Thursday, July 12, 2018

UPDATE: Arcata Council Sends McKinley Initiative to Voters

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 11:14 AM

click to enlarge McKinley decision likely headed for the November ballot. - FILE
  • File
  • McKinley decision likely headed for the November ballot.
Multiple news outlets are reporting that the Arcata City Council voted unanimously last night, with Mayor Sofia Pereira absent, to put an initiative before voters seeking to prevent the removal of the President William McKinley statue from the Arcata Plaza.

The council voted 4-1, with Councilmember Michael Winkler dissenting, to remove the McKinley statute in February, spurring the citizen initiative seeking to protect it. Last night, with the initiative having gained enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, the council had just two options: approve the measure to go before voters in November or adopt it without modification. (It also could have opted to delay a decision by requesting a staff report on the issue.)

The Arcata City Council will decide this evening whether to let voters decide the fate of the McKinley statue or to walk away from its previous decision to relocate the controversial work that has stood at the plaza’s center for more than a century.

The council voted back in February to remove the statue amid a public outcry from people who feel the bronzed depiction of the nation’s 25th president doesn’t fit with Arcata’s values, that it celebrates American imperialism and is an offensive symbol to local tribes. A backlash followed immediately from community members who like the statue and believe it should stay. They drafted a petition to prohibit the modification, destruction or relocation of the historic statue. According to Humboldt County Registrar of Voters Kelly Sanders, the petition needed 954 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot and received 1,426.

Tonight the council will be faced with three choices: It can adopt the ordinance as written without modification, approve it to appear on the November ballot or order a staff report to be completed by Aug. 10. If the council orders the staff report, it would then have to decide between the first two options at a later date.

If the council approves the ordinance for the ballot, it will then have to decide whether it would like to submit arguments for or against the initiative and who would draft them.

The council meets at 6 p.m. at Arcata City Hall, 736 F St. View the full meeting agenda here.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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