Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 4.29.2010


The Springfield Seven
Vacancy draws mixed crowd of contenders
story by Ted Taylor | photo by Todd Cooper

Pat Riggs-Henson

Bill Dwyer’s decision last year to retire from the Lane County Board of Commissioners set in motion a buzz of activity and speculation in the Springfield district. In addition to the seven people who ended up on the primary ballot, many others likely contemplated running. Commissioners have the power to affect changes that impact our future, being on the board can be a step to higher elected office, the commission has some prestige, and the salary of $73,000 plus benefits for four years is attractive in this economy.

The candidates for Springfield District 2 in alphabetical order are Mark Callahan, Patrick Hurley, Sid Leiken, Joe Pishioneri, Dave Ralston, Pat Riggs-Henson and Mike Tayloe. (Sen. Bill Morrisette dropped out of the race early on for health reasons and endorsed Riggs-Henson.)

Most of the candidates are not on the record talking about land use issues, and yet that’s mostly what the commissioners deal with on a daily basis. And only three, Riggs-Henson, Callahan and Taloe, responded to a short EW questionnaire about environmental issues facing the county. The information below is from various sources including websites, Voters’ Pamphlet statements, interviews, media reports and videotaped Q&As conducted by David Igl for Community Access TV. Watch all 17 candidates on the Alison & Hill Investment Advisors website at 

Callahan, an Independent, is unemployed by Symantec as a senior technical support engineer. He has a degree in business administration but no prior governmental experience. He is not against herbicide spraying on county lands but said spraying should be “environmentally safe to the people that may live in the area.” He supports Extension Service funding. He favors expansion of the urban growth boundary (UGB) “within reason and moderation.” He is OK with tax breaks given to recruit business and industry to the county, but he doesn’t want to attract “another Hynix” that will come and go. He said he could not afford the $600 fee to be in the Voters Pamphlet but has a website at

Hurley, a Democrat, is a real estate broker with 22 years prior experience in the timber industry and no governmental experience. He favors growth, recruiting new business and industry and increased timber harvesting through selective cutting. “We need to bring in more green jobs, solar manufacturing, and re-energize the timber industry,” he said. To boost Springfield area tourism and business, he wants to recreate the old “Gateway Arch” over the McKenzie Highway. His website is 

Leiken, a Republican, is the third-term mayor of Springfield and says he’s running at the request of his supporters. He comes from a timber industry family and backs economic development through “capitalizing on our people power.” He has long favored expansion of Springfield’s UGB and supported legislation that forced a break-up of joint Eugene/Springfield land use planning. He has name recognition as mayor of Springfield, but he also carries political baggage from a recent campaign finance scandal, his dropping out of the congressional race against Peter DeFazio, his earlier moves to unseat Bill Dwyer, potential conflicts of interest regarding Glenwood development, and his association with the Tea Party and Sarah Palin. His website is

Pishioneri, a Republican, is a Springfield city councilor and has served on numerous finance and economic development boards and committees, and the McKenzie Watershed Council. He has been a deputy sheriff for more than 20 years and said he was “instrumental in the creation of the Springfield Justice Center.” “If people don’t feel safe,” he said, “they won’t invest to create jobs.” He said local government’s function is “to not create jobs, but look at the barriers to good growth and assist the private sector in creating jobs.” He has racked up a long list of endorsements, including numerous current and former mayors and council members around the county. His website is

Riggs-Henson, a Democrat, is retired from the Lane County Workforce Network and has an extensive leadership background in public service, including 14 years on the LCC Board. She favors alternatives to herbicides and lauds the Siuslaw National Forest model of sustainable forest management. She supports funding of the Extension Service and appears neutral on expansion of UGBs and Seneca’s biomass plant. She is the only candidate endorsed in this race by the Oregon League of Conversation Voters, labor groups, Congressman Peter DeFazio and Sen. Bill Morrisette. She is the only woman out of 17 total commission candidates. Her website is

Ralston, a Republican, is a CAD programmer for Farwest Steel and serves on the Springfield City Council. He has also served on the Joint Planning Commission and numerous other agency and community boards. He “wants to bring back sanity and accountability to Lane County government,” and said the county can create jobs and affordable housing by expanding the UGB. “We’re dying economically,” he said. “Government needs to stay out of business’s way.” Ralston got a lot of press attention in 2006 for his disparaging statements about Latinos and illegal immigrants. One national columnist wrote that Ralston’s views were based on inaccurate and racist translations and “totally asinine” conspiracy theories (see Ralston’s website is 

Tayloe, a Libertarian, is a CPA and former director of Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative. He would like to see commissioners elected countywide to provide more accountability and believes county government should not obstruct development. Regarding timber management, he favors “responsible harvesting to maintain our employment and tax base,” including a mix of private and public land harvests. Regarding herbicide spraying, he said, “I appreciate the concerns of citizens fearful of exposure to these chemicals. I can support them in avoiding the use of these products provided they provide the funding for the incremental costs associated with alternative treatments.” He is undecided on Extension Service funding, favors the Seneca biomass plant, and says “the determination of our UGBs is a matter of law” and is not discretionary. His website is 


Lane County Commission Races:

Rust Runs Again Faces Tea Party Republican for commission seat

The Springfield Seven Vacancy draws mixed crowd of contenders

Will the Rich Guy Win? The race isn’t over ’til the East Lane commissioner sings