In Eureka we witness the embarrassing spectacle of people running unopposed for elected office, defeating the whole concept of democracy. Think about it, Eureka could elect a Trump like candidate without a vote. The last 3 cycles has had a candidate who ran unopposed. Why is this happening? We would say it goes back to 2010 when the developers targeted local races to reassert their control of local elected bodies. A popular incumbent and to popular challengers in Eureka were defeated by huge spending against them and a cynical pay for play campaign called measure N.
There is a clear remedy for this mess, it’s called Measure P or as we like to call it “True Ward – True Voice” here are a couple of great letters on the topic:
Eureka’s Measure P is not a Trojan horse
It makes perfect sense that former Eureka council members defend Eureka’s uniquely odd election system. (“Ward system would do Eureka ill”, Times-Standard, Aug. 7, Page A5).
It has worked for them. Why change?
Mr. Thomas Hannah correctly points out two obvious exceptions, council members Larry Glass and Linda Atkins, who have questioned the system. “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”, he concludes (Virgil’s “Aeneid,” circa A.D. 49). Mr. Hannah’s quote is not quite accurate. The Trojan priest Laocoon actually said “I fear Greeks — even when they bear gifts.” He was saying to be afraid of outsiders because they are outsiders, and he was right. The Greeks won and Laocoon was executed.
Happily for our analogous Laocoon, former Councilman Hannah, Eureka is not ancient Troy. Atkins and Glass are neither Greeks nor outsiders. Measure P is not a Trojan horse.
Measure P is a ballot item in the city of Eureka this November. The City Council put it there at the suggestion of the city attorney. Council members will be elected by the voting public of their ward (district) of residence if Measure P passes. We already elect county, state and federal legislators this way.
Here is a chance to send Eureka into the twenty-first century, avoid potential litigation and empower some new interest in local government. I appreciate Mr. Hannah and wish him well. Yes on P.
Gregory Conners, Loleta
True Ward takes big money out of elections
No surprise that Tom Hannah opposes the True Ward election system (“Ward system would do Eureka ill”, Times-Standard, Aug. 7, Page A5). He was a chief architect of the present all at-large council and a foremost spokesman for the economic and social elite who want to run Eureka.
His opinion is incompatible with 21st century representative government. True Ward means that only voters of a ward decide who will represent them. With the present all at-large system, the economic, ethnic and cultural interests of a neighborhood can be overridden by voters from elsewhere. It has happened. A candidate may technically live in a ward but not represent it well.
True Ward would take big money out of council elections.
Candidates running in a single ward only need enough money to print flyers and distribute them door-to-door in a now walkable district. TV and newspaper ads, slick mailers, and massive lawnsign distribution would be unnecessary. So people of any economic means could seek office, and need not be beholden to big money special interests seeking to buy voices on the council.
True Ward is also fiscally prudent. California cities retaining all at-large systems have been sued for discrimination against minorities, costing cities lots of money. Eureka’s minority population is growing. Inevitable suits waste our tax money defending an undemocratic system.
True Ward, on the ballot this November, gives neighborhoods a true voice.
Pam Service, Eureka