Camilla Zapata: The 2020 Mad River Union Arcata City Council Candidate Questionnaire

Mad River Union

Welcome to the exhaustive, and probably exhausting, 2020 Mad River Union Arcata City Council Candidate Questionnaire, starring Stacy Atkins-Salazar, Emily Grace Goldstein, Nicholas Matthews, Oryan Peterson-Jones, Paul Pitino, Sarah Schaefer, Kimberley White, Michael Winkler, Collin Yeo and Camilla Zapata.

Every election cycle we find out things we should have asked the previous batch of candidates, and update the questionnaire with those questions plus whatever new issues have cropped up.

In submitting the questions to the candidates, we stipulated the following:

• All questions are optional. Answer or ignore any you like.

• Please number your responses so we’re clear which question you’re answering. Feel free to combine them, that is, apply one answer to more than one question.

• Try and be as succinct as you can. With 10 candidates, there is going to be a lot of pressure on our pages.

• But feel free to direct readers to other, or online resources for more expansive responses via links.

• Answers won’t be edited in any way other than to take out double spaces. We won’t alter any wording, nor correct spelling, punctuation or usage.

Some candidates followed the guidelines more faithfully than others. Experience over the years has shown some correlation between a candidate’s expression and their performance in other areas, and that’s why we don’t make any corrections. What you see is what we got.

At the top of each page are the questions we posed to the candidates, with their responses below. The way to use this thing is to look at the numbered questions, then find the numbered answer. This may require some flipping back and forth between pages, but given the widely varying length of the candidates’ responses, there was no practical way to make sure the questions and their answers were always on the same page.  

Just for fun and to change things up a bit, we went with reverse alphabetical order in listing the candidates’ answers. 

Oh, and sorry about the 9-point type. With 10 candidates, multitudinous times call for desperate measures. 

A sincere thank you to all of the candidates for putting up with our inquisitions, deadlines and for giving the voters of Arcata 10 worthy choices for the three open seats on the five-member City Council.

The questions

1. Why are you running for Arcata City Council? (Give your elevator pitch.)

2. How much time can you devote on a weekly basis to council business?

3. Are you comfortable with reading and assimilating lengthy or technical staff reports and contracts?

4. What are your areas of special focus and/or expertise, and what initiatives might you undertake?

5. Which, if any, outside organizations would you like to serve as council liaison to?

6. To what extent should Arcata involve itself in national and international issues, or stick to local business?

7. Are there any recent City Council actions or outcomes you’d have handled differently?

8. Have you reviewed the City Council Protocol Manual? If so, do you have any thoughts on it? Does it seem complete? 

9. What do you think of the City Council’s goals?

What do you think of:

10. The city’s plans for upgrading its wastewater treatment system

11. The city’s efforts to achieve equity

12. The city’s housing policies

13. The city’s sustainable forestry policies

14. The National Police Foundation and Humboldt County Grand Jury found grave systemic shortcomings in the Arcata Police Department’s investigation of the killing of Humbodt State Student David Josiah Lawson. For months, APD assured the City Council and the public that it was doing everything it could – and yet it turns out, it wasn’t. To what extent is the Arcata City Council responsible for this failure, in terms of its oversight responsibilities?

15. Should Arcata defund or otherwise restructure its police department and law enforcement paradigm?

16. What are your thoughts on Black Lives Matter?

What do you think about these ballot measures:

17. Measure A, the Open Space tax?

18. Measure B, the low-income housing tax?

19. Measure F, the Arcata Fire property tax?

20. Are there any state propositions you feel strongly about?

21. What’s your magic wand top three changes you’d make to Arcata?

22. If while serving as a councilmember, you make a factual misstatement, will you correct it?

23. Are you committed to serving out your entire term, and is there any reason that you can’t? 

24. Do you have any conflicts of interest that will prevent you from participating in council business? (These could include business relationships with individuals and companies who have matters on which you’d have to rule, such as major developments.)

25. Has Arcata’s response to the coronavirus pandemic been adequate?

26. Is Arcata adequately preparing for climate change?

27. Which Arcata services would you improve or reduce?

28. Do you agree with Arcata’s long-term efforts to de-emphasize private vehicular travel in favor of alternative transportation? 

29. What are your thoughts on reducing traffic on the Plaza, possibly by lane closures?

30. From time to time it is suggested that a parking facility be built downtown. Thoughts?

31. Do you support recent water and wastewater rate increases? If not, how would you fund improvements to the obsolescent wastewater treatment plant?

32. Does Valley West get its fair share of city resources?

33. Does Arcata do right by its seniors? Youth?

34. Does the Plaza Farmers’ Market need any adjustments? 

(Background: we’re talking about normal times. It’s been suggested that the market has become overly bloated with features, and might better be located elsewhere, such as at the Community Center. There is also pushback by some Plaza merchants who say the Farmers’ Market does nothing for them, or even hurts their business.)

 35. Did you support removal of the McKinley statue, and why or why not? 

36. Does Arcata’s relationship with Humboldt State need any adjustments or improvements?

37. Arcata is on a perpetual cycle of its natural areas being left trashed, then volunteers going out and cleaning them out, and then repeating that sequence ad infinitum. Can anything practical and systemic be done to break this cycle?

38. Will you handle situations where regular order is challenged any differently that recent City Council have?
(Background: Over the last 20 years, impassioned activists have at times refused to observe speaking time limits, shouted down citizens with whom they disagreed, even halted council meetings and blocked journalists from accessing Council Chamber.)

39. What is the role of science in City Council decisionmaking? For example, how will you handle it when community members’ strongly held opinions clash with science, for example on climate change, or community water fluoridation?

40. Should Arcata fluoridate its water?

41. Is Arcata properly handling regulation and management of its cannabis industry?

42. Are traditional community organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Arcata Main Street still relevant? 

43. Rather personal questions, optional of course

44. What’s your ideal Arcata day off?

45. What news sources (not including the Mad River Union) do you consider credible and how frequently do you access them?

46. List any volunteer work that you do.

47. Which of the other two City Council candidates are you voting for? (Feel free to mention any other candidates for local, regional, state or even national races you like.)

48. Pick one: Lennon or McCartney.

49. Pineapple on pizza, yea or nay?

50. Oxford commas, yea or nay?

51. What’s topping your playlist right now?

52. Any podcasts you might recommend?

53. If you aren’t elected, will you still try to serve and improve Arcata? How?

Camilla Zapata.

1. I am running with the intent to help create a community where all members have a voice and are accounted for. We have a lot to work towards with the need for an economic recovery, the evident realities of climate change occurring all around us, the need for dialogue on the glaring social inequalities that have gone unaddressed, and a deficit in housing.

2. I can devote roughly 25-30 hours a week.

3. I am very comfortable with reading and assimilating lengthy or technical staff reports and contracts. I also am not afraid to ask questions from previous councilmembers and city staff if need be.

4. I am eager to do the research on just about any topic, but I would most like to work on housing policy which would include a housing first model. I would like to focus on bolstering economic development and address removing red tape, as well as building stronger relationships with special interest groups that I have met through campaigning.

5. I would love to work with Redwood Region Economic Development Commission, Humboldt Waste Management Authority, and any of the special interest groups that took the time to send this year’s candidates questions or host forums. 

6. Arcata should involve itself to the extent that it is relevant in national and international issues. Climate change and social justice issues very much affect our area, but I also believe there is enough going on in our city to focus our energy primarily on local issues.

7. The McKinley statue vote should have been handed to people before being voted on by the council.

8. The City Council Protocol Manual appears complete to me and, from my understanding, it is a constant work in progress and gets looked at throughout each year.

9. The City Council’s goals look adequate. I believe the next three candidates will appropriately add to them with regard to all that we have collectively learned while campaigning.

10. I am in support of the city’s plans for upgrading the wastewater treatment system as it is a necessity mandated by the state to meet a different standard of compliance, not an elective choice.

11. I think the city is dedicated and sincere in their efforts to achieve equity. The collaborative community network, Equity Arcata, with the Community Development Specialist from HSU and the Racial Equity intern is a good start and I look forward to this sector of the city expanding.

13. The city’s forestry policies meet current standards for sustainable forestry. Logging is not a pretty thing, but it also helps pay for the maintenance of land the city owns and for acquiring additional land to protect for future years to come.

14. Placing blame on the council for the mishandling of the David Josiah Lawson case is up to each individual to decide to what extent the fault lies. At the end of the day, they are an oversight committee, but there are many council members that came before them that also helped shape Arcata Police Department. It’s easy to point fingers during a tragedy that was mishandled, as we all wanted justice, but I struggle to place blame on any one entity as it went through so many layers of people involved in this case and it’s the first responders that led to the outcome.

15. As for defunding the police, Arcata has already defunded the police department by 750K. I would like to reallocate these funds to other social services when this money is available again. I think the city needs to be willing to look at the police department with a new lens while also considering the needs not being met within our community. A conversation needs to be had with the public to see exactly what people want out of the city budget regarding the future of police and the addition of social services to our community.

16. In my personal experience with nonprofits, there will always be issues, however I believe in and stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. This country was built on systemic racism and it needs to be acknowledged by all in order for people to heal and move into a more equitable future.

 17-19 I strongly support Measure A, the Open Space tax, Measure B, the low-income housing tax, and Measure R, the Arcata Fire property tax.

 20. I am strongly in favor of proposition 15, Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties.

21. Solve houselessness, provide universal healthcare, and design a transportation system in Arcata so good that people couldn’t refuse it. 

22. I have no problem admitting wrongfully stating something and would be happy to redact any statement that is a factual misstatement.

23. I am committed to serving out my entire term.

24. I do not have conflict of interests. I am friends with some individuals that own businesses in the downtown area, but I have not seen any decision making affect their business in recent times.

25. I find no fault in the city’s response to the pandemic. I think the economic recovery collaborative group that was created in response to the pandemic was an intelligent response to the times.

26. To the best of my knowledge, yes, the city is adequately preparing for climate change.

27. Improve the bus system along with more bus stops. I wouldn’t reduce anything.

28. Yes, I think the whole world wants to move towards de-emphasizing private vehicular travel.

29. I am open to experimenting with solutions in reducing traffic on the Plaza and seeing how they pan out with the intent to make it more pedestrian friendly.

30. I think the times it is most necessary are during the summer months and we should utilize the campus parking and include a shuttle to downtown. There is no proposed space for a parking facility.

31. I do support them as they are a necessity.

32. In the city goals there are a lot of the many solutions needed to focus efforts on Valley West. Unfortunately, the city’s resources have been cut significantly this year and all intended projects will be slow to be implemented.

35. Yes, I supported removing McKinley because I do not believe having statues of slave owning men need to be glorified.

36. HSU and Arcata are separate jurisdictions that need to work together as HSU is one of the largest economic engines in the area. The relationship is generally good, but constant communication is key to this relationship flourishing.

39. We want to make data driven decisions as a city as it will lead to the best intended outcome for all.

43. My ideal day off starts with yoga, a walk to the farmer’s market, meeting up with friends for an afternoon spent outside and making dinner together with farmer’s market freshies.

44. The Intercept and the Guardian are my credible go-to news sources via online print. I consume NPR more frequently via radio.

45. I am a board member for Zero Waste Humboldt.

49. Definite yes to Oxford commas.

51. A podcast I listen to regularly is On Being with Krista Tippett.

52. If I am not elected, I would love to work towards serving on any of the city’s committees in the future and am committed in continuing my efforts to serve and improve Arcata through ZWH.




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