July 22, 2024

Whole Community News

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Ward 7 residents pose a dozen questions for potential council candidates

5 min read
Members of the public have questions for the next city councilor from Ward 7. Apply for appointment by Nov. 9 at 5 p.m.

Members of the public have questions for the next city councilor from Ward 7. At the Eugene Tenants Alliance candidate forum Oct. 12:

[00:00:09] Mysti Frost: My name is Mysti Frost. I am on the board of directors for River Road Community Organization, and I’m also on the Citizens Advisory Board for LRAPA. And I’m greatly honored to be here tonight.

[00:00:24] River Road, Beltline are extremely congested. More and more folks are moving to those areas of town, and traffic is again a major problem (as is housing, but I’ll get to that in a moment). But I have a feeling it’s one of the biggest questions, and concerns for this issue is the reason why we lost the city councilor earlier. And what are your thoughts and feelings about how to remedy the situation with the traffic issue and climate change and making space for alternative modes of transportation?

[00:01:07] Tara Garkow: My name’s Tara Garkow. So Eugene has been working on rental protections for over six years, including limiting application fees and providing displacement prevention assistance. Do you support these protections? And can you talk about how you support the renters in your ward?

[00:01:30] Jason Vanderhaar: Hello, I’m Jason Vanderhaar, resident of the Whiteaker Neighborhood… What are your thoughts on natural gas?

[00:01:39] Tara Garkow: Let’s revisit housing again. Housing services in the city don’t fit neatly into the planning department. as you might know. What can we do to fix this and give greater capacity? For instance, Portland has a housing bureau.

[00:01:57] Mysti Frost: We’ve had our share of natural disasters recently, and as we learned with Hurricane Katrina, there’s only so many city staff that can help evacuate neighborhoods if there is an issue. And the poorest neighborhoods are often the last to receive help. Neighborhood organizations are taking the lead and help preparing their communities and evacuation and emergency preparedness. And we also probably know that community organizations are fairly poorly funded.

[00:02:34] Can you share with me your level of understanding and involvement in your community organization and how would you support neighborhood organizations if you were city councilor?

[00:02:50] Jason Vanderhaar: Do you support the right for employees to organize and form unions? And please explain how you would support workers as a city councilor.

[00:03:03] Henry Houston: Hi, my name is Henry Houston. I’m the news editor at Eugene Weekly. And I guess I have some questions for the perspective candidates. I guess first of all is, we’re in this weird position that we are today because of a recall mechanism, which has traditionally been used for ethical, legal issues that make the voters decide someone’s unfit to serve in office. Yet we’ve seen recall be used in the state of Oregon and even last year against California Governor Gavin Newsom, that a court ruled was a political tool or a misuse by the Republican Party, to try to unseat Gavin Newsome. We’ve seen this trend rise in the state of Oregon. How do you see this trend of recalls being used? Do you believe the city council has any place to try to reform it or lobby the legislature or any political leaders to advocate for any ballot measures reexamining use of recalls?

[00:04:03] Henry Houston: Claire Syrett at the end of the day was democratically elected to represent this ward, so in some ways her shadow will still be felt during the short appointment process that you’ll be serving in. So in what ways do you align with Claire Syrett’s values and perspectives as a policy maker, as a politician? In what ways would you see yourself differing than her?

[00:04:27] Henry Houston: Eugene and the whole state itself is facing homelessness as its crisis. How would you as a city councilor address homelessness while not alienating the business community, the residents, you have to deal with the police. So how do you work with—how do you do a tango with all of these different parties?

[00:04:46] Claire Roth: So my name’s Claire Roth. I’m a Ward 7 resident. One in four Oregonians do not have a driver’s license and many more choose to live car-free lives as vehicle transportation accounts for the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon.

[00:04:58] As Eugene’s population continues to increase, and as new housing is built to support this population growth and to combat the housing prices, how will you put people, their safety, and the other tenets of Vision Zero over business by ensuring that transportation options and infrastructure projects move along in the face of organized—yet willfully uninformed—NIMBY backlash?

[00:05:23] Zach Mulholland: My name’s Zach Mulholland. West Eugene residents have complained about noxious fumes coming from J H Baxter for decades with little response from Eugene’s officials or from LRAPA. After soil testing found dangerously high levels of dioxin at the J H Baxter site and on neighbors’ properties, J H Baxter shut down and they are refusing to pay for cleanup costs or fines. The city is considering new policies to regulate chronic toxic polluters, including insurance requirements for industry to cover cleanup costs, and a public health overlay zone that would establish buffer zones between homes and industry and stop the worst land uses from expanding. How would you work to protect presidents living near industrial areas in your ward and in Eugene more broadly?

[00:06:07] Pastor Eli Varedas, Alluvium: This question is on behalf of the three members of the board of directors of Alluvium who have been here tonight…The question that we have for the candidates is (to each of you): What are the things that you do on a weekly basis to feed the unhoused or feed the housing-insecure, to provide blankets, to provide warmth, provide shelter? What are the things that you do to keep your boots on the ground on a weekly basis?

[00:06:31] Mysti Frost: A couple of folks brought up this topic in the chat. As you know, mental health is a big concern, not only with reference to our houseless and homeless community, but also our children. I mean, all of us are struggling with mental health. What are your thoughts on how to heal as a community, how to remedy these huge issues?

[00:07:02] John Q: Ward 7 residents have questions for city council candidates. Applications are available on the city website and are due by 5 p.m. on Nov. 9.

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