Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 4.29.2010


Rust Runs Again
Faces Tea Party Republican for commission seat
story by Alan Pittman | photo by Todd Cooper

Rust (left) served on the County Commission for 20 years

After serving two decades on the Lane County Commission, then taking a break for a dozen years, Jerry Rust is running again for a board seat from west Lane County.

But Libertarian turned Tea Party Republican Jay Bozievich is outspending Rust in the race, so far reporting $51,000 in contributions, largely from sand and gravel, timber and development interests that stand to profit from county government decisions.

Rust, 67 with four kids and five grandkids, served as a Eugene moderate on the County Commission from 1977 to 1997. Raised on a farm in Douglas County, Rust helped create thousands of local jobs and planted hundreds of thousands of trees as a founding member of the Hoedads tree planting cooperative in the 1970s. 

Rust says he’s proud of his work on the County Commission to help save historic covered bridges, reestablish the Farmers’ Market, use the yew tree for anti-cancer drugs, create the forest work camp for inmates, implement land use planning and balance the budget.

Rust, who now lives on a small farm between Mapleton and Florence, said he’s spent a month on a listening tour to find out what West Lane residents want. If elected, Rust said he’ll promote stable public safety funding, control costs, create jobs, defend programs for public health and at-risk children and families, oppose forced annexation, protect Santa Clara farms from developers, promote tourism, promote trade with China, push for widening Highway 126 shoulders to Veneta and promote local agriculture. Rust has faulted the county for not immediately funding the jail last year. 

A former 4H kid, Rust says he supports the tax measure on the ballot to preserve county extension services. 

He said he won’t impose any new taxes but would support referring a tax to voters as a last resort if it has wide support and is needed in a budget crisis. “I think the solution is in the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.

Bozievich, 52 with no kids, works as an engineer at EWEB and grew up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs before moving to the area in 1993. 

Bozievich served on the LCC Board, where he was criticized for opposing a state measure to fund higher education and supporting concealed guns on campus. 

“I would feel safer sitting next to someone with a concealed weapons permit than a police officer,” The Register-Guard quoted Bozievich saying in 2004.

Bozievich ran unsuccessfully as a Libertarian for the state Legislature in 2002, losing 2-1, before changing his affiliation to a Republican. 

In the 2002 legislative race, Bozievich told the R-G the last book he read was Atlas Shrugged. The book, described as the bible of the far right, was written in the 1950s by a controversial anti-government atheist Ayn Rand who advocated “the virtue of selfishness.”

A 2002 R-G editorial wrote that Bozievich calls for “privatizing or eliminating many of the services offered by the state” and wants a “sales tax to replace the income, capital gains and estate taxes.” 

In 2003, Bozievich was listed as the local contact for the “Republican Liberty Caucus.” The caucus billed itself as “the conscience of the Republican Party” and published a position statement calling for abolishing Medicare, the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services (including Social Security), all estate and capital gains taxes and abolishing federal drug laws.

As local communications director of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in 2004, Bozievich accused Kerry supporters of being “terrorists” after a fight on the Ferry Street Bridge. A retired Eugene police officer and veteran for Kerry said that actually, he himself was attacked by Bush supporters, the R-G reported. 

Bozievich has frequently posted opinion pieces on the conservative blog. In 2007 he argued against cigarette taxes for children’s health care and for government payments to large developers for complying with regulations. In 2006 he wrote, “We should encourage charity, not force it upon people through laws and taxation.” In another post, Bozievich wrote that when he argued the Constitution didn’t grant any rights, his conservative friends reacted in “stunned silence.”

Last year, Bozievich dressed up in a wig and colonial soldier outfit and told local media covering an anti-tax rally he was a Tea Party organizer for the event. Bozievich was listed as the local leader of Americans for Prosperity, a national group funded to organize Tea Party rallies by the right-wing Koch oil billionaires. 

Bozievich explained why he switched from Libertarian to Republican in an article in The Lane Republican newsletter. He described himself as a “hard-core free market capitalist” who lamented that the Libertarian party offered him no funding and only a pro-medical marijuana commercial. “Why in the world would I want to run a commercial on an issue that would certainly kill my campaign?”

Bozievich appears to be distancing himself from the more controversial Libertarian views for this campaign. He said he was “not as involved in the legalized drugs portion of the Libertarian Party.”

Bozievich said he might support the right private school voucher system to replace the current public school system and said he believes Medicare is hard to change but might be better if it were privatized. 

Bozievich said he would support new tax increases for the jail if they were referred and passed in a public vote. “I think we might be able to get the people to support a tax.”

Bozievich criticizes the extension levy on the ballot as too large and said the money would have better been spent on a sheriff’s deputy with the extension funded privately. But he praised the extension’s gardening program and said, “I am going to very reluctantly vote yes.”

Bozievich also tried, unsuccessfully, to distance himself from controversial Libertarian positions in 2002. “We’re not just a bunch of wackos,” he told the R-G.

Rust and Bozievich appear to differ on urban sprawl in this campaign. Rust said he’d like to protect farmers in Santa Clara from developers. “I am confident we will draw a line in that fertile agricultural soil.”

Bozievich said “it’s hard to imagine” Eugene not needing to expand its growth boundary. 

Rust and Bozievich also differ on logging. Bozievich said the county needs more logging for more timber revenue. Rust said he’d like to see thinning re-planted forest to create jobs and generate timber revenue with bigger trees in healthier forests. “I was too successful,” Rust said about his tree planting efforts. “They’re too thick.”

To help balance the budget, Bozievich said he’d like to cut county workers’ health care and retirement benefits that he says are too generous. But he’s vague on exactly how he’d get those workers to give up their contract rights to their benefits to save the county money.

Rust has direct experience with the massive cuts to county government in the 1980s. “We laid off 500 people in one day,” he said. Rust said one of the first motions he made as a commissioner was to cut his and other commissioners’ salaries. “We tried everything.”

Rust said he’d use his relationship with Congressman Peter DeFazio to try and secure continued federal funding to avoid more big budget cuts.

DeFazio has endorsed Rust for his “deep knowledge and proven performance.” Local Republican mayors from smaller cities and towns have endorsed Bozievich.

Bozievich said he might sue the federal government if the federal spending on the county isn’t continued. “That’s an option, to actually sue the federal government.” 

Bozievich points to lawsuits by timber companies to increase logging as an example. Timber barons are among Bozievich’s largest contributors. Murphy Plywood gave $7,500, Seneca Jones Timber Company $4,180, Corry McFarland of McFarland Cascade lumber $2,500, Davidson Industries sawmill $2,500, Swanson logging and lumber $2,000, Giustina land and timber $1,250 and Rosboro lumber $1,000. The big timber companies stand to make big profits with more logging and or development with urban sprawl on their forest properties.

Wildish sand, gravel, construction and land company gave Bozievich $3,000 from its various companies. Oakridge Sand & Gravel gave $1,000. Sand and gravel companies can profit from county decisions to allow controversial gravel pits that damage farms and neighborhoods. Wildish also wants to make big profits from developing its land outside the UGB near Mount Pisgah.

Stingray Holdings, owned by developer Steve Lee, gave Bozievich $2,400. Bozievich provided expert testimony for Lee in a 2003 lawsuit Lee filed against Springfield over development regulations. The Papé construction and logging equipment company also gave Bozievich $1,000.

Rust trails Bozievich with $38,000 in contributions, mostly from small donors. Rust’s largest contributors include $5,000 from retired electrical contractor Carlos Barrera and $3,000 from the Lane County Public Works union. Philanthropist Tom Bowerman, Auto Craft Inc., winery owner Ed King, storage unit owner Charles Portia and the Progressive Americans for Democracy PAC each gave Rust $1,000.  

Rust didn’t get any money from Papé. The recent ODOT decision to rename Beltline after big campaign contributor Randy Papé despite heavy local opposition was a “big mistake,” Rust said.    


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