Who am I?
As a mother, scientist, homeowner, taxpayer and community member, I care deeply about policy matters that impact the lives of people here in Lane County. All three of my children attended Lane Community College; my two daughters recently graduated, both of whom now live and work locally. I also have a wonderful 16-month-old grandson, and I want him to have the same opportunities that I had, especially the opportunity to grow up in a safe and vibrant community that puts the needs of the next generation first.
I grew up in a middle-class family in Oakland, California. My parents were small business owners, and I remember working together with my siblings to collate papers in my parents’ print shop and stock shelves in their stationery store. At a young age, my parents showed me the entrepreneurship and innovative spirit of everyday Americans.
I believe my parents imparted me with a deep sense of social justice, whether applied to people, animals or the environment, and I am concerned about economic, social and environmental impacts—the three legs of sustainability—when making decisions in both my personal and public lives. I was born at the tail end of the baby boom, and I grew up in a time where there were many worthy causes to which I could devote my energy. However, one cause seemed to loom largest: the injustice of the Vietnam War. Even as a teenager, I couldn’t understand how our government could draft and send my male peers off to fight before they were even old enough to vote; I felt I had to do something, so I joined my first grassroots campaign and took to the streets to advocate the passage of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment.
Since then, I have worked on many campaigns that aimed to make our country—and my community—a better place. I have fought against the exploitation of animals in research, against inhumane treatment of animals in the fur trade and for the humane treatment of unwanted dogs and cats. I have also fought against racism, misogyny and homophobia by advocating for education equality, school integration, housing rights, women’s rights and marriage equality. I have fought for health care for all and social programs for the needy. I have advocated for alternative crime-prevention programs that, under the appropriate circumstances, keep people with mental health or substance abuse issues out of prison.
For the past fifteen years I have worked as an environmental chemist, where I conducted testing on behalf of regulatory agencies—such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)—that hold polluters accountable. I currently serve as a citizen representative on the Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) Budget Committee, and I recently served one term on the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) of Commissioners representing Wards 1 and 8.
Why am I running?
The Lane County Board of Commissioners is broken. Since 2011, when conservative commissioners won the majority, our county government has been rocked by a series of scandals, fraying the trust of the citizens of Lane County. The blatant gerrymander of 2011, the destruction of Parvin Butte and the fiasco surrounding ousted County Administrator Liane Richardson are all merely symptoms of the greater problem. The way I see it, the Lane County Commissioners have stopped listening to their constituents.
That’s why I decided to run for East Lane County Commissioner: to listen to my fellow citizens and ensure the voice of the people is heard by the Board of Commissioners. I believe my core values — accountability, inclusiveness and transparency — make me the right person for the job. With that in mind, I have already knocked on well over 1,500 doors in East Lane County to hear what people are saying in Churchill, Cottage Grove, Creswell and Oakridge.
Last year I completed a four-year term on the Eugene Water and Electric Board of Commissioners, where I advocated for including ratepayers throughout the entirety of the budget process, instituted a policy of ‘zero balance budgeting’ to keep department managers accountable for their expenditures and hired a new general manager through an exhaustive and open nationwide hiring process. I am currently serving on the Lane Council of Governments Budget Committee, where I am working to advocate for sound financial management after years of risky real estate speculation.
To regain public trust after the scandals of the last four years, the next East Lane County Commissioner must be focused on openness and transparency—the most fundamental principles of good government. Out of all the candidates in the East Lane race, I believe I am the strongest in this area. You can be sure I know how to use the budget to serve the needs of citizens, codify our county’s priorities and provide the greatest value to taxpayers. I’ve done it before. As an EWEB Commissioner, I voted to cut the budget of Eugene’s public utility while maintaining our organization’s commitment to extraordinary service.
As a member of the Board of Commissioners, I will work to ensure our county government is truly a government of, by and for the people of Lane County. By taking simple, common-sense steps—like reinstituting the minutes recorder at public meetings and holding weekly board meetings in the evening—we can include citizens in making county decisions and empower them to participate in the political process.
If we work together and institute some basic reforms, we can build the county government the citizens of Lane County can be proud of. Ultimately, I am running for county commissioner to empower the residents of East Lane County to build the county government they deserve.
The most important issue facing Lane County today is our need to procure family and living wage jobs for our citizens. We must promote the creation of well-paying construction and manufacturing jobs, increase and support our county’s agricultural base and create programs to assist and invest in citizens who wish to start a small business. We also must protect and nurture the businesses we already have.
This is an enormous task, and our county government must show some humility and work with community partners—such as labor unions, WorkSource Oregon, Lane Metro Partnership, Lane Community College and the University of Oregon—to achieve the following:
● Create easy and friendly processes for new and existing businesses to secure the necessary permits and access infrastructure, including electricity, water and high-speed internet;
● Supply new and existing businesses with a prepared and productive workforce by ensuring our secondary school, community college and university students have access to internship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities;
● Ensure veterans, displaced workers, people with disabilities and people of color can access training services to meet their employment needs;
● Ensure that workers who want to form a union are protected to the fullest extent of the law; and
● Support regional and statewide initiatives and legislation that increase funding for workforce development.
One critical aspect of attracting new jobs is providing adequate public safety services to all our citizens, not just those who live in the Eugene Metro Area. Although voters approved a levy to fund a minimum of 256 beds in the Lane County Jail in May 2013, the public safety situation in rural areas remains dire. For a county with a population of approximately 350,000, 256 beds are insufficient. The county commissioners and the Lane County Sheriff must think outside the box to stop the current practice of “catch and release” by looking into crime prevention, intervention and alternative sentencing programs like drug court.
In East Lane County, at any given time, only two sheriff’s deputies are assigned to patrol an area the size of Rhode Island. To fix our broken public safety apparatus, our county government must make hiring more patrol deputies the highest priority and set—and achieve—ambitious response time goals.
To regain the trust of our citizens after four years of scandal, the Board of Commissioners has to get back to basics and implement some fundamental principles of good government. Our county government must utilize an open, transparent and competitive process to hire new employees, especially administrators and department managers. I have experience implementing such a process: when I was on the EWEB Board, we hired our new general manager by conducting an open and competitive nationwide search. We also need to get back to holding meetings in the evening so working people can attend, requiring a minutes recorder be present at all public meetings and look into hiring an independent performance auditor to honestly assess our effectiveness at delivering services to our constituents.
My DFA Values
From campaigning to win the vote for 18-year-olds to strengthening EWEB’s assistance program for low-income families, I have worked to create fairness, bolster equality and boost participation in communities where I have lived. In my experience, the best way to promote community, security and livability in our communities is to bring more stakeholders to the table and empower them to create the change that they seek.
I used this approach in my work on the Whatcom County Youth Network (WCYN). WCYN was given a small amount of money by the State of Washington and tasked with creating programs to help at-risk youth. In retrospect, our whole approach adhered to DFA’s shared values of community—we empowered community members to make changes from the inside out; security—we believed a strong community offers its children accessible education, appropriate nutrition and positive opportunities for social interaction; and liberty—we required any plan to be inclusive and open to anyone in the community who wished to participate.
Back then, the Roosevelt neighborhood was one of the most dangerous places to live in Bellingham. The crime rate was high, the local park was a haven for drug dealers and police received hundreds of complaint calls per month. I was one of the WCYN members who met with neighborhood residents from two apartment complexes that bordered the park who aspired to create a neighborhood association. The residents told us no one in the neighborhood communicated about their problems; instead they just called the police and filed complaint reports.
In my capacity at WCYN, I worked to empower these residents to organize a community meeting in the park. WCYN paid for the advertising and provided refreshments; the residents and I canvassed the neighborhood to invite people to attend. About 10 people came to that first meeting, and we found out right away there was a real desire to change and improve the neighborhood. The neighbors decided to form a neighborhood association right there on the spot.
We helped the new association plan a park clean up event where participants could meet and work with their neighbors, parks department workers, police officers and WCYN volunteers. We also helped organize a summer neighborhood picnic, which was attended by 50 neighborhood residents with WCYN providing food and kids’ activities. At the next year’s picnic, attendance swelled to 150 people.
Along the way, WCYN and the association worked with the Boys and Girls Club to open a center in the park. This was a huge asset to a neighborhood where most adults worked away from the home most of the day, as it provided a positive place and activities for kids after school.
Today, the Roosevelt neighborhood is a thriving community. There is a lower crime rate, a new Boys and Girls Club, a recently remodeled park and a plan to build a new community center. The transient renters who once dominated the neighborhood’s housing are being replaced by people who desire to stay in the neighborhood permanently.
My Campaign is People Powered!
I am a Democrat, and I know from experience that increasing voter turnout is key to Democrats winning elections. I also know that, at times, organizing Democrats can be akin to herding cats, so it is essential to activate and mobilize progressive organizations in the community to build the capacity of any grassroots campaign organization. Winning the support of these organizations requires hard work measured in doors knocked and positive conversations about our values as progressive Democrats.
My campaign organization is infused with progressive support from the ground floor, as I hired a campaign team with substantial grassroots organizing experience. My campaign manager worked for President Obama in 2008 and Pat Riggs-Henson—a union organizer and progressive candidate for Lane County Commissioner—in 2010. My communications director worked on President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012 and ran a campaign in 2013 to protect city services in Eugene. As we staff up, I’m committed to hiring community organizers who share my commitment to people-powered politics.
In Lane County there is an abundance of progressive organizations, and from the start my campaign has reached out to any like-minded group that would return our calls. I started with my local Democratic Party, where I have organized on behalf of Democratic candidates in my neighborhood as a Precinct Committee Person. Now, as a candidate myself, I’m having great conversations about our campaign on the front porches of my neighbors, many of whom are excited to see someone they know from the neighborhood running for the Board of Commissioners. I have had great success recruiting interns and volunteers from Lane County’s deep well of Democratic activists, including members of the Democratic Party of Lane County, Lane County Young Democrats and University of Oregon College Democrats.
In addition, I have reached out to progressive individuals and organizations by participating in events sponsored by the Helios Resource Network, a Eugene-based nonprofit that “promotes community livability by empowering local groups and businesses working toward sustainability,” as well as participated in progressive neighborhood organizations like the Blackberry Pie Society in Cottage Grove and the Churchill Area Neighbors. I also recently participated in a campaign training organized by EMILY’s List.
I believe it’s important to listen to how East Lane County constituents’ feel about the issues that affect their lives, and I strongly believe the best way to do that is to knock on their doors ask them. Many citizens have already bought into my campaign and signed a petition to put me on the ballot. I am the only candidate in the East Lane County commissioner race taking the time to file by petition.