The statue of William McKinley, a $15,000 gift to Arcata from George Zehndner “for all time to come,” inspires constant grumbling. Some don’t think McK’s values and actions well represent Arcata. Others see an essential icon, part of Arcata’s history since 1906.
A couple of years ago, a serious movement sprang up to place statue removal on the ballot. That would require signature gathering for an initiative and eventually, a vote. Alas, that group faded away.
This is too big a deal for the City Council to decide on its own, and the councilmembers will surely tell you the same thing. For any change to Arcata this fundamental and controversial, we need the voting public to weigh in. This is how Arcata decisively settled its policy on community water fluoridation and how the county adopted GMO regulations.
A ballot measure is the only way to ascertain the will of the people and truly settle the McKinley question. If there’s genuine, widespread public interest in replacing the statue, putting the question to Arcata’s voters should be relatively easy.
Let the people decide.