True Intentions Broadcast
DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA – In it to win it? Or in it to help make sure one of two top contenders for mayor came out victorious in the recent Desert Hot Springs
That’s the question examining the motivations of a candidate that entered a race where it was certain he would split the vote. In the aftermath of a nail-bitter election for mayor that was decided by just 12 votes, the fundamental question underscoring the candidacy of also-ran candidate John Paul Valdez is was he in the race to win or was his intention only to be an election spoiler in support of former mayor Yvonne Parks re-election efforts?
Throughout the campaign John Paul Valdez was steadfast in his contention he would win.
Yet, his campaign showed no signs of a serious candidate. Except for his name on the ballot and a sprinkling of campaign signs, his campaign was close to invisible.
He sent not one campaign mailing and his campaign signs that were blown away were often not replaced. Campaign meet-the-candidate-events were poorly attended, if at all. De regueur endorsements by elected officials, civic leaders, local businesses and institutions were totally absent.
Even his billboard sign, the city’s first campaign sign to awaken election season and strategically located adjacent to a Spanish market, came down a month before the election.
It was either an incredibly inept election effort or his campaign was designed only to pull votes from Mayor-elect Adam Sanchez, Yvonne Parks other challenger for the mayor’s seat, thereby assuring a re-election victory for Parks. Valdez nearly accomplished that by sucking up 340 votes.
Sucking Up Success
In comments to The Desert Sun newspaper, John-Paul Valdez let it be known he considered his losing campaign a success by drawing just 15% of the vote and that he was able to make it such a close race between Sanchez and Parks.
“My feelings about the election, since you have asked, are that my campaign finished with an enormously successful 15 percent of the vote with two other contenders finishing with 42 percent each,” said Valdez . “I am to this day within 12 votes of determining who will sit in the Mayor’s seat. That is quite an accomplishment.”
John-Paul Valdez mentioned no other reason for his campaign in his comments to The Desert Sun. It was as if his sole objective was to rob Sanchez of the votes needed to unseat the incumbent mayor.
In His Own Words
Admissions in emails obtained by Desert Vortex News also clarify the motivations of John-Paul Valdez. It appears his objective was not just to be a spoiler but also carried an expectation he would find himself with a city job in a re-elected Yvonne Parks administration. Was that real wholesale raison d’être of his campaign?
In a November 8 email – sent at time when Parks was still ahead in the vote count but awaiting a final confirming vote tally – it was John-Paul Valdez who wrote to Yvonne Parks to make his pitch for a job. His email used the news the city was facing a fiscal emergency as justification for his hiring.
“The KESQ story on the DHS bankruptcy is one that is leading to inquiries to me as regards the city’s finances already this morning. As a former candidate for Mayor, and a financial professional of some 30 years, this is precisely the type of question that I am frequently asked in any number of situations. The best financial professionals can explain the win/win when they are as qualified as I am,” wrote John-Paul Valdez.
Valdez continued, “This represents an ideal opportunity for the city to put a buffer between the reputation of non-financial professionals, and those who can explain the best possible alternatives in the best possible way. This is a sensitive time. If you believe such management experience could benefit the city on the administrative side, I hope you will let me know soon. The news story is breaking as of last night, and I am entertaining other opportunities since my run for office.”
Yvonne Parks replied to John-Paul Valdez acknowledging her belief that Valdez had expertise that could be useful and expressing her appreciation for his offer.
“I suggest you attend the meeting on nov 12 if you are available. Any expertise will be appreciated,” Yvonne Parks wrote.
It was also clear on November 8 that John-Paul Valdez believed the race had been decided for Yvonne Parks and that she would be the arbiter of any hiring at city hall after the election.
“I see Mr Sanchez has lost for a third time in four races as I predicted before his announcement to run in the first place,” wrote Valdez in an email to Councilman Russell Betts who supported Adam Sanchez in the election.
As for her part, former Mayor Yvonne Parks recognized the value of having two candidates challenging her in her re-election efforts when she said “the more the mayorier” in response to news Valdez would enter the race. It was a play on words that indicated Parks recognized the value of a vote splitting candidate to her re-election efforts.
Splitting the Vote
Was it innocent or planned? Was it a case of a surprise second challenger rising up against her that had no chance to win and assuring the split vote would put her back in the mayor’s seat? Or was it all part of the Yvonne Parks re-election strategy? In other words, was John-Paul Valdez put up to take on the job of election spoiler?
The campaign strategy of John-Paul Valdez seemed fashioned with a focus more on weirdly undermining Adam Sanchez than on unseating Yvonne Parks. Notably, his attacks on Adam Sanchez consisted of asserting Sanchez could not speak Spanish, but that he, Valdez, did. Therefore he “was more Spanish than Sanchez.”
That supposedly all the Hispanic businesses in the city supported him, not Sanchez.
That his job as a Spanish-speaking financial analyst on Spanish television station Univision gave him an unprecedented advantage in communicating with the Hispanic population of the city.
That Sanchez was derelict in not attending the candidate’s forum (Sanchez had a pre-existing mandatory working commitment) and that Sanchez was responsible for the city’s sour finances despite the fact Sanchez voted no for the deficit budget and opposed every money losing scheme of Yvonne Parks and her team.
Desert Vortex News does not have confirmation in the form of any emails between Yvonne Parks and John-Paul Valdez that they might have shared that was out-of-public view. The emails obtained for this story were sent through a city email server, a public source of information and easily obtained.
Majority of Voters Rejected Yvonne Parks
What is clear is that had John-Paul Valdez not entered the race, the election would have been anything but a nail-biting down-to-the-wire election finish. Clearly the 15% of the votes that went to challenger Valdez would have been added to challenger Adam Sanchez and making for a decisive victory for Sanchez.
Writing on November 4 and a day before the election, John-Paul Valdez wrote in an email to Yvonne Parks and the other candidates, “Each of us will receive exactly the number of votes we have earned, including Yvonne Parks.”
It appears Valdez was just 12 votes short of earning the votes he was supposed to swing towards Parks. It also appears extremely unlikely John-Paul Valdez will find himself with a job at city hall.
Another confirming tid-bit of collusion between the Parks and Valdez campaign occurred when John-Paul Valdez showed up at the election recount at the Riverside office of the Registrar of Voters. He arrived without any designated representatives. Each candidate is allowed two people to help with the recount.
The Parks campaign, on the other hand showed up with three people, one extra. Yvonne Parks offered her extra representative to John-Paul Valdez to assist his campaign during the recount.
With Parks looking for just 12 votes to gain her an election victory, clearly any more votes taken from Sanchez by Valdez would have pushed Parks closer to victory with Valdez’s recount help. And with that in mind, that Yvonne Parks aided John Paul Valdez in the election re-count, the actual purpose of his campaign appears perfectly clear.
Oh, that billboard of the Valdez campaign taken down one month before the election? Everyone knows that election campaign billboards are purchased well in advance of election day and billboard “real estate” is a valuable asset held tight until election day. That same billboard was replaced with one for Yvonne Parks and her “team” that did stay up until election day.
For over 40 years Dean has been published in a variety of small newspapers and magazines. As publisher he founded an alternative city weekly newspaper in 2008 and published over 200 uninterrupted issues over 4 years to over 20,000 readers via 800 locations (and online) before selling the business. Now online with over 3 million readers worldwide.
Dean is a Master Carpenter and the author of the biography of Hilda M Gray, desert homesteader. He served as Planning Commissioner for the city of Desert Hot Springs from January 2014 to January 2015 when he resigned.
Dean M Gray is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors and lives in Palm Desert, California.