Melinda Ciarabellini, who has served on the Eureka City Council for the past six years, announced today that she will not be seeking reelection this November, and she did it in the classiest and most inspiring way imaginable.

In a long letter to city residents, reprinted below, she thanks her constituents for “allowing” her to serve as their councilmember, and she urges “the passionate, the energetic, the creative, the visionary, the caring” to push back against political cynicism, particularly on the local level. 

So far, two people have registered to run for Ciarabellini’s Fourth Ward seat. They are John Fullerton — an accountant who has previously served on the Eureka Planning Commission and Eureka’s school board — and Allen McCloskey, a nursing assistant state-licensed clinical lab technician at St. Joseph Hospital who has been active in union politics. 

Only one person so far is registered to run in the Second Ward — which is currently held by termed-out Councilmember Linda Atkins. He is Matthew Owen, banker and husband of Second Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass.

If you’re one of passionate, the energetic, the creative, the visionary or the caring and you’d like to put in the hard work of serving on the Eureka City Council, your time is running short.

  • If you live in the Second Ward, the deadline to file is tomorrow (Aug. 12) at close of business.
  • If you live in the Fourth Ward, the deadline is Wednesday (Aug. 17), also at close of business.

Here’s a map of the wards.

If you’re interested, contact Eureka City Clerk Pam Powell ASAP. She’s at 441-4144. Basically, you will need 20 valid nomination signatures from 20 actual, legitimate voters registered in the City of Eureka. But call Pam — she’ll fill you in the rest of the way.

Now read Eureka City Councilmember Melinda Ciarabellini’s awesome letter:

As they Say About Local Politics – It’s Where the Rubber Meets the Road

It has been both an honor and a privilege to serve as your 4th Ward Eureka City Council member for the past six years. My term of office will end in November of this year. After long and hard consideration, I have decided not to seek re-election for a final term. I thank you for choosing me to represent you, the citizens in my Ward and in all of Eureka. Please know — those of you who are passionate about our city, its problems, solutions, and potential…those of you who have contacted me through emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, personal conversations — this was a difficult decision, made more so by your fervent support and encouragement. It involved days and weeks and months of careful and deliberate thought — you deserve no less. This, however, is the right decision at the right time for me and my family.

Today, in our country, there is a an understandable spotlight on national and state elections. They are important. They are very big deals — appealing or appalling, depending on your personal perspective. But it is at the local level, at the level of city and county elections and initiatives — this is where the rubber meets the road. Local government is one of the few places where citizens can have a direct voice in matters that affect their daily lives: policing and fire protection, water quality and street maintenance, parks and playgrounds and more, much more. The everyday elements of our lives — the routine parts that make up the whole, that may mean a good day or a bad one, that may support a healthy family or fail one that struggles — this is the business of the City. And, it is this special concentration on the specific, the normal, the ordinary that determines the quality of life of our friends, family and neighbors. This is what I will remember with pride and respect — advocating for the safety and security of our citizens and visitors while working with countless engaged and energetic Eurekans and a truly amazing City staff who are smart and innovative and who will continue to do the hard work behind the scenes.

It is fashionable for some to denigrate public service. I encourage the passionate, the energetic, the creative, the visionary, the caring to push back against this unproductive narrative. Run for public office. Participate. Step up. It will not be easy. After a long 33 year career in law enforcement and corrections dealing with people in crisis on a daily basis, responding to horrific crime scenes, managing stress and missing out on family events, I thought I had seen everything. In many respects I had but was still occasionally surprised by the decisions that would come before me as a City Council member, still unpleasantly reminded, all too often, of the politics that come with the territory. There is a steep learning curve and those considering running for Council or other public office must be prepared to do the work, know the history, meet with people who share your beliefs and those who don’t and, at the end of the day, do what is in the best interest for the City of Eureka. It will be difficult and frustrating but I believe that it will be well worth your time and effort and yes, even worth the sleepless nights. It was for me.

It is impossible to overstate my appreciation for your allowing me to serve you as your Council member for the past six years. I am very proud to have been a part of the positive changes that have made our City a better and safer place to live, work and play. I will look forward to continued civic involvement in our shared lives, to working with you in other ways to better the city we all love. Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for your support and good wishes. Thank you, Eureka.


CORRECTION: This story has been updated with McCloskey’s current job description.