COVID-19 is dominating the news cycle and our daily lives, but there’s still an election — now, and again in November. And Oregon has vote by mail, so you can social distance and vote without risking your life. If anything, who our leaders are is more important than ever as the Tweeter in Chief shows he is incompetent to lead our country.
President Donald Trump is the epitome of the danger of an unproven candidate. Then again, electeds like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez show the energy and ideas we can get from those new to politics. And in this election, from the local to the federal, we find ourselves looking at the strength of incumbents versus the dynamism of the challengers.
Despite social distancing (and our distinct lack of Zoom skills) the Eugene Weekly editorial board virtually met with, talked to or heard from via questionnaire as many candidates as we could. We also looked at community participation, campaigns, social media and anything else that might affect our and the public’s opinion. If we didn’t endorse in a race, it’s because we didn’t feel we knew enough, or there was no challenger. Since this is the primary and there will be another opportunity to vote in November, when we saw candidates who we thought had equal strengths, we did a dual endorsement.
If you disagree with our endorsement, let us know in a letter — we run all the letters we can in print and will run the rest online at EugeneWeekly.com.
Thomas Hiura, Robert Patterson, Benjamin Ricker, Stacey Westover, Matthew Yook, Zondie Zinke
Emily Semple or Tim Morris
Sean Dwyer, Eliza Kashinsky, Candice King,
Daniel Liev Williams
Ward 1, which includes downtown Eugene, is a tricky position, balancing the needs of the unhoused with the needs of local businesses — which unfortunately are sometimes at odds with each other. We have endorsed Councilor Emily Semple in the past, and we still like her. She cares about homeless people and free speech but tries to listen to the frustrations of all her constituents. And she makes an excellent point about the need for continuity in COVID-19. Tim Morris, meanwhile, is about as excellent and driven a challenger as anyone could ask for. He’s young, smart and savvy, and would bring the unique perspective of an LGBT-identified person and a renter to the council.
Matt Keating is fit for the challenge of taking over Ward 2, which is perhaps the hardest Eugene City Council seat to fill. Betty Taylor — the city’s longest-serving councilor — is stepping down after 24 years. Keating will uphold the traditionally liberal values of the ward. He is a big proponent of climate change action, affordable housing and helping the homeless. A south Eugene native, Keating has a background in film, radio and television — and he has a good taste in Star Wars movies, listing the original trilogy as his top three favorites (sorry, Disney). He has also spent time working on presidential campaigns, and is currently on the Lane Community College board. Keating is knowledgeable, eager, and progressive and hopefully has taken some notes on Taylor’s success and longevity in that south Eugene seat.
Douglas Barr, Charles “Cliff” Gray
Randy Groves is the passionate, get-things-done kind of leader the city needs. With more than 30 years working for the Eugene Fire Department, including 10 of those years as chief, Groves offers progressive and practical solutions for issues facing Eugene. As chief, he merged the Eugene and Springfield fire departments and now serves on the city’s budget committee. He also has smart ideas about how to help the city and the local economy out of this global pandemic and be a leading example in climate change. While we were also impressed with the other Ward 8 candidate, Ryan Moore, because of his intelligence and experience with affordable housing and community involvement, Groves is the candidate who will get things done as the city recovers from COVID-19.
The city of Springfield’s political shift kicked off when Leonard Stoehr defeated longtime councilor (and racist) Dave Ralston through grassroots organizing in 2016. Two years later, voters narrowly rejected Sid Leiken’s bid for another term on the Lane County Board of Commissioners in exchange for political newcomer Joe Berney.
In 2020, Springfield voters have a chance to continue the trend and elect Mike Eyster for mayor. Eugene Weekly joins Eyster’s supporters — like legislators Marty Wilde, John Lively, James Manning, Jr. and councilors Sheri Moore and Stoehr. While we applaud the work Christine Lundberg has done, we agree with Eyster that it’s time to see that the rest of Springfield sees the sort of development that Main Street has seen. With Eyster’s community experience, which runs from serving on the Lane Community College Board of Directors to chair of Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, he can bring together the right group of people to get more living wage jobs in the city.
Kori Rodley or Johanis Tadeo
The race to succeed outgoing Springfield City Councilor Sheri Moore has three qualified candidates: Kori Rodley, an equity and engagement manager at United Way; Johanis Tadeo, an organizer for CALC’s SAFeR program; and homeless advocate Kris McAlister. For Ward 3, we’re dual endorsing Johanis Tadeo and Kori Rodley.
Rodley has Moore’s nod, which is important, but her qualifications go past that endorsement. Rodley has worked in nonprofit management for more than 25 years, served on county-wide boards and is currently appointed on the city’s Budget Committee. Although Main Street has seen a lot of development, Rodley says she’d like to bring together a group of entrepreneurs, developers and small businesses to see something similar grow in Mohawk and Thurston. And she says the city should be more flexible in how it allows residents to get involved.
Springfield’s Latino population is growing, yet the City Council does not have someone with a direct connection to that community. Tadeo can serve that role. As an advocate, he’s worked to organize and change the council’s policies on things like ending a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day. He says the city should work harder to meet the needs of the Latinx community, and that he has the ability to genuinely reach out to them. Tadeo has shown a capability to organize to create change.
Lane County Board of County Commissioners
South Eugene District 3
Joel Iboa or Laurie Trieger
Sandra Bishop, Matt Moore
The south Eugene seat of the Lane County Board of Commissioners is lucky to have such a strong group of progressives seeking to succeed longtime Commissioner Pete Sorenson. Matt Moore is the youngest in the field, and he’s one of the more energetic candidates. We hope to see him run for future seats because he’s not afraid to dive into the weeds of wonky policy. Sandra Bishop’s experience on the EWEB Board lends her the background for meaningful change. But Eugene Weekly says you can’t go wrong with either Laurie Trieger or Joel Iboa on the seat.
Trieger has the endorsement of County Chair Heather Buch, and during a pandemic, Trieger’s public health framework makes a lot of sense — and when she says the county can allow staff to work remotely more often for more flexibility for at-home duties like child care, we believe her, since so many workers are telecommuting right now.
We like Iboa because he carries with him an ability to build networks to fight for social justice. Through his organizing skills, we could see him using a progressive army to fight for climate action, better jobs and more.
North Eugene District 4
Sometimes we want to shake things up, other times we see the strength of the incumbent. Pat Farr has a tendency to sway the way the wind blows — he leans right when the board leans that way and left when the board goes that way. There’s nothing wrong with getting along with the other commissioners, but attorney Andrew Ross is ready to stir things up a bit. And with longtime commissioner Pete Sorenson stepping down, it doesn’t hurt to have a legal mind on the board. Ross is a bit of a character, but he cares deeply about certain issues, including reducing the county’s carbon footprint and preserving natural areas. He tells EW that the county shouldn’t be trying to lure businesses to the area through tax cuts because in the end the county will always be outbid by Midwest states that can cut more taxes than Lane County or Oregon. And he’s not afraid to raise money through bonds to increase social services that have been cut over the years — we are overdue to strengthen county services.
Patty Perlow’s experience and support from the justice community makes this one a slam dunk.
Yes on LCC Bond
Increasing property taxes doesn’t sound attractive right now as COVID-19 has shut down the economy, but demand for community college courses spike in a recession — as we saw during the 2008 Great Recession. And this bond supports the sort of jobs we need during the current crisis: Most of the funds would go toward funding the college’s very needed career and technical education and workforce retraining. The bond doesn’t tax property owners terribly, either; it boils down to about $3 a month for the average homeowner. The state has pledged to chip in $8 million, too. In short, Lane Community College President Marge Hamilton sums it up best when she tells EW about a conversation with a rural voter: “Your family needs our nurses and our welders and our carpenters.”
Secretary of State
Mark Hass, Jamie McLeod-Skinner
The Democrats running for Oregon secretary of state all have similar proposals: They want the office’s auditing to include looking at agency greenhouse gas emissions, they want to take on misinformation and they plan to stick around in the office. It’s not an easy choice, but we’re going with Sen. Shemia Fagan in May because she’s best suited to challenge Timber Unity supporter Sen. Kim Thatcher of Keizer. A 38-year-old state senator and civil rights attorney from Portland, Fagan is a force. AFSCME and other powerful labor unions are backing her, and she certainly is one of Oregon’s most progressive politicians.
Sen. Mark Hass does have a remarkable record as a legislator and has passed landmark legislation like the Student Success Act and has challenged politics as usual in asking the Democratic Party of Oregon to open its primaries). Fagan likewise has an impressive progressive legislative record and isn’t afraid to take on the status quo: She voted “no” on choosing Senate President Peter Courtney back in 2019.
Although Jamie McLeod-Skinner does make a good point that she has the infrastructure to win the general election from her time challenging outgoing Rep. Greg Walden, Fagan grew up poor in eastern Oregon, offering her a unique perspective for a legislator. Oregon’s first-ever woman governor, Barbara Roberts, called her a “once-in-a-generation leader,” and that best sums up our view on Fagan.
Congress, 4th District
We need our savvy, seasoned congressman from Springfield more than ever in Washington, D.C. As chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, DeFazio will lead the planning to put Americans back to work. The big race we need to focus on is in November when DeFazio and likely Republican challenger Alek Skarlatos face off. We support young Democrats like Doyle Canning jumping into politics, and appreciate the attention she has brought to climate change and look forward to seeing campaigns from her in the future. Right now, in the Trump and COVID-19 era, our congressman with experience and powerful seniority needs to win big in November.
Democratic Presidential Primary
Joe Biden, but it would have been much more fun to have an actual race.