Brinton Quits, Making Three Council Seats Available In November

Susan & Shane

Shane and Susan Brinton. Facebook photo

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – Two – probably three – of the five seats on the Arcata City Council will be available to candidate aspirants this fall. Incumbent Mayor Mark Wheetley intends to run again, but Councilmember Alex Stillman will not.

Terms of Councilmembers Shane Brinton, Susan Ornelas and Michael Winkler nominally run through 2016, but Brinton’s resignation last week now means that voters might be able to install a new council majority. The council will decide the issue at its July 2 meeting so as to meet noticing requirements for the November election rather than delay an election for the seat until March of next year.

Brinton has been caring for his mother, Susan, who is gravely ill. “It’s the best decision I can make for my family and my mother,” he said. Brinton thanked his fellow councilmembers, city staff and the public for their assistance and cooperation during his time on the council.

Any Arcata resident 18 or older, who is registered to vote in Arcata and who lives at the address where they are registered is eligible to run for, and serve on the council.

On Monday, July 14 at 9 a.m., anyone equipped with these attributes and some notion of public service may saunter in to the City Manager’s Office at City Hall and pick up a candidacy packet. They must then navigate a daunting gauntlet of paperwork, disclosures and signature-gathering in order to get their names on the ballot.

While the council aspirants’ bureaucratic requirements may be formidable, they can be and are routinely overcome by those with sufficient will to pursue the process and serve.

They weren’t in 2012 though. That year, the three would-be challengers failed to obtain the required 20 valid signatures on their nominating petitions.

The checklist. Click to enlarge.

The checklist. Click to enlarge.

Problems included signatures from non-Arcata residents, signatures from people who live at an address different from their voter registration, signatures from non-voters, signatures that didn’t match the ones on record and looked forged, and some with flat-out bogus addresses.

At least one of the 2012 candidates waited until the very last minute before the deadline to gather signatures, and was importuning City Hall employees and even a news reporter to sign the petition.

The three incumbents – Brinton, Ornelas and Winkler – did manage to meet the requirement. As a result, only the incumbents were on the ballot.

Besides the incumbent Wheetley, two candidates are already known to be running (see story, right). Their paperwork hurdle is formidable, but no harder than the issues that would await them on the council.

Along with the citizenship, residency and registration requirements, there are disclosures to be made and some homework to do.

Fortunately, the city makes it relatively easy by providing the forms and including a handy checklist. It even waives the $25 fee that it could legally charge.

While the deadline for filing is Friday, Aug. 8 at 5 p.m., that could change if no incumbents file for re-election. Should Wheetley change his mind about running again, the deadline will be extended five calendar days to Wednesday, Aug. 13.

Unfortunately, candidates may have to wait until Monday, Aug. 11 to find out whether or not an incumbent didn’t file, wasting the two wekend days they might have used to gather signatures and complete the other paperwork.

Another more helpful wrinkle is that a candidate does get one do-over on a faulty nominating petition. If, like the 2012 candidates, their signatures are disqualified, they can try again before the Aug. 8 deadline.

“That’s why it’s so improtant to do, and get back to me early,” said Deputy City Clerk Bridget Dory. She will be able to notify potential candidates fairly quickly as to whether or not their petitions are sufficient.

On receiving a petition, Dory takes it to the County Elections Division the same day or the next day, where the signatures are immediately compared with county records. “I stand there while they count the signatures, so we know right away,” she said.

One thing the city can’t make easier for a candidate is the steep fee for having a candidate statement published in the official ballot guide. That will require an initial $921 deposit, which is why not all candidates go through with one.

But that figure is based on the worst-case scenario – that just one candidate has a statement published. Usually there is more than one, and once all the statements are collected, costs are divided equally among the filers and any balance is refunded. the costs usually come in at between $200 and $300, but there’s no guarantee of that.



(subject to updates)

ϖ Nomination Paper
Nomination Paper 

Ballot Designation 


ϖ Letter to Candidates
Candidate’s Worksheet

Check-off List

ϖ Candidate’s Statement Form

Candidate’s Statement Guidelines

Word Count Standards

Sample of Candidate 

Statement Format

ϖ Code of Fair Campaign Practices

ϖ Candidate’s Quick 

Reference Election Calendar

Membership on the Arcata City Council

ϖ Campaign Sign Rules 

in the City of Arcata

Excerpts from California 

Government Code Relative to Mass Mailing

FPPC Political Advertising Disclaimers

ϖ 2013/2014 Statement 

of Economic Interests, 

Form 700

Top Ten Form 700 Questions

Arcata Municipal Code, Title II, Chapter 8 – Conflict of Interest Code

ϖ Arcata Municipal Code, Title II, Chapter 10 – 

Contribution Limitations

FPPC Committee Treasurers – Every Recipient Committee Must Have a Treasurer

FPPC Candidates and 

Campaign Committees FAQs  

Campaign Disclosure Filing Deadlines

ϖ Fair Political Practices Commssion Forms

Form 501 - Candidate 

Intention Statement

Form 410 – Statement of Organization, Recipient Committee, Statement of Organization (Form 410) Fact Sheet, Identify Treasurers, Identify Principal Officers, Secretary of State – Rejection of Statements of Organization, Frequently Asked Questions

Form 460 – Recipient Committee Campaign Statement

Form 465 – Supplemental Independent Expenditure Report

Form 470 – Officeholder and Candidate Campaign Statement – Short Form and Form 470 Supplement

Form 496 – Independent Expenditure Report, Instructions: Local Filers

Form 497 – Contribution Report for Local Filers

Candidate Controlled Committees – New Requirements for Reporting Expenditures for Gifts, Meals and Travel

ϖ Can I Vote?Overview of Conflict Laws

Success in Public Service: What You Need to Know Before You Are Appointed or Elected

ϖ For more information

City Manager’s Office, 

(707) 822-5953 



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