UPDATE: According to the final unofficial Humboldt County election report, 62.16 percent of voters opposed the passage of Arcata’s Measure M, which would have prevented the removal or destruction of the President William McKinley statue in the Arcata Plaza.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: According to the third unofficial Humboldt County election report, 59.38 percent of voters opposed the passage of Arcata’s Measure M, which would prevent the removal or destruction of the President William McKinley statue in the Arcata Plaza.
PREVIOUS REPORT: Measure M, which would prevent the removal or destruction of the President William McKinley statue in the Arcata Plaza is in a very tight race according to early results Tuesday night.
Initial results show 50.96 percent of votes are in opposition to the measure and 49.04 percent of votes are in favor. The difference comes down to a mere 26 votes.
The measure is a response to a previous 4-1 Arcata City Council vote in February to remove the statue, with Councilman Michael Winkler dissenting. Shortly after the vote, Winkler helped a citizen initiative gain enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot. In July, the council unanimously opted to put the measure on the November ballot instead of outright adopting it as written.
Winkler did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night. Members of the No on Measure M campaign did also not respond to requests for comment.
The fate of the statue has been a contentious issue and during city council meetings, dozens of community members came out to speak on the issue.
In mid-October, the statue was vandalized when an unknown substance was thrown on the statue. The patina of the statue remains marred by the incident.
According to the city’s website, if the measure is approved, Arcata will be prevented “from altering, relocating or destroying the McKinley statue and its base from its current location at the center of Arcata’s Plaza.”
If the measure doesn’t pass, “the city will finalize the environmental review process and proceed with relocation of the statue,” according to the city’s website.
According to David Loya, community development director, the estimated cost to remove the statue is $65,000.
“I supported Measure M being on the ballot as a matter of process because so many Arcata residents felt left out of the decision to remove the statue,” Councilman Brett Watson said in an email Tuesday night.
If the measure passes, Watson said he would, “work to add plaques around the statue that give it more historical context, so we can use it as a tool to better understand our local history and the record of William McKinley.”
Mayor Sofia Pereira said, “creating a hopeful and inclusive future for our community doesn’t end with tonight’s vote.”
Philip Santos can be reached at 707-441-0506.