North Coast Journal Weekly link to homepage
COVER STORY  |  IN THE NEWS  |  CALENDAR


Eureka City Council race:
Candidates mostly agree

A guide to propositions 2002

 


 

Eureka City Council race: Candidates mostly agree

by GEOFF S. FEIN

The Eureka City Council race has had some twists and turns, with one candidate dropping out and another getting arrested on supsicion of domestic abuse.

But when it comes to the issues, the race has been unremarkable.

While the candidates for Wards 1, 3 and 5 come from differing backgrounds and have their own distinctive styles, they are in accord on most things. They all agree, for example, that ridding neighborhoods of drug houses, encouraging economic development and making Eureka beautiful are important. And with the exception of Charles Smith, candidate for the 1st Ward, they all support Measure X, which would extend the city's 3 percent tax on utilities, phone and cable television service. The tax funds police and fire services.

What does set at least some of the candidates apart is how much money they've raised. To date, Charlene Cutler-Ploss, who is running in the 3rd Ward, has brought in $23,486. That's almost 10 times as much as her closest challenger, Jeff Leonard. Peter Tidd and Brian Payton, the other two candidates in the 3rd Ward race, do not plan on raising more than $1,000 each.

Payton was arrested Oct. 11 on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic abuse and held for a week in Humboldt County Jail. However, he plans to remain in the race. He was released late last week on his own recognizance.

Mary Beth Wolford is the top money-getter in the 1st Ward race. She's raised $5,227 compared to her lone opponent Smith, who has raised less than $1,000.

Mike Jones, who is running against Steve Anderson in the 5th Ward, has raised $2,380. Jones entered the race when two other candidates, Joel Agnew and former Councilman Lance Madsen, decided not to run. He felt there should be more than one choice for the voters. Oddly enough, Jones now finds himself the lone campaigner in the 5th Ward. Anderson dropped out of the race last month; however, his name will remain on the November ballot. If Anderson wins and does not want to become a councilman, he must resign from the office. The mayor will then appoint Anderson's replacement, pending the council's approval.

Voters may also not be aware that while each candidate represents a specific ward, they are all elected at-large. A candidate could actually lose in his or her own ward but still be elected to the council by voters citywide.

Map of Eureka Ward Boundaries showing First, Third and Fifth Wards emphasized

FIRST WARD (WEST SIDE)

Photo of Charles SmithCharles Smith
AGE
: 34
OCCUPATION: Computer network support and Internet consulting.
BACKGROUND: Smith is a fifth-generation Humboldt County resident; he is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, served on the U.S.S. Forrestal in the Persian Gulf War; served on the College of the Redwoods student government and on the California State Association of Community Colleges; served on the Humboldt County Grand Jury in 1996 and 2002.
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Smith does not intend to raise or spend more than $1,000.
ISSUES/VISION: Smith wants to establish community forums to get residents involved in brainstorming to solve problems in the ward and throughout the city. He is particularly concerned about crime, drugs and economic development. He said the city does not give enough consideration to the maintenance costs of projects and wants to set up a fund to cover such costs. Smith would like to change the city's charter to bring back primary elections.
MEASURE X: Smith said the utility tax is unfair to businesses, and that businesses have been overpaying the tax.
BIG-BOX RETAIL ORDINANCE: Smith said he is not opposed to large retail businesses. He declined to comment on the proposed ordinance because it is still making its way through the Planning Commission.
ANNEXATION: Smith said the city should annex outlying areas in order to create more land for affordable housing.
WATERFRONT DRIVE: Smith said he was opposed to construction of Waterfront Drive because of the $9 million price tag and potential lawsuits from environmental groups.

Photo of Mary Beth WolfordMary Beth Wolford
AGE:
70
OCCUPATION: Director of the Humboldt Senior Resource Center in Eureka.
BACKGROUND: Former Superintendent of Schools for the Simi Valley Unified School District in Ventura County and the Byron Union School District in Contra Costa County; presently on Eureka Preservation Commission; alternate on Redevelopment Advisory Board; board member of Humboldt Arts Council and the Eureka Heritage Society. She recently accompanied Mayor Nancy Flemming to Nelson, New Zealand, as an official delegate for Eureka's sister city program.
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Raised $5,227. Largest contributor: $250 from Maureen Woods-Krinsky, educator from Oxnard Union High School District. Notable contributors: Wendy Wahlund/Ben Shepherd, $100; Robin and Cherie Arkley, $100; David and Charlene Ploss, $100; Joseph Vellutini, $150; Dolores Vellutini, $150.
ISSUES/VISION: Wolford works with many seniors who lack a support network because their children have moved away for better jobs. She said Eureka must do more to keep young people here.
MEASURE X: Wolford said she supports Measure X. She warned that if it is defeated, then the City Council will have to decide how Eureka is going to make up the loss of $1.1 million to the city's General Fund.
BIG-BOX ORDINANCE: Wolford expressed opposition to the ordinance, and said she doesn't want Eureka to become as restrictive as Arcata. Wolford said it wouldn't be wise to close the door on major businesses interested in coming to Eureka.
HOUSING: Wolford said the City Council is going to need to look at creating more moderate-level and entry-level housing programs that help families who are above the poverty level to become homeowners. Homeowners create more stable communities, she said.

THIRD WARD (CENTRAL)

Photo of Jeff LeonardJeff Leonard
AGE
: 38
OCCUPATION: Runs his own commercial photography business.
BACKGROUND: Former McKinleyville High School teacher.
CAMPAIGN FINANCES: Raised $2,387. Largest contributors: Dolores Vellutini, $200; Joe Vellutini, $200; Dennis Reinholtsen, $200.
ISSUES/VISION: Leonard billed himself as a pro-business candidate. He expressed hope that the number of businesses in Eureka would grow over the next four years to help end reliance on the utility tax. He would like to see Eureka become a high-tech incubator, a place for start-up businesses to develop and grow.
BIG-BOX ORDINANCE: Leonard questioned the claim that the ordinance would negatively impact the business community. The spirit of the ordinance is not to put up road blocks to keep out large businesses, he said, but to allow Eureka to negotiate with businesses that might want to come here. He said there is nothing in the city's General Plan or in its zoning ordinances that addresses what happens when someone wants to build large retail businesses.
ANNEXATION: He said annexing areas such as Cutten and Myrtletown would benefit Eureka because it would increase its population and thereby make the area more attractive to businesses looking to move here. But he pointed out that any annexation effort must begin with residents who live in the areas slated for incorporation; they must give their imprimatur before the City Council can approve an annexation, Leonard said.
MEASURE X: Leonard said he supports continuing the utility tax because it funds vital city services. Other revenue sources within the city don't stack up to what the utility tax raises, he said.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Leonard said the police handle the same volume of calls as San Luis Obispo, the central California coastal city with a population of 70,000. The council will have to look at ways to help bolster the police department to handle the workload, he said.

Photo of Charlene Cutler-PlossCharlene Cutler-Ploss
AGE
: 35
OCCUPATION: Self-employed, preserves and archives photographs.
BACKGROUND: Vice-president of Keep Eureka Beautiful; volunteers on the Eureka Design Review Committee; served on the boards of the Eureka Heritage Society and College of the Redwoods Foundation.
ISSUES/VISION: Wants to see Eureka flourish as a commercial center while retaining its historic neighborhood character.
BIG-BOX ORDINANCE: While Cutler-Ploss described herself as pro-growth, she said the big box ordinance is going in the right direction. The ordinance will not keep businesses out, she said.
ANNEXATION: She said annexation is a good idea if those in the outlying areas want it. Eureka could also take advantage of state funding if the city's population were to increase to 50,000, Cutler-Ploss said. Finally, annexation would also aid in traffic planning, Cutler-Ploss said, as Eureka would gain control over streets that are contiguous to residential and commercial areas in the city.
MEASURE X: She expressed support for continuing the utility tax for four more years. If the measure should fail, the next council will have to look at cutting services, she warned.
WATERFRONT DRIVE: Cutler-Ploss expressed a number of concerns with the proposal to build a road on the western edge of Eureka that would run alongside PALCO Marsh. She questioned, for example, whether Waterfront Drive would really reduce traffic on Broadway. She also raised concerns about the design and the cost of the road. Nonetheless, she said she would not take a firm position until the environmental impact report is completed in 18 months.

Photo of Brian PaytonBrian Payton
AGE
: 29
OCCUPATION: Payton recently resigned from his job as cook at the North Coast Children's Services.
BACKGROUND
: Payton was a teaching assistant at the Redwood Unified Preschool; he was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to recall councilmembers Maxine Hunter Meeks and Jack McKellar in 2000.
ISSUES/VISION: Payton said Eureka must strike a balance between taking care of Old Town and meeting basic infrastructure needs, such as keeping streets and alleys in good repair. He said he has contacted the high-tech computer firms Intel and Hewlett Packard about relocating to Eureka. Children's issues also need more attention, Payton said.
CAMPAIGN FINANCES: As of Oct. 18, Payton had not filed any campaign disclosure forms with the Eureka City Clerk's office.
ANNEXATION: Payton said Eureka should annex outlying areas because of the growth occurring there.
BIG-BOX ORDINANCE: Payton was critical of the ordinance, saying that businesses need more leeway in Eureka, not less. He said he doesn't want all retail businesses concentrated in Bayshore Mall.
NOTE: The District Attorney's Office agreed to release Payton from jail last week because he had no previous criminal record. According to Deputy District Attorney Worth Dikeman, Payton got into a shoving match with his wife after they disagreed about how to discipline their children. Payton is being charged with a misdemeanor since no serious or permanent injuries were inflicted.

Photo of Peter TiddPeter Tidd
AGE
: 37
Occupation: Designer of role-playing games.
CAMPAIGN FINANCES: He does not plan to raise or spend more than $1,000.
ISSUES/VISION: Tidd wants to address the needs of the poor and those suffering from substance abuse. He said one way to reduce the number of destitute people in Eureka is to create jobs.
ANNEXATION: He said he supported annexing Cutten, Myrtletown and King Salmon.
CRIME: Tidd proposed boosting pay and training for Eureka police officers. He'd like to see the city crack down on the manufacturing of methamphetamine and at the same time offer treatment programs for addicts.

FIFTH WARD (SOUTH SIDE)

Photo of Mike JonesMike Jones
AGE
: 55
OCCUPATION: Commercial insurance agent.
CAMPAIGN FINANCES: Raised $2,380. Largest contributor: David Ogden $2,021.
ISSUES/VISION: Port development is a priority for Jones, who said he wants to establish a freight container and a ship repair yard. If elected, he said he would push an anti-lawn-sign ordinance.
ANNEXATION: Jones said annexation of Cutten, Myrtletown and other neighboring unincorporated areas would increase Eureka's clout.
MEASURE X: He said he supports the utility tax but would like to see it eliminated in four years.


A guide to propositions 2002

California's initiative process gives voters the opportunity to vote yea or nay on seven propositions Nov. 5. Among them: three bond measures, two initiatives earmarking money for specific projects, one constitutional amendment and a change in voting rules.

Prop. 46: Housing and Emergency Shelter Act: $2.1 billion bond issue funds low-income housing projects, first-time homebuyer programs, homeless and battered women's shelters. Widely supported, except by conservatives who see it as yet another tax and spend venture.

Prop. 47: Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act: Provides $13.05 billion for construction and improvements of school facilities including matching funds for Eureka City Schools' Measures S and T. Who would vote against schools? The same folks who oppose Prop. 46.

Prop. 48: Court Consolidation. Legislative Constitutional Amendment: Eliminates references to municipal courts as a follow-up to Prop 220 from 1998, a consolidation of the state's superior and municipal courts. Supporters say it merely updates obsolete codes. Opponents figure we might change our mind about municipal courts.

Prop. 49: Before and After School Programs Initiative: Written and proposed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the proposition insures annual funding for before and after school programs, not with bond money, but by earmarking a minimum of $550 million from the general fund. The opposition, led by the League of Women Voters and including the National Organization of Women and the Calif. Federation of Teachers, argues that the mandate could be at the expense of other worthy programs.

Prop. 50: Bonds for Water Quality, Safe Drinking Water, Wetlands Protection, etc: $3.4 billion in bonds for levies, canal lining, water system upgrades, river parkway projects, wetlands acquisition and restoration, desalination and safe water programs. Note that the Sierra Club supports the bond but the Northcoast Environmental Center does not. Why? Because the projects are mostly for Central and Southern Calif. NEC says, "(Prop. 50) may do hardly anything for the North Coast -- except send more of the region's water gushing to irrigate the fields of agribusiness."

Prop. 51: Allocation of Sales Taxes Raised From Sale of Motor Vehicles: Sets aside a portion of vehicle tax revenues for 49 specific highway expansion and transportation projects and for new school buses. Another example of pork barrel by proposition with money earmarked for a number of particular projects, many of which would likely go unfunded by the cash-strapped legislature. Opposition is led by the League of Women Voters who say the money is locked in without regard to potential state budget constraints.

Prop. 52: Election Day Voter Registration: Permits eligible persons with valid ID to register to vote at any time, even on election day, while increasing penalties for voter fraud. Supporters say more people will vote. Opponents say there too many loopholes that could lead to more fraud at the polls.

Information for the chart below was collected in early Oct. by Humboldt Organized for People and the Environment, a.k.a. the H.O.P.E. Coalition. To support their work, send donations to H.O.P.E. Coalition, Box 385, Arcata, CA. 95521. Call them at 826-9313, or go to www.hopecoalition.org.

 

Y = Yes      N = No

PROPOSITION

46 47 48 49 50 51 52
 ORGANIZATION  
Amer. Assoc.of Retired Persons-Calif.-AARP. Y Y   Y      
Amer. Assoc.of University Women-AAUW Y Y   N     Y
Calif. AFL-CIO (Labor Unions) Y Y     Y   Y
Calif. Council of Churches Y Y   Y Y   Y
Calif. Democratic Party Y Y Y   Y   Y
Calif. League of Conservation Voters         Y   Y
Calif. Republican Party N N Y Y N N N
Calif. Taxpayers Association Y Y   Y N N  
California Teachers Association-CTA Y Y   Y Y   N
Capitol Research Inst. (Christian Coalition) N N   N N N N
Congress of Calif. Seniors Y Y   N   N Y
Green Party Y Y       N Y
League of Women Voters Y Y   N Y N Y
Libertarian Party of Humboldt N N N N N    
Nat. Assoc. Adv. Colored People-NAACP Y Y   Y Y   Y
Northcoast Environmental Center-NEC         N    
Sierra Club Y       Y Y  
46 47 48 49 50 51 52

 


 


COVER STORY  |  IN THE NEWS  |  CALENDAR

Comments? E-mail the Journal: ncjour@northcoast.com

North Coast Journal Weekly

© Copyright 2002, North Coast Journal, Inc.