Susan Ornelas, Mayor

About Susan Ornelas

Arcata's forward-thinking environmental management and economic development strategies are an inspiration for me, as they are for many people and communities. I have lived in Arcata since 1987 and raised two children while attending and then teaching at Humboldt State University. While Arcata is on the progressive side of many issues from wastewater management to community forestry, there is still work to be done.

My community interests are to continue to guide policy toward a sustainable future. To improve local opportunities, I am willing to study the issues, listen to community concerns, and make decisions to benefit the people. I will work to keep Arcata healthy, livable, bikeable, energy efficient and friendly.

Arcata City Council Service

  • Council Member: 2008-present
  • Mayor: 2011
  • Vice-Mayor: 2010
  • Mayor: 2017


  • Executive Director, Jacoby Creek Land Trust


  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering - Water Quality Emphasis
  • Master of Science in Environmental Systems - International Development Technology

Member of City & Regional Committees

  • City Council Representative to the Humboldt County Association of Governments (2017, 2011-2015)
  • City Council Liaison to Humboldt State University/City Liaisons Working Group (2017, Alternate in 2016)
  • Alternate City Council Liaison to the Arcata/Camoapa Sister City Committee (2017, Liaison in 2012-2014)
  • Alternate City Council Liaison to Friends of the Arcata Marsh Board (2017, Liaison in 2016)

Other Community Service

  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers (2008-present)

Private Sector Accomplishments

  • Advisor University of California Davis Extension / Hoopa
    • Native American Agriculture
    • Natural Resource/4-H Youth Program
  • Consultant for:
    • Agriculture and Conservation Easement-United Indian Health Services Potawot Village
    • Specialty Agriculture Development, County of Humboldt
    • Turkmenistan and Jamaica, West Indies
    • U.S. Aid for International Development-Agriculture
  • Past Co-Owner Willow Creek Farms
  • Project Manager, Arcata Educational Farm
  • Research Engineer, Schatz Energy Research Center
  • Teaching Lecturer, Humboldt State University
    • Restoration Practices
    • Sustainable Agriculture

Past Community Service

  • City Council Liaison to the Arcata Chamber of Commerce (2013-2016)
  • Alternate City Council Representative to the Humboldt-Del Norte Hazardous Materials Response JPA (2012-2016, Representative in 2010)
  • City Council Representative to the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, Water Quality Task Force (2012-2014, 2016 Alternate in 2011, 2015)
  • Alternate City Council Representative to the Redwood Region Economic Development Commission (2013)
  • City Council Liaison to the Arcata Downtown Business Community - Main Street (2009-10, 2016)
  • City Council Liaison to the HSU/City Liaisons Group (2011)
  • City Council Liaison to the Sister City Committee (2009)
  • City Council Representative to the Indian Gaming Fund Committee (2009, 2012-2016)
  • City Council Representative to the Legislative Committee of the League of California Cities-Redwood Empire Division (2011)
  • City Council Representative to Redwood Coast Energy Authority (2010, 2012-2014, 2016, Alternate 2015) 
  • Humboldt County Agricultural Advisory Board (1997-present)
  • Humboldt County Food Policy Coalition (2002-04)
  • North Coast Growers Association (1987-1991)
  • Open Space and Agriculture Committee (1999-2008)
  • Arcata Foundation (1991-1995)
  • Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (1993-2002)


  • Leadership Program in Sustainable Food Systems, University of California, Santa Cruz (1993-95)
  • Switzer Fellowship and Leadership Program, Switzer Foundation (1997, 2002)