Two Indio residents are vying for the Desert Healthcare District Zone 6 seat, the only contested race in the district. Kimberly Barraza, health policy advisor, and Chauncey L. Thompson, director of a CPA firm, are seeking four-year terms.
In the last election, voters supported dividing the council into seven zones. This year Karen Borja, who first held the Zone 6 seat, announced that she would not run again.
Based on newly redrawn district lines following the 2020 census, Area 6 covers parts of Indio and Coachella. The district is a local government agency that aims to help Coachella Valley residents receive health care resources, housing, food, and other services.
Barraza, 34, grew up in the Imperial Valley but spent her adult life in Indio. She has worked in the office of Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia for the past eight years as a district representative and political adviser.
She said the job allowed her to connect with constituents and “help residents in our neighborhood.”
“Not many people have the ability to serve the community in them, and I’ve been serving my community for 15 years since I moved to Indio,” Barraza said. She also worked with the Desert Healthcare District through Garcia’s office.
His time in the Coachella Valley allowed him to identify the needs, particularly those related to health care, in Eastern communities. If elected, Barraza said one of the issues she would like to focus on is the shortage of primary care providers in the area.
Barraza would like to see more partnerships with local colleges and universities to “grow our own,” she said, and keep potential healthcare providers in the valley.
His list of priorities includes identifying sources of funding that would support the East Valley and advocating for behavioral and mental health and people with disabilities.
Thompson, 35, has lived in Indio since 2015. He is a director of Barton CPA and oversees day-to-day production, mergers, acquisitions and contract negotiations, as well as maintaining the company’s strategic planning.
His community involvement includes joining the Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine, which provides free healthcare services to uninsured and underinsured residents, in 2014. He later joined the board of directors and is treasurer since 2017, and he also sits on several committees within the organization.
Thompson also volunteers with Brothers of the Desert, a nonprofit that provides support and resources to Black men in the Valley, and has helped provide financial counseling to many.
He said he’s willing to spend the next 12 years, or three terms, serving on the Desert Healthcare District Board of Directors to work on upcoming issues, such as the 2027 expiration of the 30-year lease. years of Tenet Healthcare from the Desert Regional Medical Center, and the seismic renovations of the hospital which are to be completed by 2030.
The Desert Healthcare District estimates the cost to meet these modernization requirements to be between $119 million and $180 million.
“My whole thought was that I could combine my experience in the nonprofit sector as well as my experience in [the] financial industry and see how I can help not elevate the board, but enrich it,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s other priorities, if elected, include greater oversight of funds distributed in the community and the provision of behavioral and mental health services throughout the Valley. He would also like to see another hospital in the eastern valley.
Eliana Perez covers the eastern Coachella Valley. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter @ElianaPress.
Ema Sasic covers health in the Coachella Valley. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ema_sasic.
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