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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of Palm DesertCandidate for City Council

Photo of Kathleen Kelly

Kathleen Kelly

Businesswoman / Pastor
9,882 votes (23.45%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Assure a great quality of life for people of all economic means
  • Support the city's General Plan for fresh and inviting destinations on the Highway 111/El Paseo corridor
  • Support collaboration between new business ventures and our education hub



Profession:Businesswoman, lawyer, law professor, mediator and pastor
President, Joslyn (Senior) Center Board — Elected position (2014–current)
Commissioner, Palm Desert Planning Commission — Appointed position (2016–current)
Pastor, Episcopal Church (2005–2016)
Member, Envision Palm Desert Parks & Recreation Taskforce — Appointed position (2013–2014)
Arbitrator & Mediator, self-employed (1983–2013)
Law Professor, McGeorge School of Law (1983–2000)
Academic Dean, McGeorge School of Law (1993–2000)
Attorney, Employment Law Firm (1976–1983)


U. C. Berkeley, Boalt Hall J.D., Law (1976)
Yale University B.A. (1973)

Community Activities

Board President, Loaves & Fishes, Sacramento (2008–2010)
Board President, The Samaritan Counseling Center (2002–2004)
Co-Founder and Board Member, Sacramento Neighborhood Mediation Center (1990–1995)


My work life in many fields has been defined by resolving conflict to improve everyone's lives.  I am a collaborator who can reach across boundary lines that separate others and help to forge common ground for constructive solutions.  This work began when I represented employers in labor matters.  I sought a position teaching at McGeorge Law School to influence would-be lawyers to be problem-solvers.  When I made that shift, my former adversaries encouraged me to also become an arbitrator and mediator, because they held me in high regard for my integrity and reasoned approach.  That work continued for 30 years, and led to service addressing some major public policy disputes.  Two examples are:  1) a dispute between the sight-impaired and the mobility impaired over the nature of warning bumps at crossings, and 2) a dispute between a major provider of safety-net services (including 800 meals/day) and surrounding businesses about impacts.  Both disputes were resolved, and the resolutions continue to work.  In 2005, I graduated from seminary and became a priest in the Episcopal Church. For the last 6 years, I have continued to live in Palm Desert while commuting to serve a congregation in the downtown area of Hemet.  While there, I played a very active part in an after-school program offering homework help and other enrichment to neighborhood children.  Despite commuting over 120 miles roundtrip to work each day, I have made time to be an active part of my Palm Desert community, volunteering on the Joslyn Center Board, on the Planning Commission, and as part of the process that produced our new draft General Plan for the City.  Having now retired from my position, I have the time to put my life-skills to work full-time for my community.  I am an active part of Palm Deset Golf Ventures, LLC, which is striving to make our historic Shadow Mountain Golf Course a successfu part of South Palm Desert's future.  My Dad, Dick Kelly, served on the Palm Desert City Council for 28 years, and I saw the good he was able to accomplish by being attentive to all people's concerns and aggressively seeking new ideas for progress.  That has inspired me to run for City Council.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • The Desert Sun Newspaper Editorial Board

Organizations (3)

  • Coachella Imperial Valleys Strategies PAC
  • Desert Valleys Builders Association
  • California Desert Association of REALTORS®

Elected Officials (4)

  • Palm Desert Mayor Robert Spiegel
  • Palm Desert Councilman Sabby Jonathan
  • Aurora Wilson, COD Area 4 Trustee
  • Wendy Jonathan, DSUSD Board Member

Individuals (5)

  • Carl L. Karcher
  • Ray Rodriguez
  • Brian Harnik
  • Ron Gregory, Planning Commissioner
  • John Greenwood, Planning Commissioner

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

1) I truly believe that all people hold part of the truth. For this reason, I naturally convey the respect for all that is essential to effective regional collaboration.  Your council members MUST be good regional collaborators to achieve progress on the very key issues that do not observe city limit lines:  resource preservation, air quality, public safety, affordable and efficient transportation and good synergy between business workforce needs and educational offerings.

2) All tax dollars that are collected should be put to good use (acknowledging that a prudent reserve is one important use).  Because downturns are inevitable, in comparatively good times, we MUST attend to infrastructure needs that will assure the public amentities and resources essential to quality of life for people of all economic means.

3) Education and incentives are generally better than mandates.  City govenment should attend to the services we all need to thrive.  

Candidate Contact Info

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