Succeeding Syrett

Ten community members seek appointment to Ward 7

Ten community members are seeking appointment to represent Ward 7 on the Eugene City Council. Syrett held the seat until she was recalled by opponents of the LTD MoveAhead exploratory proposal, which considered expanding EmX service through River Road and generated voter discontent over misinformation that LTD and the council would make River Road a one-lane road. 

Eugene Weekly obtained applications from the city through a public records request. The applicants range in experience, from local business owners to community members, most of whom identify the ward’s most pressing issues, including homelessness, housing and crime. The applicants are listed in alphabetical order. 

From Dec. 5 to 7, the Eugene City Council will interview applicants. On Dec. 12, the council will meet to confirm an interim councilor, who will serve until voters will elect its councilor in May 2023. 

Janet Ayres 

Ayres has lived in Ward 7 for 34 years and owns and manages residential rental properties, but she wrote in her application that she’s retired, allowing her to “serve as a full time city councilor.” She previously worked as an educator, union steward and school bus driver. She writes that she served on the Whiteaker Community Council, where she says she initiated the railroad “Quiet Zone.” 

Of her top priorities as a city councilor, Ayers says that council is not holding the city manager accountable “for managing public engagement so that the community agrees on facts, even if they differ on opinions,” citing HB 2001 and the EmX expansion discussion on River Road. 

Ayers writes that she wants to advocate for safe shelter and transportation for unhoused folks “who will respect other housed and unhoused” people.” And the city needs subsidized rental housing that’s affordable for low-income residents. “This is an issue where the council needs to revisit the decision to go beyond the requirements of HB 2001 and take steps to mitigate displacement.” 

Stephanie Dugger

Dugger’s application is also brief and a little strange. She calls herself an “unlawfully detained foreign diplomat” and frequently refers to the Federal Emergency Management Agency throughout her application, even where it doesn’t relate to the question. 

Don Heady

Don Heady has lived in Eugene for 23 years, five of which in Ward 7. He writes that he has been homeless and has received some of the area’s homeless prevention assistance. He says the top three areas are homeless impacts, homeless prevention and housing units; he also mentions MovingAhead, saying it has to be resolved. 

Heady says in his application that his top priority if appointed is to offer more basic homeless services rather than “tarps” and that cleared areas remain clean. And he supports expanding LTD service to the ward and to add a shuttle service to the Santa Clara Transit Center. 

Thomas Hiura

Hiura, who ran for Eugene mayor in May 2020, is a visual and hip-hop artist, activist and lifelong resident. They say they moved to the ward when his family moved to Eugene when they were 2 years old and has lived there for 20 years, though non-consecutively due to homelessness and housing instability. 

Hiura writes that the ward’s quality of life is at risk due to various issues, including noise pollution from the Zip-O-Laminators mill. But they write more about economic viability, saying that the high cost of housing and shortage of jobs that don’t require higher education is affecting residents. And after Syrett was ousted via recall election, Hiura says they would work to conduct outreach with the ward’s residents. 

In their application, Hiura highlights their priority of addressing the increasingly “adversarial relationship” between public safety and human rights. “The amount of violent crime and street harassment we have in Eugene may very well be moving from unacceptable to unimaginable,” they write. “This isn’t an easy trend to reverse, but I want to be a part of the solution to make this city safe for everyone.” 

Daniel Isaacson

Isaacson’s application shows the most civic experience. He is the chair of the city of Eugene’s Planning Commission. He’s also the president of the Lane County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, co-chair of Suicide Prevention Coalition of Lane County, board member of Reality Kitchen and River Road Community Organization (the latter of which are in Ward 7). 

Before submitting an application, Isaacson was one of two interested applicants to attend an Oct. 12 straw poll at Alluvium, hosted by various Eugene groups. After the debate between him and Joel Iboa, Isaacson won the straw poll. Isaacson worked as Syrett’s campaign manager for the recall election. 

He says in his application that he knocked on 150 doors in the ward and the residents he spoke with were vocal on various issues, from potholes to the ward’s growth and the stress that it’ll have on the infrastructure. But he pointed to homelessness, crime and transportation as the top three concerns as the biggest themes from his conversations. 

If appointed, Isaacson says no issue is as “interwoven throughout the fabric of our communities” within the idea of interdependence than mental health care. “For too long, we have deprioritized or overlooked its importance,” he writes. “We have not invested in the systems and language that could insulate us from the worst consequences we see every day. The mentally ill too often are subsumed into the criminal class. But we can change that.” 

Lyndsie Leech

Leech is the executive director of the mental health nonprofit WellMama and has worked in nonprofit management for a decade in the Eugene area. In her application, she said the three top issues the ward faces are affordable housing, family-centered services and public spaces. 

 Affordable housing, she says, must be at the forefront of the City Council’s work. The housing supply can’t keep up with the number of people moving to Eugene, she writes, and many homes are being converted into vacation rentals. Houselessness has increased and strains the city’s services. 

The city’s households with families are also struggling, Leech  writes. Families have trouble finding affordable childcare and pre-school options. And parental leave and workplace protections don’t offer parents enough support. “Mental health of our children is getting significantly worse and not enough is being done about it — with the suicide rate of adolescents doubling in the past year, we must focus on the health and wellbeing of all, but particularly our families,” Leech continues. 

Leech’s third major issue facing the ward is the area’s public spaces, which encompasses parks and transit. She says the city needs to balance livability and transit for everyone. 

But her top priority is treating all with dignity. “Providing the houseless with more options, easy mental health access for all who need it with policies that are protective of it and supporting families,” her application says. 

Marlene Pearson

Pearson, vice president of accounting at the advertising website, submitted an application with much shorter responses than many of the other applicants. She writes that Ward 7 lacks community spirit. Of the three most important issues the ward faces, she mentions “lack of planning for growth, homeless and community input replanning.” Her top priority if appointed is to build a facility for the homeless that’s similar to the Eugene Mission that offers related services. 

Daniel Takamori

Takamori is a community organizer and has worked in free and open source software development for nearly a decade. He moved to Eugene and Ward 7 in June 2020, but grew up in Corvallis. He says he is a member of the Active Transportation Committee. 

He says the top three issues in the ward are developing housing, finding resources for the unhoused community and creating a walkable city. 

Takamori’s priority if appointed is to push for more cooperation between the housed and unhoused communities. “Our city is segregated and oftentimes feels like a battle between the housed and houseless,” he writes. “We need more preventative resourcing because the policy to just move and shuffle people around has not been working and is causing more harm than good.”

Barbie Walker

Walker is the owner of Pint Pot Public House and the Webfoot. Although she’s lived in Eugene since 1998, she says she moved to the ward in 2021. 

As the three most important issues facing Ward 7 residents, Walker points to transportation, the need for new housing and its impact on traffic, and the unhoused. 

She says her top priorities if appointed are addressing the rising at risk youth and homeless youth “before they feel abandoned by our city and become unsuccessful adults.” Her second priority is to address the lack of safety in the city, such as increased crime from vandalism to trash in public areas, as well as “violent crime in our downtown nightlife.”

She also proposes “beautification projects that bring light and life to the city” and reevaluating and researching plans to increase the city’s housing units, as the low vacancy rate is a contributing factor to the city’s homeless crisis. 

Carol Zorn

Zorn lists her occupation as a licensed adult foster provider and has lived in Ward 7 for 34 years. She lists the ward’s top three issues as the homeless, public access to mental health services and MovingAhead. 

If appointed, she says her top priority would be to “get people off the street and see what we can do about drug addiction.” She adds, “Global warming, nuclear war, pandemics, etc. are all important but there is not much we can do about them. But we can find ways to get people off the street and help them with their mental health.”