Council to decide how to fill vacancy next Thursday, June 24

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – The City Council will decide how to fill the council position being vacated by Mayor Sofia Perieria at a special meeting next Thursday, June 24.

Pereira has resigned her elected position and will leave the Arcata City Council, effective Friday, June 25. She has accepted an appointment to become Humboldt County’s new public health director.

Sofia Pereira

The departure leaves the council an even-numbered body, unless and until it either appoints a new councilmember or holds a special election, which the council has 60 days to do.

Even-numbered councils are vulnerable to tied votes, which can – and has  – paralyzed decisionmaking. 

Reelected in 2018, Pereira is in the second half of her term. Any appointment would serve out the remainder of that term. The next election takes place this November. 

The city has experience with sitting councilmembers quitting before their term is up. Recent resignations have included those of Councilmembers Susan Ornelas and Mark Wheetley. 

According to City Manager Karen Diemer, the cost of a special election is typically around $10,000 since there are often several local and state offices sharing both a ballot and the associated expense. According to Diemer, the only other office possibly on that ballot is the Northern Humboldt Park and Rec District board to potentially share costs with the City of Arcata.

“The one time we went it alone on a special election (Mark Wheetley’s first term) it cost $35,000,”  she said.

A 2018 Union candidate questionnaire asked, “If elected, are you committed to completing your four-year term of office?” 

Replied Pereira, “Yes.”

Asked about that, Pereira said “Actually your question is a fair one. Being on the city council and serving as the public health director are both demanding jobs, and I don’t think it would be of service to the community to attempt both simultaneously. I sure could not have foreseen this opportunity back in 2018, let alone a global pandemic! While it’s difficult to leave the council, I’m grateful that I can continue serving the community in this new role.”

For more information on the Arcata City Council and to review the Council’s upcoming meeting agendas, please visit


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