

Voters Return Steven Hernandez to Office of Mayor

One of Hernandez’s block parties in which he meets with constituents.

Hernandez credits his hard-fought victory to his campaign staff and running a grass-roots campaign in the four weeks leading up to Election Day.

“We met with residents one-on-one, defended our record, discussed our expanded vision and got feedback,” Hernandez told Uken Report. “Our residents care, they are humble, and hard-working. It takes an audacious leader to speak up for them. I feel fortunate and capable. I’ve gotten to grow up and define myself in the public eye.”

His unabashed audacity has led in part to a disconnect with Rep. Ruiz. Hernandez has often publicly criticized the Congressman for not bringing more money, commonly known as “pork,” to Coachella where he grew up.

“I’m very critical of him,” Hernandez said of Ruiz. “He’s done a poor job of bringing resources to his district.”

Hernandez said one example included the city of Coachella seeking financial aid for the new fire station. Ruiz and staff assured the city there would be money. Two months later, Hernandez finds out that Coachella won’t qualify because its population is more than 40,000 people.

“He should have known that.” Hernandez said. “His staff should have known that.”

Hernandez said Ruiz should follow the lead of Rep. Juan Vargas, who serves California’s 51st Congressional District. His District consists of South San Diego County, all of Imperial County and California’s entire US/Mexico border. Hernandez said Vargas has delivered significantly for San Diego.

Hernandez has been mayor for eight years and was on council for eight years before that. Coachella has made significant advances in that time. The city recently celebrated completion of an urban forest along Grapefruit and Hernandez, ground was broken in October for $7.3 million in renovations for Fire Station No. 79, Coachella is the first city in the Coachella Valley to recognize the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day, and there is more. Hernandez’s fingerprints are all over these initiatives and many more.

“As a community we have accomplished many things and there is little doubt we will do more,” Hernandez said on social media. “Some of the areas we will focus on is affordable housing, communication, small business development, infrastructure and public safety, amongst other things.

“Coachella’s best days are ahead of it. The election is now over, and it is time to get to work. The best is yet to come for Coachella!”

Four-year terms on the City Council that Mayor Pro Tem Josephine Gonzalez and Megan Beaman Jacinto, hold were also up for reelection. Only Gonzalez ran again, along with three newcomers: Planning commissioners Frank Figueroa and Stephanie Virgen, and activist Yurema Arvizu. Figuero and Virgen emerged victorious.

Image Sources

  • Block party: Hernandez's Facebook page
  • Steve Hernandez: Hernandez Facebook page/Taya Gray, Desert Sun