Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – If Mark Wheetley’s vacated seat on the City Council was a plush throne made of gold and trimmed in rich Corinthian leather, it probably wouldn’t be more intensely sought after. As of Friday, some 10 aspirants have taken out papers to be considered for appointment to the single open seat by the remaining four councilmembers.
The two latest potential candidates are Michael Hart and former City Councilmember Alex Stillman. Hart is a newcomer to Arcata politics whose views are unknown, and he couldn’t immediately be reached.
Conversely, Stillman is a highly public figure, and easily the most-experienced councilmember in Arcata history. She was the first woman elected to the City Council back in 1972, serving until 1980. She was re-elected in 2006, that time serving until late 2014. On her most recent departure from the council, Stillman joked that she could run for a council seat yet again in 15 years, but it only took a little more than two to pique her interest.
She said it was a matter of popular demand. “I was encouraged by citizens in Arcata to step forward,” she said. “They feel I could fit right in. I haven’t been gone that long, so it wouldn’t be that hard.”
Environmental policy issues are at the forefront of her agenda. “I’m always concerned about wetlands and marshes,” she said. Incorporating the latest Local Coastal Plan policies into Arcata’s General Plan is important, as is completing the local trail system. “There are a lot of odds and ends,” she said.
She’s deeply impressed with her rival applicants, particularly some of the planning commissioners in the running. She considers that body to be a prime councilmember training ground. “They’re excellent,” Stillman said. “They would be excellent people to be on the council.”
The time window to take out and return nomination papers at City Hall closes this Friday, March 24 at 5 p.m. A candidate forum is scheduled for Thursday, April 13. The new councilmember will be appointed by the four incumbents as soon as April 19.
Those who had taken out papers as of last Friday are Jason Akana, Robin Baker, Adrian Kamada, Judith Mayer, Josh Neff, Alison Robbins, Valerie Rose-Campbell and Brett Watson.
City Clerk Bridget Dory said Friday that three of the 10 council aspirants had turned in their application packets: Baker, Neff and Watson. Their nomination petitions, which require valid signatures by 20 registered voters, were all certified as sufficient, Dory said, ensuring their eligibility for selection to the open seat.