Union Editorial: A worthy leader must carry on

Every day, about 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — one person every 52 minutes and more than 10,000 per year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Arcata Mayor Brett Watson suffered a serious lapse in judgment, and is fortunate not to have harmed anyone other than himself and his political career during his recent DUI incident. 

Brett’s course is now clear – the responsible things to do are to own the error, act to understand why it happened, ensure it doesn’t happen again and, using his position as a community leader, make it a teachable moment.

He should also carry on as Arcata’s mayor, with well-earned pride and dignity.

Some online commenters were quick to rule out Watson’s continued service on the council in terms they’d never use were they in the same room with him, and, predictably, added the unfortunate incident to their dour political feelings about Arcata. 

Another NHTSA stat: roughly 1.5 million people are arrested in a given year for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs – that’s one out of every 121 licensed drivers. 

Should all these people be stripped of their responsibilities, their accomplishments, their respect and live as social lepers? Or ought they do the right things to recover, and continue to serve society where they can?

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Visualize it. Or the second-worst? The third? Everyone has stuff. Everyone.

We’re guessing that more than a few of us – including those brave Internet know-it-alls –have piloted vehicles home buzzed or worse after enjoying the many mixers, parties, shows  and other social events of our land. 

Watson isn’t the first Arcata councilmember to earn a DUI, or the second. His predecessors continued in office, and went on to serve the town well, as must he. 

As egregious as the offense was, it wasn’t predatory or exploitative, such as the assaults that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was found to have committed. It was, we came to learn, a grief-driven, human failing.   

We need leaders who are human, humble, accessible and who do council business based on what they believe is best for the people of Arcata. That’s always been Brett Watson’s modus operandi, and Arcata needs him to pull through and carry on. 

Brett Watson for City Council.  


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