At 23, Matt Moore is the youngest of the four candidates hoping to succeed Pete Sorenson on the Lane County Board of County Commissioners. But don’t let age make you think that he’s not ready for leadership. In fact, he says it’s a huge opportunity.
“A lot of people in my generation are incredibly disaffected by politics right now,” he says. “They want to see people of our generation running for office, and they want to see people who speak to the issues that they care about in a genuine way.”
Moore wants to give back to his hometown through leadership on the Lane County Board of County Commissioners. He wants to see the climate crisis taken on seriously and to plug the brain drain that’s causing a loss of local talent. He thinks permanent supportive housing is the most cost-effective solution for homelessness. But more importantly, he says COVID-19 has exposed the gaps in county services, and he’s the guy who can reinvent the board in the post-pandemic era.
In 2019, Moore graduated from University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics and moved back to Eugene, his hometown. He says Penn is known for sending a large percentage of its alumni to Wall Street, but that lifestyle didn’t fit him. Instead, he wanted to return to the community that invested in him.
Upon his homecoming, he says he was disheartened to see the area still dealing with the same issues it had been before he left for college. So, he says, he decided to run for office to make change. He’s had some endorsements come out for his campaign, including by the University of Oregon College Democrats, by state Sen. Arnie Roblan of Coos Bay and by Nora Kent, who challenged Commissioner Jay Bozieich in the 2018 primary election and now sits on the Lane Education Service District Board. In the May election, he’s running against Joel Iboa, Laurie Trieger and Sandra Bishop.
Moore went to South Eugene High School with Kelsey Juliana, who led the Our Children’s Trust climate change lawsuit against the U.S. and he says he talked with her to learn more about climate action. He says she has shown him how everything is linked with climate change and how the climate crisis effects aren’t temperature-related — like mass migration.
With the county’s climate action plan, Moore says if it treats climate as an individual problem, it won’t be successful because it needs to get industry to change, too, and that can happen with economic incentives.
“A lot of people might change because it’s the green thing to do but a lot of people will do what’s convenient,” he says. “We need to find ways to make what’s most convenient the green choice. That’s how we get the most people and industries to change.”
One of the issues that Moore was disappointed to see was still unsolved in the area upon his return was homelessness. He says permanent supportive housing like the MLK Commons is the best solution for the unhoused, and it’s the most cost-effective for the county.
But solving housing shortages and homelessness requires a two-pronged approach. He says that the county needs to reduce the demand for low-income housing by fostering an economy with more living wage jobs. But there also needs to be more housing units built to bring down costs.
Growing up in Eugene, Moore says a lot of people he went to high school with have since moved on to larger cities like Portland, San Francisco and Seattle because there aren’t any career opportunities here. Although Lane County has the UO, it suffers from brain drain because people can’t find living wage jobs.
“That’s because we have a tendency to give tax breaks to corporations that are only here for a couple of years until they find a bigger tax break,” he says. “We need to start supporting the local business community that will actually invest in our community and stay here long term.”
That’s how Lane County can tackle its brain drain problem, and it can accomplish that by investing in a 21st-century economy and rewarding the businesses that stay invested in the community, he says.
Rather than using tax breaks to attract out-of-area companies, Moore says mechanisms like tax deferments can help small businesses that are experiencing cash flow problems. When those businesses gain traction, then they can pay back the community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up a lot of gaps in the county’s services, Moore says. One of those gaps is how much the county spends on public health; it only spends 3 percent on preventable services, he says. And, based on his conversation with Dr. Patrick Luedtke, the county’s health officer, Moore says that money should be flexible in how it’s spent.
“The need for someone with an economic understanding of the economy has grown because we’ll be dealing with the economic fallout for years,” he says. “It’s time for someone to come in with a different perspective who’s well versed in the policy issues, is ready to innovate and do things a little differently and fix and update these antiquated systems.”