About the Cathedral City candidates
Charles “Bud” England
Occupation: Business owner
No information submitted
Campaign website: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stanley E. Henry
Occupation: Retired Cathedral City police chief, adjunct faculty at College of the Desert
Paul S. Marchand
Occupation: Attorney and small business owner
Jens Volke Mueller
Occupation: Painting and wall covering contractor
Occupation: Realtor and part-time managing director of CSUSB-Palm Desert’s Palm Springs Institute for Environmental Sustainability
CATHEDRAL CITY — As part of The Desert Sun’s election coverage, we asked Cathedral City City Council candidates to answer five questions on topics that impact voters in the city. Candidates were allowed 75 words per answer.
Seven candidates are vying for two seats currently held by Bud England and Greg Pettis.
Cities across the Coachella Valley have trimmed budgets to make up for declining revenues in order to keep their budgets balanced. What ideas do you have that will help generate more revenue for your city?
Bud England: As a business owner and family man, I know how to live within a budget and how to be creative in stretching a dollar. The city must be creative as well. Further economic development and business retention is a must. The city must utilize our Chamber of Commerce and commercial real estate brokers to help feature and promote our community.
Gary Figgins: Cathedral City needs a city manager that manages the city correctly and who knows better than to put money into the general fund that should be held elsewhere. I am referring to the redevelopment fund.
Ron Garcia: Streaming the permit process and business license applications would make it easier and more efficient for someone to open a business in our city. The city can’t keep relying on sales tax to help it through the good and bad times.
Stan Henry: We have some important competitive advantages to attract businesses to Cathedral City. The city has a tremendous auto mall, important travel corridor, available land and existing commercial space that is prime for new service, manufacturing and retail businesses. We must make new policies in City Hall that announce that Cathedral City is ready and open for business and that we want to be a productive partner for economic development.
Paul Marchand: The city should consider the legality and feasibility of leasing downtown properties to developers on long-term ground leases for steady-stream revenue, not one-time money. The city needs to take another look at community choice aggregation for energy, providing electricity to residents and businesses and revenue to our general fund. Though legal constraints prevent us from having an economic development department as such, we need a professional doing economic development, not ad-hoc efforts by the council.
Jens Mueller: The average cost of public safety services in the five cities that contract with Riverside County for police and fire services is $200,000. Cathedral City spends over $300,000. Contracting with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Cal Fire could save the city over $6 million per year. That $6 million will be used to rebuild reserves and pave our roads. Businesses want to relocate to clean, attractive cities with sound budgets.
Greg Pettis: Our first job was to reduce spending. Job done. Now the city can grow — smarter. We must focus on businesses that bring in revenue via sales tax, bed tax and/or other fees. I have successfully brought Cathedral City millions in federal and state grants. We must remain focused on similar opportunities. North City, north of Interstate 10, allows tremendous opportunity to take advantage of freeway traffic to add revenue for our city.
Why should people looking to relocate consider Cathedral City versus other Coachella Valley cities?
England: The same reason I did 21 years ago — great and unique neighborhoods, the best school district in the valley, affordable housing, friendly people, parks and activities for kids and adults. Today we can say Cathedral City has the lowest crime rate in the valley, according to an FBI report. Our police and fire departments continue to prove they can do more with less.
Figgins: No answer submitted.
Garcia: No answer submitted.
Henry: Cathedral City shines with so many of the essential elements that create a special quality of life. We have superior schools, successful graduates, quality teachers and a safe learning environment. We have the unmatched home values and opportunities for commercial investment. We also have tremendous advantages in location because we prosper from being between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage and can provide the features those communities need but cannot supply themselves.
Marchand: Propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding, Cathedral City continues to have some of the best crime statistics in the valley. Per US News & World Report also one of the most economical places in the country for seniors to retire. Further, Cathedral City has long been a welcoming community for working families and for the valley’s second largest LGBT community. In our diversity is our appeal.
Mueller: Cathedral City has a bright future. There are great housing opportunities, and we are centrally located in the Coachella Valley. Travel to surrounding communities is quick and easy. Every service or store under the sun is available here in Cathedral City, and you can be anywhere in the valley within minutes.
Pettis: Cathedral City has always been popular with desert newcomers because the city has the lowest crime rate in the desert, excellent schools, the most affordable housing in the western valley and a vibrant community who honors our diversity. Quite simply, we have something great for everyone.
How would you sell Cathedral City to potential businesses and companies looking to relocate or start up?
England: Cathedral City has a unique and diverse demographic with a mixture of retirees, blue- and white-collar workers, young families and families raising their grandchildren. With a median household income around $65,000 and a population close to 53,000, Cathedral City makes a great place to locate or relocate your business. Our city staff is accommodating, and we have revised many of our ordinances to become the most business friendly community in the valley.
Figgins: No answer submitted.
Garcia: If all of the work around the city was done, the city would sell itself. That’s how most cities do it. The same way you’d sell your home — most people look at the way it’s maintained. The same concept is true with our city. If it’s maintained, people will come.
Henry: Cathedral City is a tremendous value for investing in new business opportunities. We have rock solid demographics, and we have a competitive sales tax rate. Cathedral City has the second-largest population in the Coachella Valley, and we are advantageously located between Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs.
Marchand: Geography and demographics favor the city. The city is centrally located, with significant freeway access and a large, skilled workforce. Our Perez Road business corridor, where I have offices, is a thriving engine of prosperity. Moreover, by locating close to its workforce, a business can be significantly more “green” than if it were distant from its employees.
Mueller: Cathedral City offers a great opportunity for business. There is no “selling” that a politician can do to convince a significant business to locate here. What the city can offer a business is an efficient, well-run government that has a balanced budget, smooth streets, lower fees and assessments. As long as government does not get in the way, we have the demographics, diversity and central location that will attract businesses.
Pettis: Cathedral City has a younger population than any of its neighboring cities; a higher per capita income than Palm Springs; and a greater racial, ethnic and sexual orientation diversity than our surrounding cities. We have more land to build on, less regulation and a stronger “let’s make it happen” attitude. From both a consumer and workforce perspective, we have it all.
What are your feelings about incorporating Thousand Palms into Cathedral City’s city limits?
England: Greg Pettis and I have worked on the sub-committee to incorporate Thousand Palms for several years. We have worked through many challenges and changed many opinions. Thousand Palms is within our sphere of influence, and the city is currently finishing the feasibility study. The study includes the greater Thousand Palms area from Bob Hope past the Classic Club, and all points in between. I’ve read the report and still have questions, but it looks promising.
Figgins: No answer submitted.
Garcia: Geographically, it doesn’t make sense. But, if we are looking for a tax base, Thousand Palms has it. The area has commercial and industry potential already built in.
Henry: My position on annexing Thousand Palms is the same as annexing any area to Cathedral City’s jurisdiction. There must be a net benefit to our community. We need to make informed decisions, and bigger is not always better. Thousand Palms is a wonderful community, and there are great possibilities for both Cathedral City and Thousand Palms if incorporation is done right. I need more answers before I can support or oppose annexation.
Marchand: There exists significant potential for both communities, but for any annexation to work, there must be significant support from the inhabitants of both communities. If the annexation goes through, we must consider the feasibility/legality of going from an at-large council to one elected by district to ensure that all residents of the enlarged Cathedral City are fairly represented. If necessary, we must either become a charter city or seek legislation to that end.
Mueller: We should continue to pursue the possibility of annexing Thousand Palms. It presents an enormous opportunity for business growth and revenue. That being said, it is our moral imperative that our fiscal house be in order and on more stable ground before we ask the citizens of that community to join us and in so doing, become the largest city in the Coachella Valley.
Pettis: I am very positive about the future financial strength of Cathedral City and the future development of Thousand Palms. The residents of Thousand Palms get improved services that will lead to an improved quality of life. They will have greater representation by their elected officials. Permits will be streamlined locally. If the annexation is revenue neutral in the first three years, this will cement Cathedral City as the preeminent desert city.
How do you feel about social media’s growing prominence (Facebook, Twitter, texting) in political campaigns? Do you plan on using social media in your campaign? Why or why not?
England: The social media venue has just exploded over the past few years, and it’s great if you have the time. Social media offers more ways for people to communicate.
Figgins: No answer submitted.
Garcia: I think social media is good as long as everyone is on the same level.
Henry: Social media is here to stay. But, I will never use Twitter or Facebook to replace personal contact and communication with my fellow Cathedral City residents. My goal is to personally meet as many Cathedral City residents as possible, in person, to share their concerns and interests.
Marchand: Social media is a fact of life. As the Sufi poet Celaleddin Rumi once said, “It is what it is.” I’ve used social media before, and I am using it now. An institution or a candidate that does not embrace technology is out of touch and not serving well the constituency the institution or candidate is supposed to serve or represent.
Mueller: Facebook has afforded my campaign the opportunity to reach thousands of Cathedral City voters for pennies when compared to traditional campaign methods. Also, and perhaps more importantly, after I win a seat on the council, I intend on using social media to engage the citizens and listen to their concerns when making decisions that affect their lives and community.
Pettis: Social media is a large component of how I report back to residents. I have been active on Facebook, Twitter, Google Talk, Yahoo and Windows Messenger for quite some time, with close to 2,000 friends on Facebook alone. I also send regular email reports to my ever-growing list of 7,000 residents, voters and businesses. Digital media is an effective tool but only part of my outreach work.