October 27, 2005
by JUDY HODGSON
There is a very high probability that we all could be sitting here 10 years from now --- or even 20 --- arguing about saving the railroad. A railroad that has no viable customers. A railroad that hasn't run a train on its tracks in nearly a decade. A railroad with a right of way traversing some of the state's most sensitive, unstable terrain, a line that was notoriously fragile in the best of its operating years. A railroad that maybe should never have been built --- at least not through the Eel River Canyon. (Ironically, one of our first stories 15 years ago in the Journal detailed a plan for an east-west rail line that was never built. At least it was a plan that made some sense.)
Or, there is the possibility that our Democratic leadership --- Rep. Mike Thompson, State Sen. Wesley Chesbro, Supervisor John Woolley, Eureka Mayor Peter La Vallee, to name the more outspoken --- sooner or later will state publicly what many say privately. The railroad isn't coming back. It is only then that we can free up some of our resources for use in new and innovative ways.
In the meantime, we are going to back two newcomers for the harbor district, or the bay district, or whatever you choose to call the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District: The Journal is endorsing Maggy Herbelin and Mike Wilson.
It's not that the two incumbents --- Dennis Hunter and Ron Fritzsche --- haven't served the district long and well. (Of particular note is the completion of the geographic information database of the bay.) It's just that the time has come for new leadership, new ideas --- and new priorities.
Herbelin has already assumed a leadership role in her position of coordinator of the group, Humboldt Bay Stewards. Wilson is firmly behind developing a trail around the bay using the railroad right of way to link Arcata and Eureka, a concept that we have previously endorsed. (The glaring lack of such a trail plan will surely become a major issue in the race for 4th District Supervisor next year.)
We are publishing this endorsement two weeks prior to the election to give readers an opportunity to respond. Please have your letters in by Monday, Oct. 31 at 4 p.m. for consideration.
In this week's Journal, in addition to the harbor district, we chose to cover several races that are particularly newsworthy: the very turbulent Klamath-Trinity School District, the McKinleyville Community Services District and the race for Northern Humboldt Union High School District.
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