Three Council Seats Open, Four Candidates Announced – July 12, 2012
Kevin L. Hoover
ARCATA – If the Third District Supervisorial race wasn’t wacky enough for you with its charges of “social engineering” and subsequent “Agenda 21” conspiracy mongering, fear not – three City Council candidates’ seats are up for grabs this fall. If precedent serves, the possibility of creating a new council majority will likely bring forth all manner of candidates with all manner of mental configurations.
Already, the three incumbents whose seats are available have announced their intention to run. At a March council meeting, political/social activist Geronimo Garcia also announced his intention to run for council along with an unspecified number of ducks.
The nomination period opens on July 16, 2012, and closes on August 10, 2012. Nomination papers can be picked up in the City Clerk’s office. Potential nominees must be registered to vote at the address at which they live, in Arcata City limits. Those interested in running for City Council may obtain more information here.
Mayor Michael Winkler said that “there are some things I’d still like to get done.” An energy wonk, he hopes to see Arcata implement community choice aggregation. He’d also like to continue the industrial development of West End Road and pursue annexation of Boyd Road. More affordable housing is another prized goal, as is an Arcata-to-Eureka trail.
Winkler is gratified for recent City accomplishments, including use of Measure G funding for road and law enforcement upgrades. He said Occupy Arcata was “handled quite well. The demonstrators got their message across, then peacefully shut down.”
Winkler laments that Arcata’s cannabis regulation scheme was thrown into chaos and confusion by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s crackdown. “We were on track to have a very good system in place,” he said. “The federal government seriously undermined it.”
“I feel like I’m on track or have accomplished most of the things I promised four years ago,” Winkler said. This is, in part, because of the “very respectful atmosphere” the current council has established.
Winkler called for “strong candidates to step forward and have a lively debate.”
Vice Mayor Shane Brinton said the council has made “a lot of progress working together to meet the goals I ran on and which the people in the community share.” But, he said, “there are still a lot of things in progress” which he’d like to consummate. “You get attached to projects and want to see them through.”
These include community choice aggregation, a public restroom, an excessive energy use tax, smoking ordinance updates, allowing residential beekeeping, the Arcata Ridge Trail and a plastic bag ban.
He’s happy to see the reconstruction of Samoa Boulevard and H Street, and the creation of the Plaza Point affordable senior housing complex.
Brinton said he has become seasoned in office, is a “much better team player” with a better grasp of the persistence required to effect change. He’s also having a good time. “I just like serving the community,” he said. “Answering calls and helping people.”
On a more philosophical level, he added, he appreciates “pushing forward progressive values” of sustainability, social justice, economic development and the environment.
City Councilmember Susan Ornelas also wants to continue in office to see the projects who’s been working on come to pass. “I’m not quite done,” she said “I would like to see that public bathroom built.” Another big project is helping the Creamery District come into its own. “I really enjoy that,” she said.
She said the restoration of Chevret-Vaissade Park was “a disaster that turned out well. People really rise to the occasion.”
By campaigning, and during her service in office, she has learned that Arcatans are complex, sensitive beings, and appreciates their diversity. She’s met burly young men who, before the park rangers were re-established, expressed fear of being in the forest. Then she encountered a little old lady who fearlessly ventured into the woods. “You just don’t know by looking at people,” Ornelas said.
“I’m not a calculated, formulaic person,” she said. “I’m thoughtful and I listen.”
Homeless and bicycle transportation advocate Geronimo Garcia previously ran for council in 2008 and 2010, never gaining more than six percent of the vote. Garcia was active with the Occupy Arcata as well as Tom Vanciel’s Occupy Arcata Heights foreclosure-resistance live-in on K Street.
At the July 12 City Council meeting, Garcia announced formation of the Bicycle Garden Party (BGP), for which he will be a City Council candidate.
Garcia said the BGP’s issues are establishment of public restrooms, soup kitchens and campgrounds for homeless people.
The party aspires to “occupying space on the ballot” and City Hall.