COACHELLA, Calif. - There are some big issues on the table in Coachella, including the expanding marijuana industry, heading into the November election. Five council member candidates, running for two open seats, met face-to-face in a forum.
The forum was hosted by the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce.
"It was a fantastic opportunity for both the candidates and the community to be here and ask questions, intimately, one on one," said Chairman Ernesto Rosales for Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Current mayor Steven Hernandez is up for re-election but is running unopposed. Five qualified candidates will appear on the ballot but current council member Steve Brown said he's not campaigning and has endorsed other candidates in the field for city council. Brown was appointed to city council following council member Manny Perez's appointment to the Board of County Supervisors.
The other four qualified candidates are:
- Megan Beaman-Jacinto - a civil rights attorney
- Victor Alcantara - a long time resident and sports advocate
- Josie Gonzalez - a social worker
- and Gilbert Ramirez Jr. - a former council member
Only half of the candidates showed up to the forum, some constituents were upset that not all were present but those who were started off with opening remarks followed by an array of questions from a moderator.
Some candidates are focusing on development.
"We're a city that is over half rural and undeveloped, which is part of the character of our city, it's a great aspect to our city, but it also presents challenges when we are ready to develop or we're anticipating development and sometimes the infrastructure is inadequate, said Beaman-Jacinto.
Brown also says he wants to improve infrastructure and development.
"We need a new fire station, we need some grade separation, lots of infrastructure to continue to be going on. Having my experience with the state and with knowing funding sources, I think I can be very helpful," said Brown.
Alcantara, a soccer coach, says he wants to improve opportunities for the youth of the community.
"The most important thing for me is, what is the identity of Coachella? Is it the big cannabis industry or is it the young people fighting every day to be somebody in life? Playing soccer, playing sports, going to college to get the tools for the next level of education," Alcantara said.
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