Ramirez ousted; Zepeda in

Gilbert Ramirez Jr., a longtime councilman who served almost 20 years lost re-election Tuesday.

Newcomber Magdalena “Maggie” Zepeda, a teacher, will join the Coachella City Council alongside Mayor Pro Tem Emmanuel Martinez who won his bid for re-election.

According to unofficial results released early today, Zepeda garnered the most votes receiving 33.77 percent of the vote followed by Martinez with 28.4 percent.

Ramirez came in third with 19.41 percent, followed by Jesse Villarreal with 18.42 percent of the vote.

Ramirez did not return a phone call Tuesday for comment and was not available Wednesday.

Zepeda on Tuesday said she was “overwhelmed” but excited about her new role.

“I just can’t believe it. I’m just the challenger coming in,” she said.

Zepeda thinks it was her reputation that helped convince voters to support her.

“People know me and they know I do good work,” she said.

Zepeda becomes the first woman on the City Council since Rosanna Contreras lost re-election in 2004.

“Coachella has just made the best decision. I won’t let anyone down,” she said.

In the mayoral race, Eduardo Garcia was elected to his third term with 71.7 percent of the vote. He defeated businessman and former city planning director Carmen Manriquez.

Manriquez, a long-time resident of Coachella, attributes his loss to lack of experience.

“Garcia and his running mates have been around for a while–they got support from other politicians such as Perez,” he said.

“They had the expertise and support from one another.”

Despite his defeat, Manriquez feels good about the experience he gained, which he describes as “invaluable.”

“I’m not going away,” Manriquez said. “I’m staying involved with the community. I’m a resident. I have that right.”

In a last-minute swing, newcomer Beatriz “Betty” Sanchez was elected Treasurer with 49 percent of the votes.

Sanchez beat out Sara Carranza, an educator, and Irene “India” Zarate.

Though it was her first time running for a city position, Sanchez has been involved in her community on smaller levels for many years. She remembers running for school government in middle school and high school.

“If you want to know what happens in your city, you’ve got to get involved,” said Sanchez Tuesday night as she handed out candidacy flyers outside of City Hall. “I feel passionate about my city.”

Beatriz Barajas was elected City Clerk, as early results predicted. She beat out Carmelo Calderon, a youth minister and her only contender.

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