Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
NOHUM – In less than 12 weeks, local voters will make Northern Humboldt County great once again by electing local government representatives. City Councils in Arcata, Blue Lake and Trinidad have seats opening up, and fortunately, citizen-candidates have stepped up to offer the voters choices about filling them.
Three seats are open on the Arcata City Council. Incumbent Councilmembers Susan Ornelas, Paul Pitino and Michael Winkler are completing their four-year terms, and all want another one. The three have successfully filed nomination papers, and will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.
So will two new candidates, Daniel P. Murphy and Valerie Rose-Campbell.
Murphy, who lists his occupation as chef/father, said he aims to boost the economy while retaining local values. “I would like to see this place boom but keep its culture,” he said. “My goal is to bring small businesses here but keep small entrepreneurs.”
Murphy said he is still immersing himself in the issues, but his campaign will emphasize low taxes, fiscal responsibility, economic development, homeless relief and law enforcement.
“I want to try and create a stable budget, with not too much taxes on property owners,” Murphy said, acknowledging the direction the council has established, “and basically keep the goals of my predecessors alive.”
Some of Murphy’s goals are regional. I’d like to keep the harbor and train tracks,” he said, adding, “I would try to bring more law enforcement resources to rural areas.”
“To make a better tomorrow today,” Murphy summarized. “I think I could do a great job.”
Valerie Rose-Campbell is a playgroup facilitator for the City of Arcata. She tried to run for council in 2012, but didn’t have enough valid signatures on her nomination papers.
Rose-Campbell said she was re-inspired to try again after “feeling the Bern”; that is, being energized by former presidential aspirant Senator Bernie Sanders’ candidacy. Her council goals are still taking shape.
“At this point I don’t have ready-made solutions,” Rose-Campbell said. “I just know that Arcata needs to do some soul searching. A real look at some of our bigger community issues without forgetting about expanding on what does work.”
“I decided to run for City Council because our year-round community of working families is underrepresented,” Rose-Campbell continued. “The idea of strong communities with compassion and support was my stand-out theme to the primary election. I want to keep that momentum going, especially in my community where I raise my kids. Ultimately, my issues are the communities’ issues and I’d like to know more about what they are from many different perspectives.”
Having served since 20o8, Councilmember Susan Ornelas wishes to build on the foundation she has established. “I am running for City Council again as I enjoy collaborating with others to keep Arcata beautiful, healthy and fiscally sound,” she said.
Ornelas listed her principal partners in forwarding her agenda. “I work with people in the community, Humboldt State University, Chamber of Commerce, Main Street and agencies like Redwood Coast Energy Authority to make positive environmental and social change in our region.”
Mayor Paul Pitino has served on the council in two separate terms, from 2004 to 2008 and from 2014 to the present. He wants another four years to consummate ongoing projects. “There’s stuff I haven’t finished, and I’d like to see it through,” he said. “I’m committed to projects, and I just can’t walk away from them – it’s all good stuff.”
Pitino maintains an avid interest in transportation and infrastructure-related matters, and will keep pushing for progress in those areas. “The wastewater treatment plant needs work,” he noted.
Councilmember Michael Winkler has served on the council since 2008. He too is seeking leadership continuity. “There are some things I still want to accomplish, like community choice aggregation (CCA),” he said, referring to the movement to create local, citizen-owned energy utilities. “It’s something I’ve worked on for many years, and I feel I could play an important, guiding role.”
Winkler serves on Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s CCA technical advisory committee. “I have a very strong commitment to environmental sustainability,” he said.
Alternative transportation and implementation of Arcata’s Medical Marijuana Innovation Zone are other areas Winkler will focus on.
No other potential candidates submitted nomination papers, which must bear at least 20 valid signatures of Arcata voters. The candidates may submit petitions signed by up to 30 supporters; these are checked by the Humboldt County Elections Division to verify that the signatories are registered voters who live in Arcata, that their listed addresses jibe with those on voter registration rolls, and that the signatures match.
Murphy submitted 27 signatures, of which 20 were valid. Rose-Campbell first submitted 27 signatures, but as of Thursday, just 18 were valid. She then submitted five more, which City Manager Karen Diemer drove down to the Elections Division for checking late Friday afternoon, just before the 5 p.m. deadline. Of those, four were valid, bringing Rose-Campbell’s total to 22, well over the 20-signature minimum. All 30 of Ornelas’s 30 submitted signatures were valid. Pitino gained 25 valid signatures from the 30 he submitted. Winkler netted 29 verified signatures from the 30 he submitted.
Blue Lake is having a candidate crisis. The peaceable hamlet has three seats on its five-person City Council open, with incumbent Councilmembers Michele McCall-Wallace and Stephen Kullman not seeking another term. Councilmember Adelene Jones filed nomination papers, but as of Friday, she is the sole candidate running for the three open seats. That forces an extension of the nomination papers until today, Aug. 17 at 4 p.m.
“We are reaching out to anyone who is a registered voter in the City of Blue Lake,” said City Clerk April Sousa. “Anyone passionate about the city who wants to move forward in a positive way.”
If two more council aspirants step forward by today at 4 p.m., the current council could appoint the three and forego the election process. If Jones is the sole candidate, the city will hope for two more eligible write-in candidates to step up.
Two seats are open on the Trinidad City Council, but of the two incumbents whose terms expire this year, just one, Councilmember Jack West, is running again. Councilmember Julie Fulkerson will not.
Along with West, one other candidate has qualified for the November ballot. He is Steve Ladwig, Humboldt State director of admissions.