For 12 years, the Springfield Ward 5 seat has gone uncontested. But the seat long held by City Councilor Marilee Woodrow is open after her decision to retire from the council.
The two candidates vying for the Springfield City Council seat — Mark Molina and Victoria Doyle — are both concerned about an upcoming major safety project in Springfield that would see nine roundabouts on Main Street, potentially affecting their ward’s local businesses. The race is nonpartisan, but Doyle’s support stems from conservative backers and Molina’s is liberal-leaning.
Springfield’s Ward 5 runs east of 42nd Street to Bob Straub Parkway and from High Banks Road to Jasper Road. Unlike Eugene, where only residents of the wards vote in the race, all of Springfield votes in each ward’s election. Before the seat was held by Woodrow, her husband, John Woodrow, had represented the ward since his election in 1998.
Doyle says she wants to represent the ward like Woodrow has done. She says she’ll conduct outreach with the public to help them understand city projects and wants to see development in Glenwood that would make it a destination and not just a place to drive through.
Molina says it’s time for Springfield to have a Latino on its board. If elected, he says he wants to work with the council to find creative ways to increase the city’s housing stock because without housing units, the city will have trouble attracting businesses to invest in Springfield. And with Springfield’s Latino population at 11 percent — and growing — he says it’s time that a Latino is elected to the council.
“They’re business owners. They are college graduates,” Molina says of the Latino community. “The last few years, Springfield [high schools] had a lot of success on the football field and 25 percent of those rosters that went to state were Hispanic players.”
In 2020, Molina was elected to the Springfield Utility Board, and has served on committees including the Springfield Budget Committee, Willamalane Park and Recreation Budget Committee and the city’s police planning task force. In 2006, Molina ran for the Ward 2 City Council seat but lost to Hillary Wylie, who held the seat until 2018.
Main Street is one of the least-safe streets in Oregon based on traffic crashes, the city of Springfield and the Oregon Department of Transportation reported in its January 2022 Main Street Safety Project draft document. As part of its plan to address traffic safety, the plan recommends several roundabouts to reduce the number of crashes.
Molina owns the Molina Leadership Solutions business and is a pastor. Though he doesn’t lead church services, he says he still provides pastoral services such as funerals, weddings and counseling. His wife, immigration attorney Abigail Molina, works at Molina Law Group. He says with Woodrow retiring from council, the board will not have any current business owners. And with major safety improvements planned for Main Street, he says there needs to be someone on board with the perspective of owning a business there.
Doyle says she’s concerned about the Main Street safety project as well as the amount of outreach the city conducted. She says Main Street business owners told her they haven’t felt included in discussions on the developments, especially as many of them were too concentrated on surviving the pandemic to focus on the city proposal. “To say that we reached out to those businesses and didn’t receive enough feedback isn’t correct,” she says. “We need to figure out a new way to reach out to people when we’re talking about businesses being impacted so much.”
Conducting outreach on city decisions to the community is the first thing that Doyle says she wants to tackle. She says the city schedules meetings, sends out materials and does its due diligence. She says she’d model her outreach after Woodrow, who has a history of meeting with the public to talk about council action items. “We need to have that. That’s how she got all the respect she did because she really listened,” she says. “I hope to continue that, as well.”
Doyle works as a land use review assistant in the city of Eugene’s Public Works Department. Before that, she worked for her family-owned Harley-Davidson business in Springfield, so she says she has a business and union perspective. From 2011 to 2014, she was a Cottage Grove City Council member. She says she didn’t run for a second term because she and her family moved to Springfield to take care of her parents. She serves on the city’s budget committee.
Compared to other local races on the May 17 ballot that have raised tens of thousands of dollars, Doyle and Molina have raised little money, according to reported campaign contributions in OreStar. The race is nonpartisan, but Doyle’s supporters reflect more conservative interests, while Molina’s lean progressive.
Doyle has raised $12,125. Her largest contributions include $300 from Mayor Sean VanGordon, $300 from Councilor Joe Pishioneri, $1,500 from the construction company Wildish Land Company and $1,000 from archery store The Bow Rack. Her endorsements include Woodrow, former Mayor Christine Lundberg and Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing.
Molina has raised $3,567. His campaign contributions include $500 from state Rep. John Lively, $1,000 from Christian writer Sharon Musgrove and a $500 loan from Councilor Steve Moe. His endorsements include Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Val Hoyle, state Sen. Lee Beyer, Springfield City Councilor Kori Rodley and Willamalane Board member Chris Wig.
Members on Springfield’s City Council also serve on the Springfield Economic Development Agency, which has been focused on developing a swath of Glenwood riverfront property.
Doyle says she wants to see an indoor track facility in Glenwood, a project that the city has been trying to develop for years. She says Glenwood is an “untapped resource,” and that it’s a place that can be developed to connect Springfield’s downtown and Eugene’s university district. “Even though we’re two separate cities, we need to do something to really bring those together,” she says, adding she would like to see it become a place people actually want to go to but also developments that people in Springfield would feel welcome to support and not just cater to tourists.
Molina says he would like to see Springfield invest in more housing units, especially since the city has a shortage of vacant units. The housing shortage makes it difficult for the city to attract businesses, he says. “If we don’t solve our housing issue, who’s going to want to come here?”
To solve the housing shortage, Molina says the city needs to get more creative, such as continuing on Springfield’s drive to build more middle housing. “We have to think about what people can afford, how things can be constructed differently,” he says. “We can’t keep everything the same. It’s not working.”