For weeks signature gatherers have been approaching voters asking if they supported grocery store workers as they sought the signatures of voters in state Rep. Paul Holvey’s District 8. The contentious petition campaign seeking a recall of Holvey wrapped up August 21 and succeeded in getting a recall election scheduled for Oct. 3.
District 8 includes central, east and south Eugene as well as downtown, the University of Oregon and rural areas south of Eugene. Holvey is a longtime popular Democrat and labor politician who has been in the Oregon Legislature since 2004. UFCW 555 is the funding behind RPH PAC, which pushed the recall effort.
The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office announced, “After verification, the petition contained a total of 5,055 valid signatures,” which qualified the petition for the special election ballot.
Holvey says in a statement to Eugene Weekly that “UFCW has spent more than $200,000 so far on this smear campaign trying to portray me as anti-Labor, which is absurd.”
He says, “I am proud of being considered the most pro labor representative in the Legislature, and that’s why unions representing nurses, teachers, firefighters, building trades, SEIU, AFSCME and many others are supporting me by opposing this recall.”
Miles Eshaia, UFCW Local 555 communications coordinator, did not respond to a request for comment, but issued a press release reiterating the union’s grievances and patting themselves on the back for collecting the signatures.
Eshaia, of Lake Oswego, vied unsuccessfully to be appointed to a seat in the Oregon House in 2014. Other key figures in the recall effort, Joe Emmons of Osprey Field Services, the signature gathering service, operates out of Portland, and UFCW lobbyist Mike Selvaggio lists himself as operating out of West Linn.
The press release says that the recall effort “outlined a long list of Holvey’s anti-worker actions and questionable conduct that warrant his removal, including Holvey’s dishonest framing of his opposition to pro-worker legislation, his long standing double-standard advantaging big business interests over those of working people, a chronic lack of engagement, and other instances of poor conduct.”
Holvey says, “I have a strong record standing up for working families. I led the fight to raise the minimum wage and establish paid sick time. I championed the effort for farm workers to get overtime pay and fair treatment under the law. Not a single union or organization is supporting UFCW in this misguided effort. With overwhelming support from my constituents, I am fighting this reckless recall!”
Ballots will be mailed Friday, Sept. 15, and ballot drop boxes open that same day. The last day to vote is Oct. 3. If the recall were to succeed, the Democratic Party of Lane County would provide the Lane County Board of Commissioners a list of possible candidates to appoint in his place. A group of current and past commissioners, including three members of the current five commissioner board, wrote a viewpoint against the recall in the August 3 EW. They say Holvey was “unfairly targeted for a recall election,” and call the special election “costly.”