The residents of Eugene’s Ward 7, which includes an area containing Santa Clara, River Road, Trainsong and the Whiteaker neighborhood, will decide Sept. 6 whether to keep or recall Eugene City Councilor Claire Syrett, who’s serving as the council president this year.
Because today is election eve for the recall, here are readers sharing their views on the election.
If you’re looking for reporting on the race, here is Eugene Weekly’s first story on the recall getting enough signatures for an election, an overview of the race and former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury talking about the election in an interview with EW.
DON’T LIKE SYRETT? RUN AGAINST HER
The citizens of Ward 7 have been duped by a combination of climate deniers and irate opportunists into a misuse of the recall process. Dislike of a councilor is not a basis for removal from office. Those who object to Syrett should run for her seat. Until then, don’t let anger overrule common sense. As a former City Councilor for Ward 7, despite disagreeing with Syrett on many issues, I will be voting “no” on her recall.
SUPPORT SYRETT AND PUBLIC TRANSIT
Please no recall! We are so fortunate to have City Councilor Claire Syrett giving our community a chance for the needed transit. This is an important first step to reduce carbon and lower our pollution.
RECALLING SYRETT WOULD BE A VICTORY FOR DEMOCRACY
Eugene City Councilor Claire Syrett is facing a recall for good reasons. She is part of a strident cabal of real estate development interests that want to exploit Eugene neighborhoods. She favored three-story quadplexes on tiny lots with no parking for all Eugene neighborhoods. She doesn’t want any regulations to protect trees or open space or to preserve neighborhood livability — just maximized developer profits.
She is facing a recall because of her disrespect and apparent disdain for the residents of Eugene she is supposed to be representing. She tries to claim that those who disagree with her are just a vocal minority who should be ignored. In reality, she represents the tiny minority of wealthy business interests. The public record is clear on this. In the lead-up to the middle housing fiasco, 86 percent of all emails to the council were ordinary citizens opposed to the city’s radical plan. The other 14 percent that she caters to were mostly business interests — developers, architects, and realtors.
Recalling Syrett will be a victory for local democracy. Ideally this will be followed by campaign finance reforms that limit the influence of special interests and encourage broader representation by our elected officials.
RECALL IS A WASTE OF MONEY
The recall campaign regarding Ward 7 City Councilor Claire Syrett is a waste of money, a misuse of the recall process and an affront to our democratic processes. Individuals who do not live in Ward 7 have launched this campaign, targeting Syrett, a public servant who has served faithfully for over ten years, and previously volunteered her time with many local organizations.
There is no dereliction of duty on her part. Only the fear mongering and outright misinformation perpetrated by a few loud individuals who seemingly oppose public transportation planning efforts and spitefully have decided to target one individual. This recall election is a waste of taxpayer dollars! Don’t let them get away with this! Support Syrett. Remember to vote in this special election, and to vote “no” on this recall.
SYRETT AND FOES BOTH FAIL TO GRASP THE FUTURE
Both sides of the public discussions about recalling Councilor Claire Syrett and the proposed River Road MX busway ignore two critical factors fundamental to transportation planning.
First, a new public transit line needs intelligent urban design to make best use of the investment. Unfortunately, the city of Eugene still rubber-stamps plans for big box stores, franchises and other ugliness. The west Eugene MX busway has two stops that have recently had 7-11 franchise stores with gas stations built, which is not “transit oriented development.” These stops are at Bailey Hill and 6th/Garfield.
Meanwhile there is no public discussion of plans to widen Beltline across the river to up to 16 lanes. SustainEugene.org/beltline.html has details.
Second, and even more important, federal law requires that long term transportation planning is not about current traffic congestion but what conditions may be two decades in the future. But traffic levels have peaked, paralleling the peak of available energy to power vehicles. Oregon’s cars, SUVs, planes, trains and food delivery trucks depend on the Alaska pipeline, which peaked in 1988 and has declined three fourths since. Domestically, conventional oil peaked in 1970 and is in terminal decline. Fracked oil is most of the supply now, but that peaked just before COVID.
Transportation plans that assume endless growth is physically possible are fantasies disconnected from physical reality. If we had acceptance — instead of denial, bargaining and blame — we would plan for depletion of finite fuels, but that is taboo.
RECALL IS FROM A CABAL OF WEALTHY CONSERVATIVES
As a young person concerned about climate change, I often feel like my voice is discounted by politicians. However, Councilor Claire Syrett has truly taken the time to meet with Sunrise Eugene, listen to our concerns about the climate crisis and lead critical efforts to take on the fossil fuel industry. She understands that our future is at stake.
It is clear that Syrett feels a commitment not to monied special interests, but to her constituents. This commitment is reflected in her continued efforts on the City Council to pass policies to ensure climate action and housing justice and her willingness to meet with Eugene residents to hear our thoughts and dreams for our city.
This commitment is also why a cabal of wealthy conservatives (including some who don’t even live in our state) are running a recall election against Syrett. They have deliberately timed this election to suppress turnout, with the vote falling the day after Labor Day. Let’s show these out-of-state, polluting corporations that Eugene is our town, and our council seats cannot be bought and sold. Vote “no” on this ridiculous recall.
LET’S GIVE SYRETT TIME OFF
I’d like to say two things about Claire Syrett. The first is that I like her. I feel she is sensitive and considerate, and has admirable personal qualities. The second thing I want to say is that I do not like her as my Ward 7 Councilor. There are several reasons.
As a resident of Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood since 1993 — and as the (now-former) treasurer of the Whiteaker Community Council for 12 years — I have a very good grasp of what the community’s issues are. We have dealt with the almost exclusive stacking of social services and homeless encampments within our neighborhood boundaries for decades. Yet our own councilor, who has been the leader of the City Council’s social service committee, is so oblivious to this issue that she will not have discussion about it, and remains ignorant of how this will destroy the proposed Quiet Zone.
Syrett lives one block from the railroad tracks, and did not attend any city engineer presentations which the WCC hosted during which we learned that the Southern Pacific railroad is required to use their horns when people are on the tracks, QZ or no QZ, and they can unilaterally cancel the QZ if Eugene cannot provide a safe situation, which it cannot because there are always transients on the tracks. The QZ will never succeed due to the stacking of homeless transients in Whiteaker. Yet Syrett not only ignores these basic facts, but she glares angrily at the WCC when we bring it up. This is extremely poor leadership, and will cost the community even more millions than Syrett has already surrendered to wealthy developers in MUPTE deals. She then proposed to raise taxes to fund parks maintenance and other essential city services. This is tantamount to a dereliction of duty.
As she herself explained, she has a full time job and can’t devote the necessary time to parse so many details. For all of the above reasons, and more, we deserve a different Ward 7 councilor, and Syrett deserves time off to heal and pay attention. Please vote to recall her for everyone’s sake.
RECALL A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY
I got a postcard the other day. It asked, “Unhappy with Eugene City Government?” and my first thought was “darn right.” Eugene’s city government can be arrogant, short-sighted and wasteful. I’ve been at planning commission meetings where well-prepared neighbors were ignored, while the developer and his lawyers were called “sir,” every time. I’m appalled at the huge plastic buildings that block the tree line that surrounds us. I’m sick of the city manager system that gives way too much power to one person. And the lack of attention to renters, poor people and the homeless.
So it seems kind of silly to blame all our city’s ills on Claire Syrett. Elected city councilors are our very limited voice in city government. They’re all we’ve got. If they don’t vote how you want, elect somebody else. Recalls are for misbehavior, dereliction of duty, illegal behavior and the like. They are not for policy disagreements. This whole recall election is a waste of time and money.
You want to call for greater accountability? I’m with you. But this is not how to do it.
William (Chico) Schwall
LET WARD 7 RESIDENTS DECIDE ON SYRETT
Eugene Weekly has gone all out to parrot entrenched powers’ and special interests’ polemics in their attempt to save Ward 7 Councilor Claire Syrett from a citizens’ recall (EW 8/25).
As four Whiteaker residents and Ward 7 voters, we’re supporting the recall of Syrett by peacefully participating in a crown jewel of American democracy: “the right of the people … to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Yet Syrett disparages us as “extremists” and “antidemocratic” and similarly denigrates more than 2,000 of her other constituents who signed the recall petition.
In contrast, vocal recall opponents are mostly from outside Ward 7. Mayor Lucy Vinis lives in the south hills in Ward 8. Of the 15 letters posted on EugeneWeekly.com opposing the recall, only two letters are from Ward 7 residents; six are from individuals who don’t live in Eugene, can’t vote in Eugene and don’t pay Eugene taxes.
The Oregon Constitution states that voters within Ward 7 are the only ones empowered to decide — by voting — whether they want Syrett as their elected representative.
Among the ironies in opponents’ repeated cut-and-paste arguments that this recall election is a “waste of taxpayers’ money” is the fact that Syrett voted to approve over $25 million in tax exemptions, leaving Eugene taxpayers to fill in the gap for cuts in social services that Vinis bemoans.
Syrett should withdraw her meritless lawsuit and let democracy proceed.
For a detailed, evidence-based evaluation of Syrett’s claims, visit ClaireSyrettRecall.com and press “Download.”
Jared Day and Dassi McCurdy