Arcata is poised to make truly deep and substantial change, and emerge a better, more resilient town. With closed storefronts and deep cuts in city staff, the post-COVID recovery phase offers an opportunity to, well, build back better. And to put into practice some of the long-held progressive dreams that pre-pandemic status quos previously rendered undoable.
Through our adaptations to the coronavirus, we now know that we can make serious change. Shaping the next status quo is best undertaken by renewed leadership on the City Council, who can put fresh eyes on the old ways, and bring in bold new approaches and implementations.
With 10 smart, motivated City Council candidates, Arcata could almost pick any three and feel fairly confident of decent leadership. And yet you have to choose.
After following the City Council lo these many years, the members who did best were the ones who really did the work, were accessible and communicative, who weren’t tied to any brittle ideological agenda, and of course who held good values and principles, and who loved Arcata.
Based on their forum appearances, news coverage, the Union’s questionnaire, what history they may have, conversations with community members and personal interactions, and while your results may vary, we see three standouts.
Stacy Atkins-Salazar, Sarah Scheafer and Camilla Zapata are our choices for Arcata City Council. Atkins-Salazar and Schaefer’s teaching experience will serve them well in terms of kitten-herding, stamina and precision. Like them, Zapata offers measured insights on a range of issues, has solid goals and the energy to pursue them. All are free of old baggage and limitations.
With those three on the job, we expect the basics to be covered, and more: fairness, regular order, stable and well-scrutinized budgets, a well-managed recovery, open communication, stable relations with HSU, a positive business environment, evidence-based descisionmaking, law enforcement reinvention, a reinvigorated push for equity and finally, tangible recognition of, and representation by, the Wiyot People.
That all three are women is exciting serendipity. A women-majority council plus the largely female city administration puts Arcata’s rebirth largely in the hands of she-power, and we’re unabashedly all for it.
The McKinleyville Community Services District race boasts another three candidates who well know their community and hold the promise of conscientious public service.
Greg Orsini and Scott Binder have demonstrated their commitment to McKinleyville in word and deed over the last several years, while Joellen Clark-Peterson was extremely effective as director of the Arcata Chamber of Commerce.
In the Northern Humboldt Union High School District race, the two clear choices are Aristea Saulsbury and Cedric Aaron, Jr. We not only trust their faces, but their character, intellect, thoughtfulness, principles and commitment to the students and community.
Measure A, the Open Space tax, will leverage Arcata’s natural assets to vast economic, environmental and recreational advantage. The timely investment will give us new parks, trails and protected land and set Arcata up for the decades ahead. It’s similar to how during tough times, smart companies invest in R&D to position themselves to prosper in the recovery to come.
Measure F, the fire tax, is a test of whether we still live in a rational society able to care for its basic needs. Opposition is largely based on the harsh gamble that the inevitable death and destruction from slow-arriving, undertrained, skeletal fire crews using old equipment will happen to someone else.
As they watch fire spreading through their home, or a family member unable to breathe during that five-minute window before catastrophic, irreversible brain injury occurs, would anyone in that situation still be chanting, "No new taxes?"
To be prudent and responsible with your family’s safety and that of your neighbors, vote yes on Measure F to reopen stations and restore the Arcata Fire Department to effective staffing levels.