Tina Kotek. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Tina Kotek’s Final Frontier

Gov. Tina Kotek concludes her 36-county One Oregon Listening Tour by spending the day in Lane County

On Thursday, Dec. 14, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek spent her final stop of her One Oregon Listening Tour in Lane County. Kotek said she has spoken to over a thousand Oregonians across 36 counties over the last year to listen to the concerns of Oregonians.

At a press conference Kotek said, “At the end of the day you can’t lead unless you’re listening to the people that you’re here to serve.”

The governor began her day in Lane County in Veneta with Mayor Keith Weiss and Junction City Mayor Beverly Fice discussing housing issues in cities in western Lane County. Kotek then went to Springfield to meet with local nonprofit Connected Lane County.

“We heard from a number of young people who are either in the program or who have been in the program talking about the value of the friendships they made there; how it helped them understand what they might want to do with their future plans,” Kotek said. 

She says it was “inspiring” to see how their youth program that helps prepare young people for opportunities beyond high school has developed since receiving the Future Ready grant from the state. 

From there, Kotek traveled to the McKenzie Fire Rescue Station to discuss where that community is at after the 2020 Labor Day Holiday Farm fires. Kotek called the visit “sobering” and said that she learned about the need for aid in helping small businesses recover. 

“Recovery is a multi-year process, and it was a very honest conversation about the work that can be done as a state,” Kotek said.

Kotek made her way to Cottage Grove to visit the low-barrier shelter for the unhoused operated by Carry it Forward, where she met with volunteers who, she said, have “a really great handle on the services they can provide.” The governor also visited the Cottage Grove Community Center to talk with the Lane County Multi-Agency Coordinating Group about progress that has been made in meeting the needs of the unhoused. She said that they discussed funding issues as well as planning for the future to ensure this system works for a variety of houseless individuals.

“I think Lane County should be very proud of the work that folks are doing here to meet the needs of their neighbors who are unhoused,” Kotek said. “But also plan for the future and make sure that we have a system in place that works for a variety of individuals so they can get stable.”

Kotek said that housing was one of the most pressing issues in all of the counties she has visited. More housing is what she calls the “ultimate solution,” and in order to meet that goal the governor is looking to propose spending $500 million to provide better housing infrastructure across the state in the next legislative session in January.

“I’m not gonna sugarcoat this,” Kotek said. “We have a lot of work to do in terms of housing, and it’s going to take stronger partnerships with the private sector. These are private developers; we have to make it easier.”

Public health was another concern community members had in light of the closure of Eugene’s only emergency room at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart University District Medical Center. 

Kotek said that when she first heard that PeaceHealth was closing she picked up the phone immediately. “We made it very clear to PeaceHealth that we need to know what you’re doing, we need to know what the transition is going to look like and you need to maintain the behavioral health services.” 

She said that she has been closely monitoring the emergency department situation to make sure that there aren’t any gaps in services. “Oregon Health Authority is going to keep an eye on making sure that Eugene/Springfield has hospital services it needs,” she said.” No one’s off the hook here.”

Comments are closed.