See You in November

Oregon's Primary Election has low turnout and brings fall runoff elections

Eugene City Councilor-elect Matt Keating via Democratic Party of Lane County's Zoom party

With unofficial voter turnout for the May 2020 primary election at around 40 percent in Lane County, it’s hard to believe that this is a presidential election cycle. Then again it’s a COVID-19 election. 

Of course, former Vice President Joe Biden won the majority of Oregon’s delegates to take on President Donald Trump in November. In Lane County, official results show voters passed the Lane Community College bond measure, Eugene re-elected its incumbent mayor and its City Council could see three new faces in 2021. However, some seats need November runoff elections. 

Mayor Lucy Vinis won re-election with 67 percent support. She says that her second term will be about seeing through the changes that she’s laid the groundwork for — like establishing the city’s Climate Action Plan 2.0, tackling the housing crisis and following the TAC report on homelessness. 

The pandemic might have thrown a wrench in her plans, but Vinis says it shined a light on the city’s inequalities, and the defining endeavor of her second term will be economic recovery. She says the city has to reinvest in the economy, like housing and infrastructure. 

Most of Vinis’s challengers were united under the Solidarity Platform all of whom wanted to force a mayoral runoff election. Vinis says that she’s heard some of those candidates at past City Council meetings, and she agrees with them that the city needs to have more urgency in tackling and addressing homelessness. 

Asked how she would encourage the candidates to get involved with the government, Vinis says there’s a need for ideas on Eugene’s committees and boards. 

LCC’s bond measure passed with 58 percent, giving the OK to renovate the college’s buildings and address career and technical education programs. During the pandemic, there’s been a lot of support for health care workers and other front line workers, and LCC Board of Education member Rosie Pryor says that she thinks that the campaign captured some of that energy. 

She adds that while she and other LCC supporters were canvassing digitally for the bond measure, she found that many voters had a connection with the college — whether it was through knowing a staff member or attending the college. 

And when the local economy one day starts its recovery path, she says that the bond money will go toward career technical education jobs and that can help everyday Lane residents retrain. 

Now outgoing LCC Board Member Matt Keating says that the big part of the bond measure is that the college’s construction work will require community benefit agreements, prioritizing local, living wage jobs and a diverse workforce. 

Having won his campaign to succeed outgoing Councilor Betty Taylor in Ward 2, Keating says he wants to see CBAs at the city level, too. He says COVID-19 changed everything and the City Council needs to think hard about its priorities. He plans to collaborate with county commissioners and federal agencies to ensure the city secures money for its services. 

Although the virus changed campaigning, he says he’s never felt more connected with the community by using social media, making more than 20,000 phone calls and handwriting personal notes. 

Rep. Peter DeFazio will go on to November to face Republican challenger Alek Skarlatos. 

At the Democratic Party of Lane County’s Facebook Live party, DeFazio said Democrats have to keep the House of Representatives and most importantly get the “bozo” out of the White House. He added that if Democrats take over Washington, he has an infrastructure bill more ambitious than President Franklin Roosevelt’s plans. 

Some local political offices will need a runoff election in November. Unofficial results show Laurie Trieger leading with 43 percent, but she didn’t secure the win to represent south Eugene on the Lane County Board of County Commissioners. Joel Iboa, who secured 36 percent of the vote, will take her on in November.

In the Eugene City Council race, Councilor Emily Semple received 39 percent but will face challenger Eliza Kashinsky in a runoff election. 

Although Springfield voters re-elected Christine Lundberg for another term, the Springfield Ward 3 race narrowed down to Kori Rodley and Johanis Tadeo. Incumbent Joe Pishioneri will serve another term after defeating Gregg Ybarra. 

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