Or­nelas re­signs from coun­cil seat, cit­ing CalPERS is­sues

She will con­tinue in Blue Lake po­si­tion

Times Standard (Eureka) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Ruth Sch­nei­der rschnei­der@times-stan­dard.com Con­tact re­porter Ruth Sch­nei­der at 707-441-0520.

Long­time Ar­cata Coun­cil­woman Susan Or­nelas re­signed from the coun­cil ef­fec­tive “last Tues­day,” she told the TimesS­tan­dard on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

“I re­gret­fully re­signed,” she said. “I was ad­vised it was fis­cally im­pru­dent to con­tinue. It was a CalPERS sit­u­a­tion. It’s kind of com­plex.”

She did not ex­plain the facets of the sit­u­a­tion, just stat­ing that it was not in her best in­ter­est to con­tinue.

“It be­came clear to me that I needed to re­sign as soon as pos­si­ble to avoid the neg­a­tive ef­fects through CalPERS,” she said.

Or­nelas will con­tinue to work in eco­nomic devel­op­ment for the city of Blue Lake. City man­agers in Ar­cata and Blue Lake con­firmed the is­sue arose out of work­ing for the two sep­a­rate cities, both of which can con­trib­ute to CalPERS re­tire­ment ac­counts. Both stressed the fi­nal de­ci­sion was Or­nelas’ to make.

“I know she had con­tacted CalPERS early on when she took her po­si­tion with Blue Lake,” said Ar­cata City Man­ager Karen Diemer. “They have come back .. .and have made a de­ter­mi­na­tion they worked out.”

“This in no way af­fects the city’s con­tri­bu­tion for her re­tire­ment,” said Ble Lake City Man­ager Amanda Mager.

Or­nelas, who was first elected to the coun­cil in 2008 had planned to fin­ish her term in Novem­ber and an­nounced pre­vi­ously she did not plan to seek re-elec­tion.

“It would have been 12 years this Novem­ber,” she said.

Diemer said the city will con­sider the is­sue at the next meet­ing on March 18, at which point they can con­sider ap­point­ing some­one to fin­ish the term. The city likely won’t hold a spe­cial elec­tion be­cause Or­nelas’ seat is set to be on the Novem­ber 2020 bal­lot any­way.

The coun­cil will also have to look at what com­mit­tees Or­nelas serves on and find al­ter­nates. Or­nelas serves on the Hum­boldt County As­so­ci­a­tion of Gov­ern­ments and the al­ter­nate is Mayor Michael Win­kler.

“We will con­firm that he can take over for her du­ties,” Diemer said, “and look at her other li­ai­son ap­point­ments.”

Or­nelas thanked those she worked with in the Ar­cata com­mu­nity and city staff.

“I am thank­ful for all the won­der­ful peo­ple I got to work with,” she said.

“As a pri­vate cit­i­zen, I will con­tinue to work for things I think are good ideas mov­ing for­ward.”

Diemer said the city will con­sider the is­sue at the next meet­ing on March 18, at which point they can con­sider ap­point­ing some­one to fin­ish the term. The city likely won’t hold a spe­cial elec­tion be­cause Or­nelas’ seat is set to be on the Novem­ber 2020 bal­lot any­way.

JOSE QUEZADA — THE TIMES-STAN­DARD FILE

Susan Or­nelas, cen­ter, re­signed from the Ar­cata City Coun­cil, she said Thurs­day. The coun­cil will con­sider what hap­pens next at its meet­ing on March 18.

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