by JUDY HODGSON
When we interviewed candidates for the Arcata and Eureka council races, we were a little disheartened to find some candidates so ill-informed. If you are going to complain about what the city isn't doing about parking or street repair, for instance, at least trouble yourself to find out what the city is doing already.
With that in mind, these are the recommendations of our editorial staff of three (Hodgson, Doran, Holschuh):
Arcata City Council. Connie Stewart is an easy pick. She's smart, does her homework and is a good leader. Bob Ornelas, though often controversial and entertaining, has served the city well. And Dwain Goforth has the knowledge, experience and a strong desire to serve.
Eureka City Council Ward Four. We recommend Connie Miller. This race should have been an easy decision for voters. Miller is a hard-working, honest, independent, clear-thinking incumbent with a lifetime resumé of community service. (We love her new trails committee.) And yes, she really is that nice. Her opponent is Chris Kerrigan, a 20-year-old part-time student (three colleges so far) who once coached a youth basketball team. He is promising "to end divisiveness" on the council, but that would be a tall order.
Voters should rightfully be suspicious of the well-financed effort to oust Miller. I suspect some residual anti-Wal-Mart and anti-Harvey Rose forces are still busy long after they won those two separate battles. Miller fended off tremendous pressure and was unwavering in her support for Rose, but she also enthusiastically backs the new city manager, David Tyson. And she voted against Measure J last year --with the majority of Eurekans -- because Wal-Mart was not a good use for the balloon tract parcel. Her position on this issue is identical to every other candidate in both ward races.
Regarding Kerrigan, yes, he is bright and certainly has a future in politics. And yes, we need new voices in public office, young voices, but not at the expense of one of our best city leaders, which are in such short supply.
Eureka City Council Ward Two. We recommend Peter La Vallee. This interesting race should be a close one. We favor La Vallee because of the depth and breadth of his knowledge, his budget experience and a unique perspective that he would bring to the council. He manages several programs, all dealing with troubled youth. Some see his social services background as a negative because "He's not a business person." But it also could be a very strong asset.
First District Supervisor. We recommend Jimmy Smith. Again, this should be close and I know many residents are agonizing over having to choose one friend over another, both good men.
Despite what you may have heard, there are substantial philosophical differences between Smith, a Democrat, and his opponent, Walt Giacomini, a Republican. Both approach government along their respective party lines. But an important difference, critical in this nonpartisan race, is experience. Smith, with his background in natural resources, has proven he is a patient problem-solver. He was instrumental in the effort to clean up the homeless camp on the South Spit and in guiding the harbor deepening project. And his knowledge of river issues and fisheries is especially valuable. Humboldt County has years of tough battles ahead with regulatory agencies in the effort to return more water to the Klamath, Trinity and Eel rivers. Smith can hit the ground running.
Finally, I can't help but comment on a few of the Times-Standard's endorsements. First, the editorial board backed one of seven candidates (Smith) in a primary last spring in a race that was dead certain to go to a run-off. I sympathize and agree with Giacomini that such an endorsement was inappropriate and premature, not to mention unnecessary, in a primary.
Second, while I agree with the daily's endorsements of Mike Thompson for Congress and Virginia Strom-Martin for Assembly (they are both doing a good job for the North Coast), I disagree with its failure to back Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Oct. 26). Although she has written letters of inquiry that give some of us cause to worry, to prejudge what she ultimately will or will not do regarding Trinity River water is unfair. And to minimize her role in settling the long-running Headwaters dispute is not only outrageous, it's wrong.
And third, the Times-Standard managed to absolutely trash both leading presidential candidates last week (Oct. 24) before finally backing George W. Bush with a predictable list of Republican clichés (Cut taxes for the rich! Repeal the Endangered Species Act! Bring back big military-spending contracts to California!).
As a society, if we don't treat those who choose to run for public office with more respect (they are not all scoundrels), then we get what we deserve -- those few souls who agree to put up with such abuse.
That goes for candidates for city council as well as president.
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