May 4 is Star Wars Day (and if you don’t know what we mean, it’s May the Fourth, get it?), and that’s the day you will have your ballot in one hand and your copy of Eugene Weekly’s election endorsements in the other. It’s less like having a lightsaber and more like trying to use an amorphous force — known as democratic elections — to manifest change.
We spend hours interviewing candidates for stories and endorsement, researching them and attending forums all over the county and cities from Eugene City Club to Springfield Chamber of Commerce. We are small and fierce, but we can’t interview everyone in every race — yet we do try to interview every candidate who asks us to. If we didn’t endorse in a race, it’s because we didn’t feel like we had enough information. If we did endorse and put the candidate’s name in bold, then read what we think and make up your own mind!
Please check out our stories and interviews with candidates in print and at EugeneWeekly.com, tagged Election 2023. And if you want to join your fellow citizens and weigh in, mail what you think to Letters@EugeneWeekly.com.
Eugene City Council
Ward 7 two year term
Lyndsie Leech by a landslide. If we had to lose a good city councilor like Claire Syrett to a baseless recall, let’s at least replace her with a thoughtful candidate. Janet Ayres is backed by the anti-mass transit NIMBY crowd, and Barbie Walker didn’t seem to have thought through her positions, but based on her $2,000 payment to failed right-wing nut job congressional candidate Alek Skarlatos’s campaign manager, she’s not a great match for an area that includes the Whiteaker and River Road.
Leech, in contrast, has pondered her positions on everything from policing to homelessness to mental health — specifically figuring out ways for the city to implement mental health-related policies in the community. Leech has a solid background of volunteer and paid work for progressive nonprofits, from the FOOD For Lane County Grassroots Garden to the Territorial Parent Association and WellMama, Inc., for which she is now executive director. She’s a good fit.
Lane Measure No: 20-340
Yes. Renewal of jail and youth services five-year levy
In the past we have suggested both no and yes votes on this levy. On the surface, defunding the jail seems like the way to go. But history reminds us that Ronald Reagan’s reduction of federal spending on mental hospitals sent people back to the states, which didn’t take care of them, either. The jail has become a defacto mental health institution, and it shouldn’t be, but sending folks back to the streets and not holding folks with violent felony offenses doesn’t work, either. This levy is a five-year renewal of the one that’s been in place for a decade. It’s an ongoing stop gap, and we need to get going on a better way of dealing with crime and mental health, but until that’s in place, we’re going to say yes on the renewal.
City of Eugene Measure No: 20-343
Yes. Five-Year parks and recreation operations and maintenance local option levy
Parks, open space and recreation are dear to our hearts. We’ll take this bully pulpit to remind the city that we’d like to see the money spent on the parks — not on evicting unhoused campers with no place to go.
Willamalane Park & Recreation District
Directors (Vote for three)
Johnny A. Lake
Angela Miceli Stout
Chris Wig and Johnny Lake are both solid progressive incumbents on the board; aspiring newcomer Kiersten Muenchinger, a design engineer who has worked with Walt Disney Imagineering, heads the Department of Product Design at the University of Oregon and might bring an interesting perspective to Willamalane.
Lane Community College
Zone 1 two year term
Steve Mital (unopposed)
Position 6 at large
This is a race with two solid candidates. Both are LCC grads and care deeply about the school. Alltucker has a strong background in working on issues affecting formerly incarcerated people and Baldwin has a strong union backing and background. Honestly, you can’t really go wrong with either, but Alltucker got our nod for what we see as an ability to understand Lane County’s many political sides, and come out on the side of the students and education.
Position 7 at large
Bethel School District #52
Greg C. Nelson
Daniel (Drae) Charles
Director Position 6
Robin W. Zygaitis
Creswell School District #40
Kandice A. Lemhouse Worsham (unopposed)
Margaret Michele Colletti
Mary Stayton (unopposed)
Creswell School District #40 Measure No: 20-342
Yes. Bonds to repair/update schools, access vocational training; improve safety
David A. Fowler (unopposed)
Eugene School District #4J
Tom Di Liberto
Juan Carlos Valle (withdrew)
Tom Di Liberto is a quiet, unassuming longtime educator. Michael Bratland is a dentist who sponsored a Back the Blue billboard with former TV news personality-turned-conspiracy theorist Rick Dancer, and who is endorsed by the anti-LGBTQIA+ Kids 4 Success PAC. Di Liberto it is.
Retired Oregon State Police Trooper Rick Hamilton gets our surprise support to join the 4J school board. More than three decades in the front ranks of law enforcement has left him not only without a shred of bitterness but with a deep understanding of and sympathy for people facing challenges from mental illness to poverty and homelessness. A recent mental health tragedy in his own family gives him even deeper insight into institutional failures of our society, particularly to African Americans such as himself. Hamilton’s friendly, solid demeanor should be a calming and unifying influence on the fractured board, whose meetings have sunk into embarrassing chaos over the past two years.
Jenny Jonak is a lawyer, a Korean American mother of a special needs daughter and is someone with an outstanding record of service that includes such wide-ranging organizations as the Lane County Bar Association’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and the Friends of the Eugene Public Library. She lives just far enough outside town to bring a rural perspective to this largely urban school district.
Morgan H. Munro
Timothy Sean Sutherland
Ask Morgan Munro a question about schools and she pops up with an answer. Her answers are well researched, based on actual facts and thoughtfully articulated. The Eugene School Board could use a dose of her graceful wonkishness as it tries to deal with such problems as student mental health and suicide, teacher burnout, campus security amid the 2nd Amendment plague, and the deep dysfunction that is paralyzing the board itself (and, yes, she has a plan for that). Vote her in.
Fern Ridge School District #28J
Lisa (Miss Lisa) McCann
Junction City School District #69
Ryan Ceniga (unopposed)
We checked, and since the Junction City School Board is not a “lucrative” elected position, Ryan Ceniga can indeed run again for school board while on the Lane County Board of County Commissioners. Since we haven’t been blown away by the current county board’s voting against female leadership, we’re definitely not endorsing Ceniga to continue his position in public education.
Position 2 two year term
Jesse C. Springer
Wendy Waddell (unopposed)
McKenzie School District #68
Position 2 two year term
Oakridge School District #76
Jeri A. Reed
Siuslaw School District #97J
South Lane School District #45J3
Tammy Hodgkinson (unopposed)
Joe Tucker (unopposed)
Springfield School District #19
Nicole De Graff