Democracy in action: Fort Bragg debates its name

Jun 23, 2020

Outside the public hearing in Fort Bragg on Monday evening, June 22
Credit Sarah Reith

"Where to start?" asked Fort Bragg Mayor Will Lee on Monday night, after more than three hours of public testimony about whether to change the town's name. He and other City Council members debated briefly on their course of action, looking for a way to address diverse local input about a name that honors an unpopular confederate general, and refers to a fort established to "subdue" the indigenous population of the area in the mid 1850s. Vice mayor Bernie Norvell suggested substituting Union General Edward Bragg for the much-derided Braxton Bragg. Councilwoman Jessica Morsell-Haye favored a citizen commission to consider the question. Councilman Lindy Peters said those who want to change the name should use the initiative process, which would not get the question on the November ballot because of time constraints.  Mayor Lee bemoaned the fact that no one spoke on behalf of the Latino population, which makes up one-third of Fort Bragg. They decided on the citizen commission, entrusted to Morsell-Haye to recruit from the Pomo and Latino populations, as well as others, and bring a plan back to the council.