There are four men running as candidates for Cathedral City’s District Four council-seat, but one of the candidates is being talked about more than the rest over a statement he made about the homeless population in a candidate forum.
Ernest Gutierrez is a business owner and realtor in Cathedral City. This is the first year he gets involved in politics and he is quickly learning his words can have an impact and people who support and oppose him are listening.
Gutierrez said, “I see that on social media and it is just a joke, none of these people have actually talked to me, shaken my hand, they are just speaking and making things up.”
He said a part of the statement during a Cathedral City Council Candidate forum was taken out of context.
Part of statement at the forum, said, “Currently our government’s social benefits provided to homeless people will never stop to allow them to hit rock bottom.”
Many people took to social media to criticize the statements from the candidate, including Lynne O’Neill, Co-Founder of the East West Alliance. O’Neill said she has attended all of the Cathedral City candidate forums.
“There was a gasp in the audience,” O’Neill said. “In his opinion the government shared in the responsibility for the homeless because of having programs that would assist this disadvantaged population.”
O’Neill said she approached Gutierrez after the forum to share her disapproval over what he said.
But Gutierrez said this one soundbite does not express his views fully, and he explained.
“Have personal friends that are homeless and I have tried to help them and they told me, if they have not hit rock bottom they’re happy where they are at,” Gutierrez said. “And they want to be free they don’t want to go by any rules and whenever they need help it will be up to them and not up to society.”
Gutierrez said a part of his solution to solve homelessness is to identify the population by its needs, such as offering financial assistance to people who are homeless for lack of money, as well as supporting local charities who work with the homeless.