October 7, 2022

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Mayor rejects candidate who experienced homelessness

6 min read

After the Eugene City Council deadlocked on a Human Rights Commissioner, Mayor Lucy Vinis cast the deciding vote. She voted against a woman who has experienced homelessness. She chose instead a best-selling author, sought-after speaker and executive coach who one councilor thought might still be getting money from the city. At the June 13 Council meeting, Mayor Lucy Vinis.

[00:00:22] Mayor Lucy Vinis: Okay. Now we move on to the Human Rights Commission.

[00:00:27] Councilor Claire Syrett: Move to appoint Sarai Johnson to the Human Rights Commission for the unexpired term beginning July 1st, 2022 and ending on June 30th, 2023.

[00:00:40] Councilor Emily Semple: I have a substitute motion.

[00:00:42] Mayor Lucy Vinis: Okay. Councilor Semple.

[00:00:43] Councilor Emily Semple: I move to substitute Julie Lambert for Sarai Johnson.

[00:00:48] Mayor Lucy Vinis: Okay. Any—you want to speak to that?

[00:00:51] Councilor Emily Semple: I’ll speak to it. Yeah. I think Sarai’s great. I think she’s involved in many parts of her work in the city. I’ve worked with Julie Lambert for a long time. I think she’d bring a different energy. She’s not, hasn’t been involved in the city functions. She has a lot of lived experience, both as unhoused and mental and physical health challenges. So I just think she’d be a valuable voice on the Human Rights Commission.

[00:01:24] Councilor Matt Keating: Point of information: What was the vote count? I’m having trouble pulling up that email.

[00:01:29] Mayor Lucy Vinis: They both had four—both Sarai and Julie had four votes.

[00:01:37] Councilor Randy Groves: I have nothing against Sarai. I think she’s done a great job at the county and working on the unhoused situation. My only question: Is that not a conflict of interest? Since the Human Rights Commission is making recommendations to this body on things that do cost money, and she represents a program that I don’t know that we’re even still paying into, but we were paying into for a while. I’m just—I just have a question about conflict of interest.

[00:02:09] City Manager Sarah Medary: Yeah. I don’t think there’s any conflict of interest there. Sarai resigned her position with us, so she’s currently a Lane County employee and she works on things that cross over, but she’s not a city employee, so I don’t think there’s any conflict.

[00:02:22] Councilor Randy Groves: Okay. That’s helpful because I had thought there was a shared position.

[00:02:27] Councilor Jennifer Yeh: So I actually voted for both of these people. So I’m sorry that they are both not going to make it, but, and I appreciate everyone’s comments, I’m go—I’m supporting Sarai. One of the reasons for that is, that I often do not get the opportunity to vote for someone from North Eugene.

[00:02:45] There is a lack of folks in our area who choose to even apply for boards and commissions. And I believe seeing someone from our community will encourage others to take that leap and decide to take a leadership position in our city boards and commissions, which is something I’ve tried to encourage in our area, and it’s still work that needs to be done.

[00:03:05] Mayor Lucy Vinis: Okay. So the motion on the table is to vote to substitute. All in favor of the substitution, please raise your hand. 1, 2, 3, 4. Are we there again? Okay. And opposed: 1, 2, 3, 4. I will oppose the substitution.

[00:03:24] John Q: With her opposition to Julie Lambert, the mayor chose Sarai Johnson for the Human Rights Commission.

[00:03:30] Councilor Yeh’s announcement that she voted for both candidates also raised questions about the voting procedures. Earlier in the meeting, Councilor Mike Clark.

[00:03:39] Councilor Mike Clark: I have a disagreement with our process that I’ve voiced before. I predominantly don’t like the fact that those votes are taken in secret and not in a public process. So for me, for us to vote secretly on people we prefer in advance of an actual formal vote seems like a bad idea. This is the only vote that counts. Preliminary discussions and preliminary weeding down of candidates who apply, seems like a bad idea to me to not do in public.

[00:04:08] John Q: Councilor Clark sought to substitute Ted Coopman for Ryan Moore on the budget committee, because Ryan missed half of the meetings.

[00:04:15] Councilor Mike Clark: My recollection is that Ryan missed two of them, so he missed half. Am I right about that? (I don’t recall.) My recollection is that he missed half of our meetings. And when you only have to come to four, that seems like he may have a conflict— I want to be charitable— that’s more important to him and that’s fine. That’s how things go.

[00:04:34] I have a high degree of respect for Ted Coopman’s intellect and the things that I’ve read from him before. And he certainly has a high degree of motivation to participate. So I thought from my point of view, those are characteristics that make him more qualified in this case to serve, and his is a voice I’d like to hear from. So that’s the reason for my substitution.

[00:04:57] John Q: Councilor Alan Zelenka said that Ryan was following his dreams.

[00:05:01] Councilor Alan Zelenka: I just wanted to point out that during Ryan Moore’s three-minute testimony, which I believe Councilor Clark wasn’t in attendance when he did that, he did mention that and addressed that and said he was following a lifelong dream that he had, that it made a very difficult choice for him, and he apologized but he had to follow his dreams and conflicted with the Budget Committee schedule, and I for one gave a pass on that.

[00:05:28] Councilor Matt Keating: Point of information:  It was not just implied, it was overtly stated that our votes are done in secret and that’s simply not true.

[00:05:34] Our votes are public record and you can very clearly see which councilor voted for which nominee, which is why I know we only had seven of the eight of us vote. So if you don’t vote, I find it difficult to accept a substitute motion when we have a process by which we are operating.

[00:05:56] Councilor Mike Clark: If we want to review process agreements, at some point, as the mayor pointed out, I’d be happy to do that, because there’s some flaws in the system we use and the, and not being present in the room just like tonight—and several of my colleagues are—isn’t the same thing as didn’t listen to the testimony and the application process of those who were part of it, which I did. That’s an assumption that isn’t correct.

[00:06:20] Mayor Lucy Vinis: So we have a motion to substitute Ted Coopman for Ryan Moore. All in favor of substitution, please raise your hands: 1, 2, 3, 4. Vote not to substitute: 1, 2, 3, 4. I will vote not to substitute.

[00:06:38] John Q: Mayor Vinis casts a tie-breaking vote, choosing Ryan Moore over Ted Coopman for the Budget Committee. For the record, here’s Ryan Moore applying for a second term on the Budget Committee on May 16th.

[00:06:50] Ryan Moore: Hello Mayor Vinis and City Councilors. I have a lot to say, so I’m going to talk really fast, as usual. Sorry. I’m grateful for the chance to talk to you before you make your final decisions on whether or not to reappoint me.

[00:07:00] First I have to apologize again for missing the last few meetings. They were the first I’ve ever missed and I didn’t take that lightly, but by way of explanation, for literally more than a decade now, I’ve been working towards my dream job—my dream career, really—in the state legislature.

[00:07:17] I’ve tried for it several times, failed every time. But two months ago, my best chance yet came up and I just had to jump on it.

[00:07:25] I put my literally entire life on hold. Everything’s on pause, sacrificed much, including our Budget Committee meetings. And I regret that, but I have to follow my passion. So as you know, tomorrow is election day, which means I get to resume my life after tomorrow.

[00:07:42] John Q: The mayor casts two tie-breaking votes, Ryan Moore follows his dreams, Councilor Yeh supports an applicant from North Eugene, and Councilor Clark wants to take a long hard look at the voting process.

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