City Council

The City of Arcata is governed by a five-member elected City Council.  Council members serve four-year staggered terms.  General Municipal Elections are held in November of even-numbered years.  Each December the Council members elect one member to serve as Mayor and one to serve as Vice-Mayor. The Mayor signs official documents, presides over City Council meetings, and acts as the official head of the City at public and ceremonial occasions.  The Vice-Mayor serves as the Mayor in the absence or disability of the Mayor.  Currently, the five City Council members are:

Michael Winkler, Mayor 
Paul Pitino, Vice-Mayor
Susan Ornelas, Council Member
Sofia Pereira, Council Member
Mark Wheetley, Council Member

Meetings & Agendas

The City Council holds regular meetings on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber in City Hall. Special meetings are held as deemed necessary. All meetings, except closed sessions, are open and public pursuant to the Ralph M. Brown Act. The City Council follows Rosenberg’s Rules of Order for parliamentary procedure. Because the formal process for conducting City Council proceedings is not always familiar to the general public, the City Council developed A Public Speaker's Guide to Addressing the City Council. Watch Meetings Live or watch On Demand here and view agendas complete with staff reports and other materials.

Role of City Council Members

The Arcata City Council is composed of five members elected at large by the citizens of Arcata to be the legislative policy-making branch of city government. The Council directs the course of local government through its power to adopt ordinances, levy taxes, award contracts, and appoint certain city officers, commissions, and committees. 

The Council members earn a salary of $484.67 per month, and also receive monthly benefits for medical, dental and vision insurance. Council members are also eligible to participate in the Public Employees' Retirement System, CalPERS.

City Council members serve as the City’s representative to the following county or inter-jurisdictional agencies: 

  • Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, Water Quality Task Force
  • Humboldt Bay Working Waterfront Opportunities Committee  
  • Humboldt County Association of Governments
  • Humboldt-Del Norte Hazardous Waste Materials Response Joint Powers Authority
  • Humboldt Transit Authority
  • Humboldt Waste Management Authority
  • Indian Gaming Fund Committee
  • League of California Cities, Redwood Empire Division, Legislative Committee
  • Leabue of California Cities, Redwood Empire Division, Business Meetings
  • Redwood Coast Energy Authority
  • Redwood Region Economic Development Commission
  • HSU/City Liaisons   
  • Arcata Chamber of Commerce
  • Arcata Downtown Business Community-Arcata Main Street
  • Arcata House Partnership
  • Arcata/Camoapa Sister City Committee
  • Friends of the Arcata Marsh

The City Council appoints the City Manager and City Attorney.  The goals and policies  set forth annually by the City Council (Goals and Priority Projects) are carried out by the City Manager who administers the daily affairs of the City and supervises the department heads.   City Departments include City Manager, Community Development, Environmental Services, Finance, Police, and Public Works.

 The City Council makes appointments to the following City commissions, committees, boards and task forces:


  • 2014/15 General Fund Budget Task Force
  • Historic and Design Review Commission
  • Planning Commission
  • Economic Development Committee
  • Energy Committee
  • Forest Management Committee
  • Historic Landmarks Committee
  • Open Space and Agriculture Committee
  • Parks and Recreation Committee
  • Transactions and Use Tax Oversight Committee
  • Transportation Safety Committee
  • Wetlands and Creeks Committee
  • Board of Permit Appeals
  • Handicapped Access Appeals Board


Elected officials are required to comply with state ethics laws, conflict of interest regulations and disclosure, and all requirements related to open meeting laws. 

City Council Protocol Manual