After 10 years on the Springfield City Council, Councilor Sheri Moore is retiring. For years, Moore has been the left-leaning councilor on the nonpartisan City Council, but two candidates in the runoff race want to bring more change to the city.
Kori Rodley says she wants to incentivize more development like what happened on Main Street throughout the city and protect businesses impacted by COVID-19. Johanis Tadeo says he wants to encourage more civic engagement with underrepresented communities and hold police accountable.
But whoever wins the race will bring diversity that has been missing from Springfield’s City Council: either the perspective of the city’s growing Latinx population or the LGBTQ community.
Rodley currently serves on the city’s budget committee and went through the Oregon Emerge program, which trains Democratic women to run for public office. She works at United Way as the equity and engagement manager. If elected, she would be the first lesbian to serve on the council.
Rodley says she’s comfortable with how to push a lot of progressive ideas in a mixed group of people. “I always focus on the systems and processes and how to make these lasting changes,” she adds.
She says everyone in the city is proud of downtown’s revitalization. The renovation of Main Street took years to accomplish as well as businesses working in tandem with the patented “Team Springfield,” a name for the super-group collaboration of Springfield School District, Willamalane Park and Recreation District, Springfield Utility Board and the city.
But it’s going to take more energy to push that development throughout the city, she says. “Having a focused council that isn’t wavering or latching onto one project is going to be really important,” she says.
She says her dream is for the city to have more “livable neighborhoods,” meaning areas that are more low-volume traffic and affordable. She says it would require some creative partnerships and incentives, but she’d like to see more of what has worked downtown in other areas of Springfield.
As COVID-19 continues to devastate the local economy, Rodley says the city should try to help small and medium businesses. “The role of the city could be to remove barriers, create incentives and really dig into those partnerships to really bring resources in,” she says.
Rodley has the endorsements of Moore, Springfield City Councilor Leonard Stoehr, Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr and state Rep. Marty Wilde, as well as organized labor like UFCW Local 555, AFL-CIO Lane County Central Labor Chapter and Joint Council of Teamsters. Her largest contribution is $1,000 from Lane Professional Firefighters Association.
Tadeo is a community organizer with Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC)’s Springfield for Equity and Respect program. He’s been active in working with community members to make the city acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day, force an end of a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and protest police brutality.
“We need our voices to be heard,” Tadeo says. “We need to find and create policies that support our communities.”
Tadeo says if elected, he wants to show the community how to create policy and break down the black box that is the City Council. He says when he first got involved at the city, he struggled to navigate city hall and who to talk to about certain issues, like challenging the ICE contract.
Springfield caught the state’s attention July 29 when Springfield Police Department (SPD) had a heavy-handed reaction to protesters at a march in the Thurston neighborhood. Rodley says the city’s response with an external investigation into the incident is the minimum, and it was a decision that took too long.
Tadeo says what separates the two candidates is that he is pushing for more civic engagement for all communities in town. He adds that when so many people are watching Springfield as it appoints a new mayor and the Thurston police investigation, many people want to know how to engage with the city’s leaders.
“It’s important to hear from all residents and for all residents, especially the underrepresented and marginalized communities, to feel safe to come to the city chambers and feel like they can address an issue,” he says. “Once these folks feel like they can trust some of these institutions, then that’s when we can start getting to the conversation of what needs to be able to change in Springfield.”
He says the city needs a police complaint system where the community feels heard. “A lot of the time, the people who put in a complaint aren’t heard,” he adds.
Tadeo says he wants to build a bridge between SPD and the community so the police can see them as human. And police should be easily identifiable while on duty so they can be held accountable in case anything goes wrong, he adds.
Tadeo’s endorsements include Councilors Steve Moe and Sean VanGordon, Springfield school board chair Zach Bessett and board member Emilio Hernandez Jr. Tadeo’s contributions have been mostly small donations under $100, according to OreStar.
Tadeo says win or lose, he wants his campaign to serve as a blueprint for future Latinx candidates. Springfield’s Hispanic population is 11.9 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 data.
“I always thought there would be another person of color to pave the way, but I was tired of waiting,” Tadeo says. “So I put my name on the list and I hope to inspire other Latinx folks and underrepresented folks.”