WER Oct 17 2006 - Eureka Civic Association is the new player on political scene

Eureka Civic Association is the new player on political scen

By , The Eureka Reporter
Published: Oct 17 2006, 9:19 PM · Updated: Oct 18 2006, 12:12 PM

There's a new player on Eureka's political scene, and though it's small in numbers and even smaller in funding, Eureka Civic Association co-founder David Ogden said, it hopes to help promote a big change in local government.

"What I feel, and have felt for many years, is missing in Eureka is an organization that comes together to promote the candidacy of well-qualified individuals who will reach out to the entire community and represent the whole community equally," Ogden explained.

After coming to know each other through the nonprofit Citizens for Real Economic Growth - with which the ECA is not affiliated, Ogden emphasized - he, Eureka residents Tom Peters and Neal Latt together decided to form the political action committee as a vehicle for their shared ideas.

No one thing prompted the decision, Ogden said, "but it was more the cumulative effect of watching years of what I call 'do nothing' council members."

Not surprisingly, one of the most pressing issues for the group is the city's beleaguered Balloon Track parcel.

"(Rob) Arkley owns it now, and we're excited to see a local developer take it over," Latt acknowledged. "But it doesn't change our demand for full clean-up of the property, not just capping."

"Why hasn't the City Council taken any leadership whatsoever on that very valuable piece of property?" Ogden added.

In considering the Balloon Track property, as well as Eureka's entire Waterfront, he clarified, the city needs to actively involve the community and provide open, transparent government - and not only for Eureka residents, but for all residents in the surrounding area.

"We need more public participation, not a charade of one," Latt noted, drawing a distinction between the public comment that will be taken as part of the environmental impact report process for the Balloon Track and the public involvement that could be realized through community workshops, such as the visioning forum hosted by CREG last Friday.

While Balloon Track talk maintains a significant presence both in the community and the November election, however, the ECA is also keeping a watchful eye on things like public safety, the Sequoia Park Zoo, recreation opportunities - "all of those things over which the City Council has direct influence and control," Ogden observed.

The group's mission statement notes that it is nonpartisan, "dedicated to the principle of government for the people and by the people."

It has endorsed Eureka 1st, 3rd and 5th Ward City Council candidates Larry Glass, Ron Kuhnel and Nan Abrams, respectively, as well as Eureka Mayor Peter La Vallee and Humboldt County 4th District Supervisor Bonnie Neely.

"We feel they represent the kind of values and commitment to positive change we support," Ogden said.
"And the commitment to public process," Latt added.

The Eureka Civic Association came into official existence on Sept. 15, when it started a bank account and the related tracking of all monetary and nonmonetary contributions and expenditures for the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Between Sept. 15 and Sept. 30, according to the ECA's financial disclosure statements, it raised $2,500, $1,000 from Ogden and $1,500 from McKinleyville resident Dr. Ken Miller.

During that period, $700 was spent on the production of two television advertisements, some of which will begin airing soon, Ogden said.

With the November election looming, the ECA is coming into the race "kind of a day late and a dollar short," he joked, though he promised it will be putting its efforts into get-out-the-vote campaigns and advertising.

More information is at www.eurekacivicassociation.org.

Ogden, who is retired from his work at Strictly for the Birds in Old Town Eureka, is also serving in a volunteer capacity as the treasurer for the campaigns of Glass and Abrams.

Referring to the upcoming city election, he said, "This is the biggest thing I've seen go down in Eureka politics in all the years I've been here - which is close to 20 years now. ... And it's about time."
(Rob and Cherie Arkley own Security National, which owns The Eureka Reporter and the Balloon Track.)