Karmolette O’Gilvie, born and raised in Houston, Texas, has lived in 29 palms for 27 years. She and her husband of 38 years moved to 29 as part of his military career.
Karmolette's first experience with desert was in California. She and her husband were stationed in Camp Pendleton and discovered 29 Palms by riding up to visit other military families. They immediately noticed the night sky, the peacefulness and low crime. Over the years, Karmolette has witnessed many military folks come here to the desert with great uncertainty about remaining, then sees them leaving for the next assignments, tearful and sad to be leaving a place that crept into their souls.
After three years stationed in Corpus Christi TX, she and her husband had an opportunity to choose 29 Palms or return to Camp Pendleton – they chose 29 Palms and have been here ever since. Karmolette’s children still live nearby – one in 29 Palms, the other in Indio.
In this episode, we talk about the changes and differences in the base and the city of 29Palms over the 27 years Karmolette has lived here, as well as the changes in local government including the recent institution of district elections.
Karmolette has a nursing degree and a PhD in Biblical Studies. The decision to go into nursing came from Karmolette witnessing her mother’s health struggles, often hospitalized due to issues with Type 1 diabetes. Karmolette admired the health professionals and at a young age, made up her mind to become a nurse, enabling her to take care of her mother. Karmolette's nursing career started in the delivery room and now she shepherds patients and families through the process of hospice.
Karmolette credits her parents with her civic-mindedness. She says they encouraged her and her siblings to run for officer or leadership roles. At 16, Karmolette became a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and held a position representing her class to a state level nursing organization. She identifies herself as a change agent and citizen who cares about her city.
Karmolette walks us through how she ‘applied’ to get on the 29 Palms City Council ballot, the campaigning and finally, the slightly nerve-wracking process of the counting of the votes, leading to her eventual win of her district. Karmolette went to bed on election night feeling she’d done her best, and accepted, what she thought was her loss, until she received a phone call the next morning, advising her the mail-in ballots had not yet been counted. There were days the votes separating her from the opposing candidate were actually four votes or two votes. She points to her own election experience to demonstrate that every vote really does count.
Now part of the City Council, Karmolette talks about the learning curve of getting up to speed with the the scope of the council and past history – and she feels she has grown in ways she could have never expected.
Last, we also talk about the first Juneteenth Celebration held in 29 Palms earlier this year and the plans Karmolette sees for future events and importance of passing the history to our youth.