Climates may change, but this remains constant: Some people relentlessly seek to consolidate power by exploiting the vulnerability and fear of those with less power, speaking of equity while cherishing their privileges and waxing poetic about justice while dismantling protections for the disenfranchised.
If you follow local politics, you’ve likely heard of Paul Conte, the lead NIMBY steering the crusades against more housing and better transit in Eugene from his Sunriver retirement castle. Dig in deeper and you’ll see how he uses Jefferson Westside Neighbors as his platform, indoctrinating well-intentioned neighbors into his right-wing agenda. Whether he’s calling a council candidate “a whore,” trying to prevent JWN board candidates from speaking during their allotted time, or doxxing those who disagree with him about housing, Conte will stop at nothing to feed his compulsion to control local politics.
It’s time to call reactionaries like Conte and his followers out for what they are: wolves in sheeps’ clothing. They are not part of the left; they are arch conservatives who have abandoned our community’s progressive values. While they don their tie-dye t-shirts, projecting a facade of liberalism and civility, they simultaneously undermine policies critical to creating a more affordable, welcoming, inclusive Eugene.
Together, we can check Conte and his followers’ power. We must loudly, whole-heartedly reject political campaigns, candidates and positions that perpetuate the disenfranchisement of vulnerable communities with the clever use of empty rhetoric. It is our collective responsibility to safeguard and restore the rights and dignity of every Eugene resident.
Jacob and Matie Trewe