Elections in Eureka are seriously broken; let’s fix it!


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.

Measure N

$10,000 Pay for play check from Cherie Arkley


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


13 thoughts on “Elections in Eureka are seriously broken; let’s fix it!

  1. Why should Greg Conners care? He lives in Loleta.


  2. Just a couple elections ago three council members from Arcata ran unopposed.
    I think the problem lies in that it is such a headache to run a campaign and the endless bombardment once elected make folks say screw it.
    The ward system wont fix that.


    • I’m not sure that matters, Uri. I’m of the impression The Left just thinks they’ll gain an electoral advantage using ward elections. That’s why they’re the ones pushing it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m of the impression that the right thinks a citywide campaign favors them, and I must agree.

        Any system that requires more money to compete will favor those with more money.

        Liked by 4 people

      • But you’d have a council member who would be responsive to the constituents of their ward, just like our Supervisors are. Currently, their “constituents” are the people who fund their city wide campaigns.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Uri, Arcata has an at large system as well, so thank you for even more reason to try something new. (Or is it something as old as democracy – one person, one vote.)


  3. Would Bergel and Arroyo have been elected with a “true ward” system?


  4. Yes elections became a lot more expensive after Cheer Leader Cheri Arkley ran. Rob wanted to buy her the seat, but it was not meant to be. So Rob gets super pissed his rage meter started to peak and like the Hulk “Angry Rob” was born . A true ward would make it harder for the Ingomar gang and McBeth from from buying candidates so easily. Funny how the right always talk so high and morally but they hate a level playing field. They are use to always making sure they are on the winning end in a business deal and expect that in all of their life. Just like Matt and Chet from Fortuna, both putting their names in then both pulling out right after the pastor submits her paperwork. They just are not capable of playing fair. Trump is an example of what Republicans dream of being.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think we can all agree that the email hack of the DNC showed that they are the most corrupt, undemocratic entity on earth. We should all vote the opposite of anything they sink their money in. Now I am suspect of the ward system. Time for the people to own their government, not the establishment and elites.


  5. The NCJ reported a “shocking” change of events in Eureka’s city council race but “Ooops” is a pretty lame explanation for Ward 2.

    The problem for the right wing is that there are two local measures that will draw out new voters and more votes for the candidates endorsing them. As local, state and national governments continue to abandon and divest from working families and our communities, ballot measures promise nominal respite:

    Measure “P” and the county’s measure for mobile home rent control, both would have burdened Matt or Chet with additional battles to fight. Fortunately for John Fullerton, “Mutt ‘N Jeff” will now be available to devise a narrative to confuse enough folks to vote against their interests. He’s going to need it.

    Most potential voters are completely cynical about candidate’s stated values. Single issue, public-interest measures are what it takes to clarify those values and achieve the tiny margins needed to win elections when the vast majority abstains, as we saw in 2014 when over half of Bergel’s supporters had also voted for Measure “R” winning Eureka’s first non-right wing council majority. We learned this from the right-wing’s clever Measure “N” promising residents an end to the blighted Balloon Tract, generating broad support for the candidates supporting it.

    Despite many disappointments, Measure “P” alone illustrates the importance of supporting progressive candidates. This measure is the only action that this council has taken that could potentially maintain a non-right wing council majority.

    Each right-wing loss makes it more difficult for these development industry lackeys to regain control.

    They must be sweating bullets.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Pingback: Doesn’t the largest city in Humboldt County deserve more than an inverse game of musical chairs? | Tuluwat Examiner

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