Greg Dale, a fellow member of the Board of Directors of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, was working the grill as people walked up early to Eureka’s Madaket Plaza, where Richard Marks would officially launch his reelection campaign at noon today. The condiments and buns were set out on a side table, and Dale was busy filling a serving container with dogs.
It was an old-fashioned touch, and one that no doubt came natural to Marks, who spent many years as labor organizer and continues to involve himself with old-fashioned, working-class Democratic party politics. His people were giving up their lunch hour for his campaign launch; he would see to it that they would be fed.
But Dale had to break it to at least one attendee — they hadn’t thought to bring tofu dogs.
Among those present and accounted for: Supervisor Mike Wilson, Eureka Mayor Frank Jager, former Eureka Mayor Peter LaVallee, Eureka City Councilmember Natalie Arroyo, former Eureka City Councilmember Larry Glass, Eureka City Council Candidate Leslie Castellano, Arcata City Councilmember Brett Watson, former Arcata City Councilmembers Alex Stillman and Julie Fulkerson, Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez.
After everyone had an opportunity to slap some mustard on their franks, Marks summoned the crowd of about 40 to gather ‘round the PA for the speeches. Those speeches would be full-throated in their praise for the candidate and his nine-year record of service on the Harbor District’s board, and sometimes laden with disdain for his opponent, termed-out Eureka City Councilmember Marian Brady.
Third District Supervisor kicked off the festivities with an 11-minute stemwinder that recalled the times he and Marks served on the Harbor District, and Marks’ leadership during the district’s financial crisis 10 years ago, the loosening of coastal-dependent industrial zoning restrictions around the bay to allow for new investment, and his work in the district’s acquisition of the old Samoa pulp mill — Marks’ employer, once upon a time — and the subsequent federally funded cleanup of dangerous industrial chemicals at the site.
Wilson especially emphasized Marks’ work on the pulp mill cleanup. He praised Marks’ ability to organize a coalition across all sorts of agencies and political players to prevent a potentially catastrophic chemical spill, and he said that Marks was also instrumental in advocating for the district to bring new industries into the shell of the old mill.
“Richard’s opponent thinks this was a bad decision,” Wilson said. “I can’t imagine what another decision would have been. This was a good decision that was made. Certainly the paths that followed from that were far more positive than the alternative.”
Eureka Mayor Frank Jager — a self-identified “conservative Republican” who found himself in front of Democratic crowd — lauded Marks’ commitment to economic development and his ability to work across ideological lines. (Greg Dale, who spoke later, is also Republican.)
“I support Richard because he’s a friend,” Jager said. “But most of all I support Richard because he’s the type of public servant who’s easy to work with. He’s exactly what we need more of at the local and national level — someone who’s willing to work with all sides of an issue, someone who — without sacrificing his core beliefs — works to find solutions through compromise.”
When it came time for Marks himself to speak, he deflected much of the praise that had preceded him, saying that the harbor district has had a strong team in place over the last decade. He listed off his endorsements — various political organizations and unions and Supervisor Virginia Bass, former state Senator Wesley Chesbro and others, along with many of the people in attendance — and he spoke, briefly, of several improvements to various Harbor District facilities in Shelter Cove, Fields Landing, Woodley Island and elsewhere.
“The harbor’s healthy right now,” Marks said. “I would like to continue my service, and that’s why I’m asking for your vote on November 6.”
Listen to the full audio from speeches given below. Wilson is first; Jager starts at about 11:15; Greg Dale kicks in at 13:15; and Marks himself begins at 16:15.