Christy Holstege Photo courtesy of Holstege

Editor’s note: On Nov. 8, the state’s general election will be held. Voters will have to choose an Assembly member for District 47, which includes Idyllwild, Pine Cove and north to Banning and a small sliver of San Bernardino County and many of the desert cities. As a result of redistricting after the 2020 Census, there is no incumbent in this race. Much of the area was represented by Assemblyman Chad Myers. The two candidates for AD 47 are Democrat Christy Holstege and Republican Greg Wallis. The Town Crier interviewed each candidate and both stories appear in this edition of the paper.
Christy Holstege, 36, a member of the Palm Springs City Council and former mayor, announced her intention to seek a California Assembly seat in July 2021. In December, after the state Redistricting Committee finished redrawing the 80 Assembly seats for the 2022 election, she then officially announced her candidacy for the AD 47 seat.
In the June primary, Holstege finished first among four candidates. She received slightly more than 50% of the votes cast for this race. Her general election opponent, Greg Wallis, a Republican, was second with 31.2% of the vote. Holstege, along with Jamie Swain, a second Democrat, collected nearly 57.8% of the total vote.
Holstege is a 36-year-old mother of a nearly 2-year-old son, a fourth generation Palm Springs resident, she said proudly. She is the first woman to serve as mayor in the history of Palm Springs and is also the first openly bisexual mayor in the country.
When asked why a successful attorney and elected local official with a family would seek to spend so much time in Sacramento, Holstege replied that her life is one of serving — her child, husband, the unfortunate and the community.
“Raising my family, I’m concerned about the district. I see significant challenges — homelessness, housing, the climate,” she answered. “I will roll up my sleeves and find the hard solutions. I’m committed to this because I live in this district and want to see us all thrive.”
And this commitment to help began at a young age. “Growing up in public schools, I saw the drama of violence against girls. Whether it was harassment or assault, I fought for equality and there’s a long way to go.
“Everyone deserves equal rights and I’ve committed my career,” she said earnestly. As an attorney, she deals with tenant evictions, unpaid wages, domestic violence, and many other problems which the poor and weak incur.
Her first job in the Coachella Valley was with Shelter in the Storm, a domestic violence shelter, where she started a legal aid clinic.
During the COVID pandemic, she gained city council approval for hero pay for essential workers, $1 million in small business relief, and the use of the Palm Springs Convention Center as a COVID-19 testing site.
While she believes COVID is moving from crisis to endemic phase, she still sees its influence. “Especially with long-haul COVID. People can’t get vaccinated, there are social impacts, student mental health issues linger and many haven’t recovered from the affordability challenge the pandemic imposed,” Holstege explained.
Housing — affordability — and homelessness are issues she will continue to address if elected. “These are key campaign issues. I’ve been dealing with economic issues and developers for years on the city council. I have experience delivering local jobs,” she commented. “It’s the California dream to live and work and enjoy your life.”
Holstege will seek to improve the environment and modify climate change, if elected. She will encourage greater development of wind and solar energy.
As a Palm Springs resident, she is aware of the danger of wildfires on the Hill. “We’re seeing increasing temperatures in Idyllwild,” she said. “It used to be a cool place to live; now there is also extreme snow and rain weather which affect the highways getting to Idyllwild.”
Whether it’s Idyllwild or the desert communities, she believes AD 47 is on the front line of the climate crisis and she wants to find responses that will be resilient.
Her endorsements include the Sierra Club, the California Environmental Justice Alliance and the California Professional Firefighters.
Short-term rentals is another Hill issue that Holstege has had to address in her city council capacity.
“I’ve worked on the proliferation of vacation rentals for more than five years in Palm Springs. In 2017, we passed comprehensive vacation rental regulations,” she related. “There are limits to permits, zero tolerance — three strikes and out,” she related.
“We’ve done a lot of work at the local level and I can bring this experience to the state level,” she promised.
Despite winning the primary and outpolling the number of registered Democrats in the district, Holstege is well aware that the general election is still quite competitive.
The state Republican Party has already contributed more than $500,000 to Wallis’ campaign, which indicates it has not conceded the election to Holstege.
On Sept. 24, she had a cash balance of nearly $310,000 in her campaign coffers. Since Aug. 1, she has received more than $910,000 in contributions, nearly $380,000 from the state Democratic Party and another $175,000 from county Democratic Party organizations. From individuals or smaller organizations, she has nine contributions greater than $8,500 and 42 of $4,900.
“In the Assembly, there are strong champions for urban areas. I really intended to do that for the mountains and desert communities,” Holstege said.