In a few minutes, the Arcata City Council will decide what sort of disciplinary measures to impose on former mayor Brett Watson, whom a city investigation found committed sustained acts of sexual harassment against a female city employee. Watson continues to serve on the Arcata City Council.
According to a staff report published in advance of tonight’s special meeting on the topic, it seems that at minimum the city will seek a restraining order against Watson, limiting his access to City Hall and to staff. But the city cannot fire Watson, as he is an elected member of the council.
In advance of tonight’s meeting, over 50 local women, many of them in leadership positions around the county, are calling upon Watson to resign. They have signed the following letter, which they have shared with the Outpost.
The Arcata City Council meets at 6 p.m. tonight at Arcata City Hall. You can view the meeting via the meeting page on the City of Arcata’s website. To participate via Zoom, click this link.
Here is the open letter:
May 17, 2022
We are women leaders who live in, work in, care about, and/or frequent Arcata. We are daughters, mothers, business owners, elected officials, and so much more. We have read the report and have been talking in private circles about the report and the responses to it. We are here to share.
Most of us have known a “Brett Watson” in our lives – a man who took liberties while passing the blame on to the victims of his harassment. Most of us have experienced or witnessed the victim of harassment being left to defend themselves, or only supported by whisper networks. We are done accepting men like you that treat this behavior as the norm.
We know that leadership is not just about power for ourselves. We have responsibilities to ourselves, each other, and the community to use our platforms for the greater good. As such, we stand together in this letter to make a demand:
You must resign.
We know you probably will ignore this and the countless other calls for your resignation. But this moment isn’t just about you. We want the young people in our community to see that we expect more from leadership. We want them to know that we will stand with them when they meet a “Brett Watson” in their lives – and hopefully they will know who among us to come to for help.
Local youth have bravely spoken out this year about sexual assault, harrassment, and other forms of sexualized violence. They know the world is often tolerant of abuses of power from people with platforms, and worry the adults of the world will not do enough to make it safer for the next generation of leaders. The youth of Arcata and the surrounding communities deserve leadership that values the safety and belonging of everyone in our community, regardless of power.
For the safety of current and future colleagues—especially women and girls– and to model for others what taking responsibility for your actions looks like, we demand that you resign from your position on City Council.
With love for our community,
- Amanda Peçanha Hickey
- Andrea Alstone, Arcata resident
- Angelica Lua, Child Abuse and Neglect Coordinator;IFECMH, McKinleyville Family Resource Center
- Aristea Saulsbury, Clerk, Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board; Co-Director of Stepping Stone Consulting; Prevention and Community Outreach Project Manager, McKinleyville Family Resource Center
- Beth Herrmann, Purchasing Manager Open Door Community Health Centers
- Bonnie Oliver, Chair, McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee
- Brittany Erez
- Carla Osborn
- Caroline Griffith, Executive Director, Northcoast Environmental Center
- Cassandra Crawford, Youth Program Operator, McKinleyville Family Resource Center
- Cat Koshkin
- Catherine Holloway
- Chloe Eicher, Speech Language Pathologist, Arcata Citizen
- Cindy Vickers, Director of Fiscal Services, Northern Humboldt Union High School District
- Cori Jara, Program Manager, McKinleyville Family Resource Center
- Cybelle Immitt, Humboldt County resident, daughter, sister, mother, friend
- Dana Silvernale, Trustee, Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board
- Desiree Davenport, former Director, Humboldt Community Services District; former board member, Redwood Regional Economic Development Commission
- Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy, Arcata resident
- Esther Hutton, Mother and Director of the Manila Community Resource Center
- Gayle Conway, Director of Student Services, Northern Humboldt Union High School District
- Heather Equinoss
- Hillarie Beyer, Executive Director, McKinleyville Family Resource Center
- Jacqueline Dandeneau Mother, Community Member, Feminist, Artist
- Jen Rice
- Jennifer Black
- Julie Ryan, Humboldt County resident
- Heidi Moore-Guynup, Humboldt County Educator, CalPoly Humboldt Lecturer
- Kara Simpson
- Katie Koscielak, Humboldt County resident
- Kelly Nord, Humboldt County Resident
- Lisa Dugan, McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee
- Lori Biondini, Humboldt County resident
- Martha Spencer, Former Director of Humboldt County Planning and Building Department
- Mary Burke, Former Director, McKinleyville Community Services District
- Maya Conrad, McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee
- Melissa Meiris, Co-Director, Stepping Stone Consulting
- Michelle Fuller
- Nani Villa, Lead case manager, McKinleyville Family Resource Center
- Natalie Arroyo
- Natalie Giannini, Trustee Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board; Lecturer at Cal Poly Humboldt
- Rachel Watson, McKinleyville Educator
- Robin Baker, Program Manager, McKinleyville Family Resource Center, former Arcata Planning Commissioner
- Sandi Byrd, Hospitality and Volunteer Program Manager, McKinleyville Family Resource Center
- Sheri Woo, Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District President, Redwood Coast Energy Authority Board Member
- Sofia Pereira, Former Arcata Mayor and Councilmember
- Stephanie Lumsden, Board member of the Native Women’s Collective, Adjunct faculty at Cal Poly Humboldt
- Taffy Stockton
- Terra Tolley, Newborn Foundation
- Theresa Grosjean, President, Northern Humboldt Union High School District Board of Trustees
- Tiffany Maher, Morris Elementary School Principal