Palm Springs Council member Lisa Middleton enters Senate District 19 race

Lisa Middleton Senate District 19 Candidates

In what could be a historic election, Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton has entered the California Senate District 19 race, a little less than a year before the primary election. Photo: Screengrab

In what could be a historic election, Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton has entered the California Senate District 19 race, a little less than a year before the primary election. 

“I’m running to make a difference in Sacramento and be an effective voice for the 19th District by fighting for pragmatic, common-sense solutions that will improve the lives of all Californians,” Lisa Middleton said in a statement last week. “I’m not running to represent the blue team or the red team — I’m running to represent the people (of) Riverside and San Bernardino counties.”

Middleton, a Democrat, was first elected to the Palm Springs City Council in 2017 and made history as the first transgender person elected to a non-judicial office in California. Later, she became California’s first transgender mayor after rotating into the position.

If she wins, the Senate District 19 race, Middleton would make history again as the state’s first legislator who identifies as transgender.

Together since 2000, Middleton and her wife Cheryl married in 2013, shortly after they moved to Palm Springs.

California’s upcoming primary election is set for March 5, 2024.

Middleton ran for a state Senate seat last year, but she dropped out after the state’s mapping process changed the district’s boundaries.

At the time, Middleton said she intended to run in 2024.

The redrawn state Senate District 19 maps, adopted in late 2021 and will go into effect in 2024, cut the Coachella Valley area into two parts.

Most cities — Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells — are in the new Senate District 19.

Senate District 19 also includes several cities in San Bernardino County, such as Yucaipa, Barstow, and Yucca Valley.

It’s unclear who else might run for the state Senate District 19 seat next year.

Meanwhile, Indio and Coachella have been drawn into the new Senate District 18, which covers eastern Riverside County, Imperial County, a sliver of eastern San Bernardino County and the entire southern boundary of San Diego County.

Middleton, in her statement, said it’s time for communities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties “to receive our fair share of California’s budget.”

“Our region is one of the fastest growing regions of the country,” Middleton said. “To win the 21st century, we need a local and regional infrastructure built for the 21st century. We cannot wait to address climate change. It is past time we ensure opportunity for all does in fact include everyone.”

Middleton, who graduated from UCLA and received her masters degree in public administration from USC, worked as an auditor and senior vice president of internal affairs for the State Compensation Insurance Fund of California before being elected to the Palm Springs City Council in 2017.

Middleton was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to serve on the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s Governing Board of Administrators in April 2019.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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