Are you a Eureka resident? Do you have thoughts about ranked-choice voting? Then you might want to tune in to this evening’s virtual meeting of the Eureka City Council, during which the council may elect to ask voters whether they’d like to switch to ranked-choice for elected city offices.

Under ranked-choice voting, citizens don’t vote for a single candidate — rather, they rank candidates in their order of preference. If a candidate does not receive a majority of first-choice votes, then voters’ second choices come into play, and then their third, etc., etc.

If the council elects to move forward with the resolution before it tonight, there will be a citywide measure on the November 2020 ballot asking if voters would like to amend the City Charter to allow for a ranked-choice system. The council would then draft up rules that would pick from among the variations ranked-choice that have been employed elsewhere.

Currently employed in a few local U.S. jurisdictions — including San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Fe and St. Paul — as well as the state of Maine, ranked-choice might be particularly suited to Eureka. Under the city’s current rules, councilmembers and the Mayor are able to win their seat with less than 50 percent of the vote, and often do. Of the currently serving officers, Mayor Susan Seaman and First Ward Councilmember Leslie Castellano each received votes from less than half of their constituents. 

Ranked-choice would allow the electorate some ability to find a consensus candidate without having to hold a separate primary election in order to winnow a panoply of candidates down to two.

The Eureka City Council meets virtually at 6 p.m. this evening, and will be broadcast live on Access Humboldt Channel 10 and on the city’s website. Here is the somewhat cumbersome method for participating in the meeting during the COVID crisis, from the meeting agenda:

Members of the Public who wish to speak and be heard during the Council meeting, must submit their phone number and the name of the item that they would like to comment on by e-mail to or leave a message at 707.441.4175. The City Clerk will call the public member during the discussion of the item.

If you don’t want to call in during the meeting, please submit your comment via email to the City Clerk at or you may leave a message at 707.441.4175 prior to 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 to ensure that Council receives your comment before the meeting. All comments received by e-mail or mail will be part of the public record for Council consideration but will not be read aloud during the meeting.

For items not on the agenda, please make a note that is a “Public Comment” submission. Only those messages that state they are for public comment will be included in the record.