Anayeli Zavala

Name: Anayeli Zavala

Age: 26

Occupation: Education/internship coordinator

Interview: In person

1. Describe the city’s current budget situation. How do you plan to balance the budget and take care of the city?

I think it means being fiscally conservative, just as the council has been thus far, to make sure we’re staying within our means and not exceeding what our budget is. Obviously, we don’t want to end up in the situation we were in a few years ago again. I think it’s great that we’re not in a deficit any more, but I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet. I think we need an understanding of what we can pay for and what services we can provide as a city.

2. Aside from hiring more officers, what can be done to tackle DHS’ crime rate?

Making sure we’re not just working with the police department, but also doing what can we do in the school district. We have a large percentage of young people who are committing all these crimes, for whatever reason; it could be nothing to do, but I’m not really sure. I think we need to build a relationship with the school district so we can reach out to those students who are going in the wrong direction; work with the probation department; and work with mental-health services as well. Sometimes there are mental issues that are involved and need to be addressed. Police officers aren’t necessarily equipped to be dealing with mental-health issues, so we need to make sure we’re cooperating on all levels to have a public-safety approach that not only encompasses the police department, but also might be touched by public safety. Also, (we need to) be supportive of our new police chief’s approach to community policing.

3. How do you plan to attract new businesses to Desert Hot Springs?

We need a vision in our city on where we want it to go. What are our two year goals? Ten-year goals? Twenty-year goals? (We need to make) sure we have a general plan, because that coincides with the vision for the city. Once we’ve created this vision of where we want our city to go, we need to make sure we are targeting industries and businesses that we want to have in our city that align with our vision. We also need to provide incentive programs that target those businesses. There are a few different avenues we can take with this. On a more local level, I sit on a board for a microloan bank that will be operating soon here in Desert Hot Springs, and we’re going to be providing small-business loans to residents who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs. Often times, people want to start a business, but they don’t have the collateral to get a traditional loan from a bank.

4. DHS has a problem with homelessness. What can the city do to fix this

I think it’s important to work with the county to leverage resources and (see) how we can bring additional funding to things like Roy’s Resource Center. It’s really just about the city being restrictive in its finances; the county, with its funds, we should look into how to bring those resources here.

5. If you could challenge every DHS resident to do one thing, what would that one thing be?

Post one positive thing about their community on social media, or even call the newspaper. No city is perfect, but it’s evident that we don’t have the best reputation in the media, and I think that’s slowly starting to change. But as residents, we need to be part of that active process in redefining our image. There are plenty of people here who are hardworking, honest and not criminals. There are people doing positive things for the community who don’t often get that recognition or that publicity.

6. Palm Drive/Gene Autry or Indian Canyon? Why?

Palm Drive/Gene Autry. It’s a lot easier to drive on than Indian Canyon.

7. Date shake or bacon-wrapped dates? Why?

I’m going to say date shake, because I have a weakness for desserts.

8. If someone gave you a $100 gift card to the DHS Kmart, what would you buy?

I would buy books and workout DVDs.

9. If someone walked up to you and told you that DHS was the worst place to live in California, what would your response be?

I would say, “That is not true and I completely oppose that statement!” I would let them know we’re not perfect, but there are a ton of people trying to do positive things in the community. I think that needs to be showcased and highlighted. If you go looking for trouble, you’ll find it anywhere you go. I’ve lived here my whole life; I’m 4 foot 11, and I have done just fine. 

10. Award-winning water from the tap, or bottled water?

From the tap!

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Brian Blueskye moved to the Coachella Valley in 2005. He was the assistant editor and staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent from 2013 to 2019. He is currently the...