With campaign season heating up, voters’ attention has turned to Palm Springs City Council races in districts 1, 2, and 3. But at recently completed weekend forums and on social media, one question has lingered: What about districts 4 and 5?
At issue: Palm Springs switched to district-wide elections in 2019, dividing the city into five separate districts. It also eliminated the elected mayor position and chose to rotate the mayoral role between councilmembers, assuring that the position is mainly ceremonial.
- Districts 4 and 5 held elections in 2020 and won’t be on the ballot again until November 2024.
But wait: In a unique twist, the District 4 seat might be on a separate ballot later this year. If Councilmember Christy Holstege – a former mayor – wins her campaign for California State Assembly, she will leave the Council, creating a hole.
- The city has two options should Holstege leave before her term expires: The remaining members of the City Council can interview candidates and appoint a new District 4 representative, or the city can hold an election.
- While the state provides the City Council with 60 days to either appoint new Council members or call a special election, the city’s charter limits that timeline to 45 days.
Zoom in: While it’s true District 4 was not discussed at recent forums because it is not on the November ballot, it’s also true that candidates have started lobbying to be appointed or voted into place.
- Joe Jackson, a former chair of the city’s Sustainability Commission, filed paperwork earlier this year indicating he intends to seek the possibly vacant District 4 seat.
- This week, a second candidate entered the fray. In an email to The Post, Ernest Cecena said he would also file the necessary paperwork and seek the seat.
Cecena is no stranger to those in his district. The 48-year-old compliance auditor currently serves as chairman of the Tahquitz Creek Golf Neighborhood Organization. He is also on the Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS) Finance Committee and is president of a non-profit.
- Last year, Cecena was a driving force behind a group called “Save PS Golf,” helping to rally his neighbors against the sale of the city-owned Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort to Oswit Land Trust.
- “With oversight, whether it’s over general ledgers, mortgage rate adjustments, analyzing banking transactions for fraud, or servicing of loans, it’s about asking the right questions,” Cecena said. “…I want to understand the processes at hand, do they make sense, can they be improved, and get things done.”
Going forward: Once seated by either method, anyone who would potentially take Holstege’s place would serve out her current term and need to run again in 2024 to retain the seat.
Want to find your district? Check this handy map.