Arcata Council Casts 'No Confidence Vote' After Removing Mayor for 'Alleged Behaviors'

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The Arcata City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to remove Brett Watson from the position of mayor and followed up the decision with a no confidence vote in his ability to serve as a councilmember.

Watson was not present “due to personal reasons,” according to Stacy Atkins-Salazar, who was selected to serve as mayor until December of 2022.

Vice Mayor Emily Goldstein, who was also appointed to her post at last night’s meeting, read a somewhat lengthy but vague statement about alleged actions taken by Watson that she said had come to the council’s attention in the last week before moving for the no confidence vote. Watson, she said, had been made aware that the votes were going to take place.

“For the public listening in, this means that I move to hold a vote to determine if the council believes Councilmember Watson is fit to serve on our Arcata City Council,” Goldstein read. “We have no legal ability to remove him from the city council. However, I believe we owe it to the people of Arcata to make it clear — we do not align ourselves with the actions of Councilmember Watson. This last week, information came to light regarding alleged behaviors of Councilmember Watson that negatively affected the city and some of its staff members.

“It is our responsibility now, as the council, to protect the well-being of our employees and the ability of our city  to run smoothly,”  she continued. “While to some of you it may seem unfair that we are moving forward with this vote of no confidence when Councilmember Watson is not present, we did feel it was important to be transparent with the residents of Arcata and share that this decision of leadership rotation and this proposed vote were made based on a body of information, although some of this cannot be shared publicly at this time. I have previously conveyed my thoughts to Councilmember Watson and he has been made aware that this vote would move forward at this evening’s council meeting. I do not take this decision lightly. I have shared all I can at this time and the city will address the alleged actions in a confidential manner.”

The four council members then cast their unanimous votes of no confidence.



“I would just like to say Vice Mayor Goldstein summed up the situation quite well and we’ve been elected to help run and guide the city of Arcata and that’s what we want to do and are trying to do and so it’s important that we move forward,” Atkins-Salazar said. “To reiterate, this was not taken lightly.”

As of this morning, Watson has not submitted a letter of resignation. He was first appointed to fill an open seat on the council in 2017 before being elected the next year. In August, Watson was arrested for driving under the influence at a controlled traffic stop conducted by the California Highway Patrol on L.K. Wood Boulevard.

He later released a statement saying he was having a difficult time dealing with the year anniversary of his father’s suicide.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Nov. 3.

Read the city of Arcata release below:

Arcata, CA, October 21, 2021 – The Arcata City Council appointed a new Mayor and Vice-Mayor at a special meeting on Wednesday, October 20.

The Council elected Councilmember Stacy Atkins-Salazar to be Mayor and Councilmember Emily Goldstein to serve as Vice-Mayor. Both Mayor Atkins-Salazar and Vice-Mayor Goldstein will serve in their new roles until December 2022 as the City’s Municipal Code requires the Arcata City Council to select the mayor and vice-mayor annually at a special meeting held each December.

The mayor of Arcata’s duties include presiding at Council meetings, representing the Council at community events and performing other ministerial duties, and the vice-mayor will preside in the event of the mayor’s absence.

Of her appointment, Mayor Atkins-Salazar said, “I am honored to now be serving our city in the capacity as Mayor, and I look forward to helping our Council accomplish the many goals that we have put forward.”

The next Arcata City Council meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 3. For more information on how to view the meeting or make public comment, please visit cityofarcata.org.

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