Before a crowd of meeting attendees – some for and some against the recall of Mayor Peter Arth and Vice Mayor Mario Rubino – the Dunsmuir City Council voted last Thursday to approve a resolution calling for the recall election. It will be consolidated with the November General Election.

Before a crowd of meeting attendees – some for and some against the recall of Mayor Peter Arth and Vice Mayor Mario Rubino – the Dunsmuir City Council voted last Thursday to approve a resolution calling for the recall election. It will be consolidated with the November General Election.

The resolution went before the council for approval after the two recall proponent groups successfully gathered a sufficient number of signatures on recall petitions for Arth and Rubino.

The recall of the two council members was spurred by the council’s vote to approve multi-year water and wastewater rate increases. In Arth’s case, his previous efforts to establish a downtown medical marijuana greenhouse further ignited the recall effort.

The rate increases are intended to generate revenue to make payments on a $5.319 million USDA loan that the city is currently applying for to begin water and sewer infrastructure improvements.

The fee hikes prompted the founding of Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir, a group that is facilitating ongoing fundraising efforts to retain an attorney to challenge the legality of the rate increases.

During last week’s council meeting, Arth and Rubino maintained that the current council inherited the problem of aging water and sewer infrastructure.

Rubino stated that citizens are paying the price for the previous mismanagement of city affairs by former councils and administrations.

Arth said that people cannot “wish away” years of former councils not addressing the infrastructure needs.

Sandy Raine and Nick Mitchell, two recall proponents and members of Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir, spoke against the council’s decision to raise rates. Raine commented that the council should have approached the infrastructure improvements on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than take on such a large debt.

Others at the meeting expressed an understanding of the need to raise rates, and they spoke in opposition of the recall.
“As vocal as citizens have been in opposition to the rate increases, I just want people to understand – that is not the only voice in town,” said council member Cherie DuPertuis. She noted that she has been thanked by many people in the community for the council’s decision to address the infrastructure problems.

Patty Hill, who was born and raised in Dunsmuir, said the community is divided because of the recall and rate increase issue. “I am sorry to see these divisions,” she said, noting that she is “pleased” with the members of the council that she knows personally. “I am asking everybody to look deep into their hearts and understand that we have great people here.”

Hill said that the two public hearings on the rate increases were heavily attended by those opposed to them, and not by those who recognized a need for them.

Regarding the implementation of the rate hikes, Hill added, “The motto in my family is, ‘suck it up.’”

Jacky Bowers, who recently moved to Dunsmuir, said she observed her neighbor’s removal of old water pipes and explained that the pipes were halfway filled with rust. She said that rate increases and subsequent improvements are necessary to ensure that Dunsmuir’s water remains the best on earth.

Wendy Crist, who has resided in the area for 16 years, said, “I think that this is the most fruitful council I have seen in 16 years.” Crist noted some of Arth’s accomplishments since he began serving on council in 2008:

• Arth helped lead a task force to obtain $1 million in state and federal grant funds for the College of the Siskiyous’ green jobs program.
• He has embarked on an ongoing effort with Pacific Power and the Public Utilities Commission to offer a solar incentive program in the county. This would allow customers who install solar panels to utilize net metering technology, a feature that will give customers the option to sell excess generated power back to the utility company.
• Arth and the other council members have worked with city manager Jim Lindley to gain the water rights back from Coca Cola so they may be sold to a new buyer for Dunsmuir’s old bottling plant – an enterprise that Arth said during a follow-up interview could bring 30 to 40 jobs to Dunsmuir.  

Crist stated that the work of the current council “not only benefits the community, but the whole south county.”

“I am very distressed by this recall effort,” said DuPertuis, adding that she sees the recall option as something intended to give citizens a voice when there has been serious wrongdoing and unethical behavior, which she believes Rubino and Arth have continuously fought against during their time on the council. “They are two of the most highly ethical men that I have ever worked with,” she said.

DuPertuis also stated that Rubino puts in the hours to research city issues to come to informed decisions about city business matters.

During a follow-up interview, she noted that Rubino was instrumental in negotiating increased services at a much lower cost when the city recently renewed its contract with Sheriff’s Department.

Council member Ed Steele pointed out that when Arth and Rubino submitted their candidacy paperwork in 2008, they were elected by default. There was not an election because nobody wanted to run against them to take on the responsibility of being a part of the city government.

“Some of us stood up and got involved,” said Rubino. He added that he would have liked to run against another candidate in the election, and that he finds the common misconception in Dunsmuir that he and Arth were appointed to be “very upsetting.”