Christy Holstege and Greg Wallis.

Palm Springs City Councilmember Christy Holstege is making her first run for state office as she seeks to represent California’s new Assembly District 47, which includes most of the Coachella Valley west of Indio and Coachella.

A third-generation resident of the Coachella Valley, Holstege earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before earning a law degree from Stanford University.

Holstege, a Democrat, was elected to the Palm Springs City Council in 2017, and cites involvement with groups including Planned Parenthood, Eastern Coachella Valley for Change, the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission, the City of Palm Springs Homelessness Task Force, the Coachella Valley Association of Governments and others. In the June 7 primary election, Holstege finished first, garnering 46.5% of the ballots cast, and as of June 30, her campaign had raised $620,522.

Republican Greg Wallis, a third-generation Californian and Bermuda Dunes resident, has served as the district director for outgoing Assembly member Chad Mayes since 2014.

According to LinkedIn, after studying political science at the California Lutheran University, Wallis worked for a year and a half as an account executive for Mann Communications. After a stint as executive director of the Inland Empire Taxpayer’s Association, he became the campaign manager for Brian Nestande’s unsuccessful 2014 run for the Congress. In the primary, Wallis finished second with 34.5% of the vote, and as of June 30, his campaign had raised $221,253.

The Independent recently reached out to both Holstege and Wallis to ask them a slate of seven identical questions. While Holstege answered the questions via telephone, Wallis—just before our scheduled phone interview—emailed to say he would be unexpectedly unavailable. After that, Wallis did not respond to a request to re-schedule, and would only answer our questions via email.

Here are their responses, which have been edited only for clarity and editorial style.


Christy Holstege

Christy Holstege.

If you are elected, what do you consider to be your top three legislative priorities?

I think the challenges that we face as a state, and as a region, might be daunting. We’re facing a climate crisis, an affordability crisis and a housing crisis, and I want to work on those issues right away if elected to the state Assembly. Those are the issues I’ve been leading on already during my five years in elected office in the Coachella Valley.

First is access to affordable housing and combating homelessness. As the mayor of the city of Palm Springs, as a councilmember, as the chair of our regional collaboration on homelessness with all nine cities in the Coachella Valley, we’ve gotten real results keeping people in permanent housing. We’ve approved hundreds of units of affordable housing. We’ve invested over $10 million in building new housing. We secured $10 million from the state of California to build a world-class navigation center with housing and services.

No. 2 is regional economic development. We know we need good-paying jobs in the Coachella Valley that can support people’s careers and assist people in taking care of their families. We’re working to create stable jobs and careers that pay a living wage with benefits, and we need to invest in a regional economy that lifts all of us up, protects workers in local businesses, and increases access to social services.

Third is protecting our environment. I’ll focus on being a leader in the Coachella Valley, and in this region, on bringing in green and cleaner energy, like wind and solar. I’m looking forward to leading the way for the state in our transition to renewable energy to protect our environment and reverse the effects of climate change.

Given the dire impacts of climate change (wildfires, floods, extreme heat events, etc.) that we are currently witnessing, what state actions would you support to reduce the effect that these threats present to the well-being of our valley communities?

Here in the Coachella Valley, and in this region in the desert, our communities are on the front lines of the climate-change crisis, and we’re already experiencing the impacts. There are more and more days over 120 degrees, which is bordering on uninhabitable for us here in the Coachella Valley. Record highs, wildfires, drought—there’s just more extreme weather. I’m really proud to be the candidate who is concentrating on climate resiliency and protecting our environment. I’m the only candidate who’s been endorsed by the Sierra Club, California Environmental Voters, the California Environmental Justice Alliance and so many more. Addressing the climate crisis is one of my main priorities. While on the City Council for five years, I’ve continued to lead on this issue. We passed green policies, and I led the way on banning “forever” chemicals in the city of Palm Springs. We’ve preserved important open space areas for the environment like Oswit Canyon.

In the state Assembly, I’ll push for policies and support legislation to invest in more green and renewable energy projects which we can be a leader on for the entire state to build a green and sustainable future. Also, we need to make sure we invest (to curb) the impacts of climate crises on our communities, especially in the Coachella Valley.

In 1972, the population of Riverside County was roughly 493,000, while in 2020, it had reached 2.5 million. How would you propose the state address the need for speedier, more-efficient mass-transit solutions for eastern Riverside County?

Riverside County is growing at an unprecedented rate. We’re one of the fastest-growing counties, not just in this state, but in the nation. I believe that the future of California is inland California, like Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It’s critical that we ensure access to transportation.

Actually, my first job in the Coachella Valley was with Shelter From the Storm, a domestic-violence nonprofit shelter, where I worked and started a legal-aid clinic. My domestic-violence clients couldn’t take a bus to Riverside to get public benefits that they were entitled to. That’s the type of transportation need that we have in this county. So I strongly support obtaining state funding for mass transit. We’ve already been working on the Palm Springs City Council to have conversations with Amtrak about expanding rail service to and from, and within, the Coachella Valley. We’ve been working on expanding passenger rail from L.A. and other areas all the way to the Coachella Valley. That’s something we’ve been working on for many years, and that I think we can achieve.

Then, finally, fighting for our fair share of state resources and explaining our need for transportation (is important), because I think that, too often, counties like ours get left behind by the state. Other legislators don’t fully understand the real lack of transportation infrastructure in areas like ours. So I’m really looking forward to passing bills, finding funding and fighting for our region in a way that really moves the needle on our ability to get people to our communities here in a cleaner and easier way.

Do you have a plan to address the critical current shortage of affordable housing in the Coachella Valley, which is being exacerbated by inflationary price increases for both home and apartment purchases and rentals?

Yes. This is an area—increasing the supply of affordable and attainable housing—that I’ve been working on for nearly 10 years. As we know, nearly everyone is being impacted by the cost of living and the cost of housing. The Coachella Valley and this region used to be an affordable place to live. You could buy a home for $300,000, and you could pay for it on your salary, and that’s no longer the case. We’re seeing prices skyrocket, and too many people are paying too much of their income on rent or mortgages. So this, too, is a crisis which we need to act with urgency on, and that’s what we’ve been doing on the Palm Springs City Council. Now, we have more than 200 units of affordable housing coming online soon because of our actions.

Like I said, we’ve secured $10 million for housing from the state of California, and we expect to get another award of $19 million more to build housing for people experiencing homelessness. I’ve supported policies in the city of Palm Springs to make it easier to move faster to build new housing, which we very much need in the Coachella Valley. I’m really proud of my track record on this. I’ve served on the board of the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition, a nonprofit affordable housing developer. I’ve served on the board of Well in the Desert, which is a homelessness services provider. And I’ve worked as an attorney with landlords and tenants on housing issues, and practiced housing law, so I’m, by far, the most experienced candidate on housing issues to be able to get real results for our region.

What steps should the state of California have taken, or take now, to lessen the impact of inflation?

The cost of housing, groceries, gas and basic necessities is too high and impacting people’s ability to put food on their table. No Californian should have to choose between paying for medicine, or food, and paying for rent. I’m proud to have worked as a civil rights attorney and poverty-law attorney. I’ve represented hundreds and hundreds of people living in the Coachella Valley and this region who are living in poverty or are impacted. But we know that everyone’s being impacted by the cost of living increases due to inflation that we’re seeing.

I really believe in the California dream. I’m a third-generation Californian, and my son is a fourth-generation resident of this district. That California dream, and the Coachella Valley dream, should be available to everyone. I believe that we have to invest in our local economy and our regional economic development, to build an economy that really can have good-paying jobs with living wages. And then (we need) to fight for our fair share of resources for our district, so that we can have a real recovery from the pandemic. You know, our region was hit hard by the pandemic. While some industries have bounced back, many people are not seeing their incomes (return to) the same rate it was before. At the state level, I think we need to strengthen our state’s economy so our residents have the resources they need to afford the increases in everyday expenses, like gas and groceries. We need to make significant investments in housing, health care and child care, so that basic needs are more affordable and accessible. I know as a parent myself, with a 21-month-old, the cost of child care is incredibly expensive. That’s something that the state can subsidize through its policies to provide more cheaply, so (those costs) are not all coming out of a family’s budget.

Also, I think we should hold large corporations accountable for paying their fair share of taxes to fund public services, and for their role in price gouging, when that’s happening. We’re seeing inflation and costs go up, while so many large corporations are making record profits. Long-term, I think we need to increase the economic drivers for our region, like access to a four-year university, increased passenger rail, and diversifying our economy into other industries.

Gov. Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 1327, which allows individuals to file civil suits against anyone who manufactures, distributes, transports, sells or imports firearms banned in California. The Legislature had been considering Senate Bill 505 (which was recently held in committee), which would make a person who owns a firearm civilly liable for each incident of property damage, bodily injury, or death resulting from the use of the firearm. Would you have voted for or against SB 1327 or SB 505?

Thank you for asking this question. I’m the mom of a toddler who sends her kid to daycare and is going to see him go to school. Having a child in a world with so many guns and not enough safety regulations to prevent gun violence is concerning, especially since the federal government refuses to act (to curb) the epidemic of gun violence across this nation and in California. I think it’s critical that California takes measures to make our communities safer, and to protect everyone in California from gun violence. So, yes, I applaud those forward-looking bills. I would have supported them, and I vehemently disagree with the Supreme Court decision that SB 1327 is based on, which allows individuals to sue abortion providers. I think we need to be careful in how we think about how (such) laws can be used. But I do think California needs to be using all the tools we have to implement gun-safety measures, and this is a common-sense measure. Gun companies are profiting on gun violence, and they know what they’re doing. So that’s very different from the Texas (abortion-related) law.

I’m proud to be the only candidate in this race to receive the Moms Demand Action gun sense distinction. I believe my opponent has received an “A” (grade) from the (National Rifle Association) for choosing to fill out their questionnaire. So I think this is an incredibly important question to be asking of our state Legislature, and our state legislative candidates, and it highlights the distinctions between the two candidates in this race.

You know, I’ve led the way on some of these policies locally. We’ve been able to get hundreds of guns off our streets in Palm Springs. Working with our Palm Springs Police Department, the city spearheaded a gun buyback program last year, and we got 150 guns off our streets in just that one day. We’ve been taking other actions to protect our community from gun violence.

Do you support California’s commitment to provide support to women in our country who want to obtain an abortion, and who are now prohibited from doing so legally in the state where they reside?

Yes, absolutely. I firmly believe California must be supporting reproductive health care and abortion access. Actually, I called for this action in a Desert Sun op-ed that was published months ago, after the Dobbs decision was leaked initially. In our post-Roe reality, California needs to step up and be a sanctuary for pregnant women across the country who are seeking access to safe abortion care and access to health care.

This issue is very personal to me. I’ve spent my career fighting for reproductive rights. I founded a free legal clinic for domestic-violence survivors and their children. While there, I witnessed how access to reproductive health care is often a life-and-death matter that impacts people’s survival in abusive relationships. It’s helped survivors flee from reproductive coercion and abuse. It’s a critical issue for our region. Already, we’ve seen an increase in patients travelling here to the Coachella Valley for abortion care from neighboring anti-choice states like Arizona. I was a patient at Planned Parenthood when I was a teenager, and from that experience, I saw the incredible work that Planned Parenthood does for communities on health care, and other issues. I worked for Planned Parenthood, and I just served six years on a board of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest locally. So this is an incredibly important issue to me, and I’m incredibly proud to have been endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, NARAL (Pro-Choice America Foundation), Vote Pro-Choice, the national Women’s Political Committee and Moms in Office, among other women’s rights organizations or reproductive justice organizations. My opponent has received a pro-life rating, and has stated that we should :wait and see” on abortion rights and reproductive health care access.

This should not be a political issue. It should only be between a woman, her doctor and her family. I’m proud of my track record on this issue, and the work that I’ve done as a councilmember. In the Assembly, I’ll always fight to make sure that every person can have access to an abortion and access to reproductive health care, and ensure that California is here to take care of people who need access to basic health care.


Greg Wallis

Greg Wallis.

If you are elected, what do you consider to be your top three legislative priorities?

First, (would be) to reduce the cost of living for hardworking people by suspending the (state) gas tax and using part of the multi-billion-dollar surplus to pass the largest tax cut in California history. With inflation surging, people need more money in their pockets to pay the bills.

Second, dramatically increase the number of shelters and long-term treatment facilities for mental health and addiction, so that we can start getting the homeless off the streets. (We need to) require all state property to be clear of homeless camps and trash.

And third, immediately start building the water storage we desperately need, but which has not been built, even though voters passed the funds to do so years ago.

Given the dire impacts of climate change (wildfires, floods, extreme heat events, etc.) that we are currently witnessing, what state actions would you support to reduce the effect that these threats present to the well-being of our valley communities?

Go on a war footing with fire. That means clearing underbrush, servicing our forests, and making sure every home and business has a good fire break. It’s hardly a secret that California has a regular fire season, so let’s actually prepare properly for it. (There are) innumerable things we can do to reduce our percentage of what causes climate change, many of which the state is already doing. One thing, that would have a major impact, would be the construction of clean nuclear power in less-accessible regions of the state, so that we won’t be reliant on fossil fuels.

In 1972, the population of Riverside County was roughly 493,000, while in 2020, it had reached 2.5 million. How would you propose the state address the need for speedier, more-efficient mass-transit solutions for eastern Riverside County?

Given the state’s lackluster history with the high speed rail—which is billions over budget and years behind—I think we need to focus on building wider and better roads, both to relieve traffic gridlock and to provide more and better routes for public transportation buses.

Do you have a plan to address the critical current shortage of affordable housing in the Coachella Valley, which is being exacerbated by inflationary price increases for both home and apartment purchases and rentals?

To lower the price of housing, you need to build more affordable houses and apartments. Right now, unfair government fees and regulations make housing difficult and unaffordable to build. We need to clean up the system by reducing those fees and regulations to make it easy to build new, affordable housing.

What steps should the state of California have taken, or take now, to lessen the impact of inflation?

The best thing we could do to help people fight inflation is let them keep more of their hard-earned money to start with, instead of sending it to Sacramento. I support a suspension of the (state) gas tax, and using part of the billions of dollars of the state budget surplus to give people the biggest tax cut in California history.

Gov. Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 1327, which allows individuals to file civil suits against anyone who manufactures, distributes, transports, sells or imports firearms banned in California. The Legislature had been considering Senate Bill 505 (which was recently held in committee), which would make a person who owns a firearm civilly liable for each incident of property damage, bodily injury, or death resulting from the use of the firearm. Would you have voted for or against SB 1327 or SB 505?

California already has the toughest gun laws in the country. Instead of playing political games in his bid for president, maybe Gov. Newsom should spend a little more time figuring out how to deal with the fact that our K-12 schools are 44th in the nation; we are the least affordable state in the nation; and homelessness and crime are out of control.

Do you support California’s commitment to provide support to women in our country who want to obtain an abortion, and who are now prohibited from doing so legally in the state where they reside?

In other words, do I support people in the United States being able to travel to any state in the union to get a service of any sort? Yes. Most Californians have a pretty reasonable view on abortion, basically that it should be safe and available, but that the more-radical aspects of the process, like late-term abortions, shouldn’t be encouraged. I share that view.

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Kevin Fitzgerald

Kevin Fitzgerald is the staff writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. He started as a freelance writer for the Independent in June 2013, more than a year after he and his wife moved from Los Angeles...