June 12, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Mayoral candidates Shanaè, Kaarin field questions at the People’s Collective

31 min read
KVAL's Tiffany Lewis quizzed mayoral candidates on what they would do in their first 30 days in office, their views on housing and public safety, and how they would address racism and manage the stresses of serving in public office.

Candidates for mayor take questions at the People’s Collective, Lane County’s Black Community Center. A reporter for KVAL served as the moderator. On May 5:

Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): JFK famously said that being president looked more powerful from the Senate than it does from the Oval Office. That said, as a candidate, what is your current understanding of the mayor’s job description?

[00:00:26] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: It is the mayor’s role to be a champion of the people of this community. A mayor is a public servant here not to serve your own agenda, not to serve your own interests, but it’s really serving the community and bringing those issues, their plights, their concerns, their needs to the forefront.

[00:00:45] It is my job to be not only vocal but also be accessible to folks so that they know that they in fact have been heard and it is reflected in our collective decision-making process.

[00:00:57] I also know it is my job to lead by example. And so as mayor, you will see that I lead with a tone of respect and empathy and bringing back humanity into our policies.

[00:01:07] And so, as mayor, you will know that you have someone that is accessible, someone that is not waiting for you to come to City Hall to meet me, but that I want to meet you where you are, that I will be willing to engage with you and even have a hard discussion and a hard conversation.

[00:01:23] And so that’s what I believe the mayor is able to do. It is to lead the charge, it is to lead by example, and to be a vocal and accessible advocate.

[00:01:33] Kaarin Knudson: When I talk about the role of the mayor, I try to use that term ‘responsibility’ rather than ‘role’ for two reasons. One is because I think when you define something as a role, you are inscribing it within a box that expects certain behaviors, that says there are certain edges of work that you will not be engaging beyond when you are within this role. And that is what you are proscribed to do.

[00:01:55] When I think about the work that we have ahead as a community, we need a mayor who is carrying the responsibilities of our community. And that is an unscoped, unbounded set of responsibilities. The role of the mayor is not a 9-to-5 job. it’s not even an 8-to-10 job, depending on the circumstances, require pretty much anything of the person who is holding that responsibility, from technical expertise to community engagement, to effective advocacy, to coalition building, to caring and supporting our community through unimaginable times of crisis and disaster.

[00:02:29] When I think about that responsibility, that’s what I carry in my heart when I think about this work and what is ahead of us as a community and the importance of that work.

[00:02:38] On a daily basis, the responsibilities of the mayor and the power that this individual holds is very different from what a lot of people presume. The mayor only votes in tiebreakers at City Council, which means the mayor almost never influences the voting decision of that body of electeds from our different council wards. It’s a really important reason why people should be thinking about running for City Council.

[00:03:01] Setting an agenda doesn’t mean that you get to walk in and say, here’s what we’re doing everybody. Now you’re going to do what I want you to do. It means working with people to actually motivate, persuade, push, pull, nudge, pressure, lean, and find a way to be effective in moving our community conversations forward. That’s a way of working that I’m very comfortable with. It’s why I’m an architect. It’s why I’m running for mayor.

[00:03:28] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): What are the three most important issues for the future of Eugene and why?

[00:03:34] Kaarin Knudson: Abundant housing, safe public spaces, and a healthy economy. Those three issues are foundational to our progress as a community.

[00:03:43] When you ask people what they’re concerned about, our housing and homelessness crisis is at the top of everyone’s mind. They see the human rights crisis, they see the harms that people are experiencing, and they also see the way that unsheltered homelessness is impacting our community in all sorts of different ways:

[00:03:59] Parents not feeling like it’s safe to send their kids on the bike path to school, right? That then becomes a burden that that family carries. People feeling like the front of their business is not as accessible as they would like it to be because they see someone suffering in the public space in front of their building and that’s not a solution that they can imagine.

[00:04:16] The work I’ve been doing this last 10 years as a housing advocate, to help us address the full continuum of our housing needs—from unsheltered homelessness, to affordable housing for our workforce, to a diversity of housing options in our community—that’s the motivation for that work, is to actually help us address that crisis. And I will keep doing that.

[00:04:34] I’ll just say briefly, public space in cities, of course people immediately think of parks and open space, but these are also our streets. And so thinking about how our public streets, which in most cities is 80% of the public open space within a city’s urban area, how those streets are healthy, feel safe, are sociable, help for people to be better connected to one another, are part of how we imagine our community life.

[00:04:58] That is work that I’m really excited to do. It’s work that really we as a community will do in neighborhoods, across the city. It’s powerful. There’s a lot of opportunity just in that work.

[00:05:11] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: On our campaign website we’ve given people the option to actually inform us what issues matter most to them, and what showed up most frequently was: homelessness, housing and equity.

[00:05:24] To adequately address those challenges, we also must look at what are the underlying and contributing factors to why we have the crisis that we have when it comes to our housing affordability, housing accessibility, the lack of housing diversity and the amount of people who are unhoused in our community.

[00:05:43] And so that means that we have to address the fact that we need more living wage-earning jobs. It also means that we have to look at what are contributing factors to poverty, why there’s so much food instability in our community. It also means that we have to look at the need for greater mental health support, greater need for substance abuse treatment options.

[00:06:04] And so when we work collectively to address those issues, we are better able to solve and mitigate the amount and prevalence of housing and houselessness that we currently see in our community. I hope as a city that we are able to lead the charge and lead by example by ensuring that employees actually have living wage jobs across the board.

[00:06:26] We also need to be sure that we are prioritizing funding for organizations and entities that do provide services concurrently providing housing as well as substance abuse treatment or mental health support.

[00:06:39] It also means that we need to ensure that we’re providing the expansion of programs that help our workforce development as well so we increase the amount of people who are employable and have living wage jobs.

[00:06:52] Equity is all about access. And we need to make sure that as a city that we haven’t created a lot of barriers to the expansion of access to services and resources to so many members in our community. And so I want to work as mayor to remove any barriers to create greater access to the essential services that are needed by so many in our community in order to adequately address housing and houselessness.

[00:07:16] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): What are your plans for your first 30 days in office?

[00:07:22] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: We are currently facing a budget deficit and so we need to look at what is contributing to that deficit, what we as a city can do to expand our funding sources, our revenue sources in order to provide the basic essentials that are needed for so many in our community.

[00:07:37] There are members who work for the city currently are expressing the fact that they are living and working in a city that they can’t even afford to live in.

[00:07:46] It also requires us to look at all of the services that are being offered and then we have to have the honest and transparent conversation with the community about what we can’t do and what we can’t do yet. Because there is a greater need for transparency and accountability. Something immediately that can be done is to erect a multifaceted process for community engagement.

[00:08:08] Like I said, City Hall is a great hub for people to gather and be able to share their views, share their issues and share their concerns. But we also need to be more actively engaged in going outside those four walls. It is attending those neighborhood association meetings to hear directly from people. It is showing up to businesses and hearing directly from them and how they’re being impacted by decisions on what we need to do as a city. It is also working with our local school district helping them meet the needs and the gaps. I think about the fact that 4J ranks third in the state for the amount of unhoused youth.

[00:08:45] Kaarin Knudson: I will champion a housing initiative with different components, but with one that I will highlight, which is in the downtown, specifically in our city center, as a place with extraordinary amenities in terms of what it offers as a neighborhood, but it doesn’t have the housing. It hasn’t had the housing since mid-century, when we razed a lot of the workforce housing that was in downtown Eugene. And it is far past time for us to fix that problem. It’s far past time for us to repair that harm.

[00:09:12] Downtown is unique as a place in our community in the sense that it can be a thriving neighborhood, with different districts and parts of it. right? There is a Riverfront district. There’s the area around Fifth Street Market. There’s the downtown core, there’s the area near the public library and LCC, right? There’s Midtown, even, that now people think of when they imagine downtown Eugene.

[00:09:32] Those are all areas with unique opportunities, but when you think about our housing needs, and the fact that we literally need to build hundreds and thousands of units of housing that are more affordable and more diverse in the type of household that they are serving, meaning one-person households, two-person households, single parent with kiddos, intergenerational families, right? That’s where the Downtown can help us with a lot, because we have more than 70 acres of surface parking at the center of our city, which means there are holes leading up to 70 acres of space in the center of the city.

[00:10:05] There’s extraordinary opportunity that is there, and the city can play an important part in catalyzing that change through actually pushing forward redevelopment of new housing. So I’ll absolutely be working on that.

[00:10:17] The other thing that I want to do, because it connects to some of what I do right now, is spend time in that first month in every middle school and every high school in Eugene. And actually spend time not just with the connections to kids that I currently have through my volunteer work, but to be all around the community, introducing those Eugenians, who we hope will be future long-term Eugenians, to their mayor and to talk with them about the same questions I’ve been asking to adults all around the city.

[00:10:43] What do you want to see your city be in the future? What do you want for a mayor to be working on? You all know it’s endless inspiration, but also such clarity from our young people, and I love that.

[00:10:55] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): What are the strengths and weaknesses you see in Eugene’s economy? And furthermore, how would you market Eugene to the rest of the country to address those weaknesses?

[00:11:06] Kaarin Knudson: We have extraordinary capacity right here, to offer educational opportunity and deliver a skilled workforce. Not everywhere has an LCC. Not everywhere has a University of Oregon within its city. And we can do a much better job and continue the work of actually building those connections and pipelines in our workforce, the diversity of that workforce, and the skilled capacity of that workforce. And that is what will deliver higher wages.

[00:11:30] A strength of our community can be the livability of this place. So when you think about decisions to invest in their future and to spend their lives: great schools, access to open space, feeling safe, sense of belonging in your community, right? Being able to afford housing. That’s foundational. It’s probably number one for everyone. That’s work that we can do as a city to ensure that we are growing and thriving in terms of our economic opportunity.

[00:11:55] Weaknesses: We have about 70% of our occupational groups in Lane County earning less than 100% of their money. That’s a data point that should be startling, and it’s also an area that just says this is something that we have to work on.

[00:12:10] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: When I think about the strength of our local economy, I think that we offer a rich diversity in what our amenities look like, in terms of all of the green spaces that we offer for people to have recreational space in order to connect with family, connect with community, connect with nature. I also think when I look at our local economy, one of the strengths is the diversity of industry that exists here.

[00:12:37] I think about my work as an educator and being able to serve countywide is my connection to CTE (Career and Technical Education), which serves a significant amount of pathways in order to meet the current trends for the workforce. Being able to access such great educational programs, and that’s because of the work of educators collaborating across not only K 12, but also our university and our community colleges.

[00:13:02] I also think about the strength of the people. We have great people here. We have great skill sets that are represented here, a diversity of educational levels, a diversity of interest. And I think that is something that will definitely appeal to those who are looking for a place to call home and to make Eugene their home.

[00:13:20] When I think about what our weaknesses are, some of those include, we need a greater transit infrastructure in order to create greater accessibility and move about our city. And so that means that we have to continue to work with our transit district in order to ensure that they have the drivers that they need, that they have the ability to increase the frequency of routes and the frequency of the service.

[00:13:42] We also believe that we need to increase our technology infrastructure in order so that we can increase and enhance how we are modernizing services that are being offered to those in our community.

[00:13:54] We also need to work within our business district, and it should be known that no matter where a business is, that they know they’re being supported by a city with adequate investment and infrastructure.

[00:14:04] Our businesses actually feel that in certain spaces they have not been represented well, that they may have businesses in places that have been gone forgotten. But I want to ensure that every business has a space where they know that they are existing and a place that is safe in order for them to exist and increase the generation of revenue and also increase the access for clientele.

[00:14:27] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): How will you balance more housing with the preservation of Eugene’s environment, which is really precious to most people here in this community?

[00:14:38] Kaarin Knudson: This is an issue and a balance that is very close to my heart, and in my practice as a person who is focused on sustainable urban design, this work of ensuring that our cities are meeting our community’s needs and that these are also functionally ecological places and that people in our communities and all across our community have access to that beauty and that green space this is the work, right? This is the balance.

[00:15:01] I am very excited. I’ll share with you all because it is upcoming. As a state, we are grappling with this specific question right now because we have a governor for the first time in quite some time who has said to build more housing, and we need to remove barriers. How that is often translated is, ‘We’re going to remove barriers, and that’s going to mean deregulation and loss of green space, or loss of protections that are about the welfare of people within communities.’ I do not subscribe to that view of the future.

[00:15:32] I am absolutely confident that we can accomplish more housing, we can have more housing diversity and more housing supply, and we can have more trees, we can have more urban forest canopy, more green spaces. That is absolutely an accomplishable goal, and it is a false choice when people say that having more housing options and more affordable housing will mean that we do not have a beautiful urban forest.

[00:15:54] Because most of the work that we have to do to create a beautiful, robust urban forest in Eugene is making that equitable, is actually expanding that urban forest canopy to areas of our community which are mostly our lower-income census blocks, right, and areas.

[00:16:10] In June, I’ve been asked to give the opening keynote for Oregon’s Urban Forest Conference, which is coming to Eugene for the first time. It’s usually in Portland. The reason that they’re asking me to speak at that event is because they want to move beyond this false dichotomy of housing and meeting people’s needs for green space and trees and meeting our ecology’s needs. And that is work that I do. That is the focus.

[00:16:37] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: I think addressing our housing crisis is very important to me, it’s personal to me: What policies, what ordinances have actually limited the production of housing availability and diversity in our local community? And a community where over 51%t of residents in this community are renters, but they’re not reflected in many of the governing boards and commissions that exist to actually talk about housing. And so I believe it’s important that we ensure that every voice is heard and residents represented in our decision-making process.

[00:17:11] So it also means that they have to be brought to the table in order to actually talk about housing and also look at how we are defining affordability so that it reflects the current AMI (Average Median Income) in this community.

[00:17:23] We also need to be including in that conversation: creating shelters, creating more warming and cooling centers. It also means looking at prioritizing those organizations that provide those essential services, not only housing, but mental health support, substance abuse support who are in need of additional funding and how we, as the city, are able to come alongside them to increase and expand the work they’re already doing and the great work that needs to be able to be continued.

[00:17:51] And so there are things that we can do as a city to ensure that we are creating additional housing options for individuals so that they have access to the necessary housing in this community, and so we can do that in a way that is environmentally friendly. I do believe that we need to prioritize areas where there has not been enough tree planting, so that we ensure that we’re also making sure that new buildings come with greater sustainability and environmentally friendly resources.

[00:18:19] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): So do you prefer the original parameters of House Bill 2001, middle housing or the ones extended by Eugene and why?

[00:18:28] Kaarin Knudson: House Bill 2001 relegalized housing diversity in cities in Oregon. Why was that necessary? Because in the midcentury, single family-only zoning came online in communities as a way to continue advancing racial discrimination through the local access to housing, homeownership and a safe and stable place to be in communities. That is the history of that work. I say that as an educator, as a person who shares that with my planning students and my architecture students every term, every term when I teach, I understand that context.

[00:18:59] It’s important because when people say I’m so discouraged by where we are by our policies, I can say with absolute integrity: Do not be discouraged by where we are with our policies. They’ve delivered what they were intended to deliver, but we can change them, and we can have something that is different.

[00:19:14] So, the relegalization of housing diversity in Oregon cities, which happened at the state level, it’s the right way to approach that kind of equity-oriented housing, access, housing affordability strategy. That work happened at the state level and then was pushed to cities to say, okay, we set a floor for you basically and I worked and volunteered as a part of the technical advisory committee that implemented that model code and that state-level work. And then said to cities, ‘Okay, you can either do that or you can do something that fits your needs.’

[00:19:43] Because at that point, I had already been organizing the community around our housing crisis for a couple of years, it was very easy to say to our 50 partners in Better Housing Together, which is a collective impact effort to address our local housing crisis, it’s very easy to say to that group, Do you want to do the bare minimum? Or do we want to do something that actually is closer to meeting our community’s needs? We know we have extraordinary needs around affordability. We know we need much more climate responsive housing, that too much of our housing was built with leaky windows and no insulation, right? So as we’re producing new housing, it has to be leveled up and better.

[00:20:19] And that is what we did. And the way that we did that is also really important. One of the efforts that I was a part of, not in that technical work, but in the process that led to it, was to both encourage and then also sit on a steering committee for Eugene’s first pilot of a demographically representative engagement process. What we did in that process, what the city accomplished, was to seat a community-based committee that was demographically representative of our whole community, lottery-selected, stipends to the people who were able to dedicate this time, and they worked for months to say, we want to do something more.

[00:20:55] Not surprisingly, when you have a much more inclusive process and a much more diverse collection of people involved in setting that trajectory upstream, the outcomes on the technical side are also more inclusive and also far more diverse. That’s what we accomplished in Eugene with the most forward-thinking work on housing of any, almost any city in the state.

[00:21:18] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: I appreciate that House Bill 2001 allowed and set the tone and the foundation for us to diversify our housing option and increase what has been available to us. And I think we have to address the systemic barriers, that has led to the lack of affordability of housing and accessibility to housing. And so I think that it’s so necessary that with the expansion through those middle housing codes, I believe that we will be able to see a better trajectory of housing options as we move forward.

[00:21:44] There was a mandate from the governor with a call to action with the amount of funding that is going to come down the pike in cities such as Eugene to increase affordable housing options. She released funding that allows for greater infrastructure in order to build additional housing.

[00:22:01] But I love that her call to action was, you don’t get to delay on when you create this housing. You need to go quickly to build the housing, making sure that it is sustainable, making sure that it is affordable. And in that, there is a requirement for there to be minimally 30% of that housing to be allocated to be affordable.

[00:22:20] I do appreciate that we also have the affordable housing trust. But a lot of that funding comes from that Construction Excise Tax. I want to see that increase. We want to make sure that we are maximizing our revenue sources in order to create that additional housing that is necessary.

[00:22:35] And I also think it requires us to look at when we are giving those dollars that are supposed to be for affordable housing to our developers to ensure that is actually indeed affordable and that it actually reflects the AMI that is in this community.

[00:22:58] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): So a question from our online watchers. It says my car was recently broken into and neighbors have also had car break-ins and cars stolen recently. EPD told me they don’t have staff to do neighborhood patrols. How would you address such safety concerns?

[00:23:18] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: That is a high concern to me. I think as mayor, public safety has to be a priority in this community. Everyone wants to live and work in a place that they feel safe and deem as safe. And so I think that is a necessary conversation to have not only with our law enforcement leadership, but also with people who are responsible for helping to maintain law and order and safety and security for our community about what are the best ways in order for us to meet the current needs and challenges. And we have to realize that’s going to look different from ward to ward.

[00:23:52] I also believe in community policing. Many of us may not even know the officers that are assigned to our community. We’ve never met them. We’ve never had any interaction unless we had to call 911 for emergency. That shouldn’t be your first interaction with someone who is to secure your neighborhood. I like to see our officers moving out of their cars and really interacting with community so that we can work together to build partnership, but also trust and stronger relationships with our law enforcement officers.

[00:24:22] That way, when people know you by name, they know that they have trust and they know what you have to offer. I think that also means that we need to ensure, in order to mitigate having such occurrences of having things being taken from you. for people. We have to also realize that that means we got to address the homelessness, the poverty that exists here, which is usually what their property problems more than likely that happens.

[00:24:48] And so that not a lot of it, a lot of it is actually attributed to survival. Not necessarily that they intend to do the criminal act to be hurtful or harmful. And it’s going to take us all working together. across this entire community to create the community all want to see.

[00:25:06] Kaarin Knudson: Thursday night of this week, I was at a public safety forum that the Santa Clara Community Organization held. And specifically around issues of public safety, as Shanaè just described, circumstances and what people are concerned about, people are dealing with in their communities, very widely, depending on the context.

[00:25:27] One of the things, though, that that I was reflecting on from thinking about the information shared at that event is the specifics of the criminal behavior that’s happening and the environment that that behavior is happening in. And in the case of car break-ins, people’s windows being broken in, things, backpacks being taken out of cars. These are very opportunistic decisions around criminal behavior that in our community, we have a high correlation to a person who’s struggling with addiction. And in thinking about that as a context, there are a couple of things that we can do as a community to specifically address that person’s question.

[00:26:00] One of them is to address the environment within which vehicles are sitting. And if we have sidewalks that haven’t been improved in 80 years and there’s one street lamp that’s only at the intersection and no other lights on that street, those are circumstances within which a person thinking, ‘Maybe I could break this window and grab that bag,’ that just the environment might actually shift their decision.

[00:26:25] So of course, better street lighting, a safer pedestrian realm design of places in our community to have a better relationship of buildings and neighborhood spaces and community spaces to the public realm, to the street. These are ways in which we set the game board that actually encourage more sociable behavior by people because of how we design that space and the places that people are engaging in.

[00:26:48] The other piece of that puzzle that I mentioned is the crisis of addiction in this community. And this challenge of crime and theft and vehicles and bicycles are the two areas where I’ve heard about this the most in the last nine months. That means actually doing more work to help people move out of the crisis of addiction and into recovery programs.

[00:27:07] So we as a community can do more to make sure that people who are struggling with addiction get access to recovery. And what we know from that work is that when people have access to stability and recovery, 8 out of 10 people find a new path and find stability and health.

[00:27:23] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): What, if anything, can you do to address the issue in Lane County about insurance takeovers of medical practices, the interference of private equity in our hospitals and just healthcare in general.

[00:27:38] Kaarin Knudson: These are conversations that I’m a part of and work that I absolutely am committed to being a part of in the years ahead is that we have to have better regulations in this state around the behavior of profit driven corporations. One of the first things that they do is try to push out the most experienced and most expensive people from their payrolls.

[00:27:58] Rep. Nancy Nathanson, she is very committed to helping to address that injustice and to create boundaries around that behavior.

[00:28:07] The other thing that Eugene’s mayor will need to do in the future is to help to reimagine what care looks like in this community for people. Because I know a lot of people my age and younger who have never had a primary care physician. That is not a life experience that they are a part of because they haven’t had insurance, but also because even if they had insurance, they haven’t known how to access that system, right? And so most health care that people are accessing is still in a context that feels kind of like an emergency.

[00:28:38] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: A lot of it is advocacy. It is so important that we are advocating on the behalf of residents, to have access to care that they are deserving. I think about the fact that I live downtown and we don’t even have an emergency center anymore. A place that I benefited from, have gone there for services and we no longer have that. And I believe that we can also start there reporting entities that can bring back such an essential service in a place.

[00:29:08] Because the absence of that, we know that it requires people to go longer distance in order to seek care. I think that it can create barriers to access much-needed services. I also look at the fact that it required us to increase how many fire trucks were put into use. And so there was a high demand and impact by losing such an essential service in our community, and I feel it was directly impacted because that was my main go-to if I needed emergency care in a place that I sought out.

[00:29:36] I appreciate the work of our representatives, and I even think about the work that Sen. (James) Manning has done in order to increase accessible health care for all in Oregon and making sure that it is affordable to us. And so we’re going to have to be able to work across all levels (that’s city, that’s county, and at the state level) to ensure that we are creating pathways for affordable care and greater representation of medical coverage in our community.

[00:30:04] And it’s going to have to have those conversations that we are not allowing corporations to prioritize their profits over people. And so I want to help lead the charge for those who are currently preparing for the next long session to actually adequately address this concern.

[00:30:21] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): Considering that Eugene and Oregon has a very damaging history of racism in a majority white community, resulting in a certain normalcy to the presence and experiencing of racism, how would you begin to acknowledge and effectively address racism and creatively help to make progress and heal the community overall.

[00:30:45] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: I appreciate whomever has asked that question and I think the part of it is acknowledging it just requires to acknowledge the environment that has been allowed to be cultivated in this space.

[00:30:58] As someone who moved from a very diverse community in South Florida it’s a whole version of a melting pot, to move to a very white space was its own learning experience. The first time I ever was followed in the store was here in Oregon, in my entire life. The first time being the only person that looked like me in the space was here in Oregon. And so I know that my experience is not unique to people in this room and those who are out in our community. How have we made that normalized?

[00:31:29] We have lost a lot of great individuals in this community, not because they weren’t productive, not because they didn’t want this place to be home, not because they didn’t want to have to raise children here, but because of their experiences with racism, bias, discrimination as well.

[00:31:48] I can be honest with you all, even me running in this race, I have filtered comments that you would not see in my public forum on our Facebook page from people who have said many things that I’m not a part of this community. I’m not connected to this community. That if donating to my campaign, that means donating to Black Lives Matter. These are things you don’t see, but we see on our back end. So it speaks to the nature and the thought and the minds of people who still live here.

[00:32:14] I remember when I first moved here and seeing all the beautiful yard signs, what we believe and choose kindness you know, Black Lives Matter, all these things. And I remember calling home to friends. I’m like, did we miss the yard sign a little bit? Because I’ve never seen those many yard signs in my life. But it’s one thing to have a yard sign, and it’s one thing to have equity statements, it’s another thing to act it out.

[00:32:37] And so that’s going to be looking at working with our business owners and talking about equity in their hiring practices. How are we cultivating environments that if we’re going to say we want to diversify the workforce, that means you also have to change the work environment in which people are and you have to ensure that when we are supporting other cultures, that we’re not just only putting our money behind. We’re putting our mouth behind it, that we are looking at the fact that we have sister cities.

[00:33:01] How many of you know what our sister cities are in Eugene? How are we actually doing actual cultural exchange? How are we even doing exchange for businesses with our sister cities? So there’s great work to be done, but it’s also by leading by example. And it’s beyond just my lived experience, but as someone who has been certified to do work in diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

[00:33:24] It’s going to take collective effort to adequately address what’s been normalized here.

[00:33:30] Kaarin Knudson: Everything that Shanaè just shared with you is absolutely true, that that path into our future has to come from community and has to be working together.

[00:33:39] When I think specifically about this question and that normalizing of whiteness and of an institutionalization, an expression of white supremacy, it filters in everything and is present in policies and is a pattern, right? And humans and patterns, we can’t just observe them. We have to actually change them. We have to actually do something different.

[00:34:03] So when I think specifically about that work, and what I could offer to this community as a future mayor, I think about substantive representation. I think about what (Heather) McGhee would call ‘the solidarity dividend’ within a community. And that in a community like ours that has such a majority of Caucasian people, white people, that for us to be able to understand the ways in which racism and racist behavior and institutionalized discrimination harms our whole community is crucial to moving our whole community forward, because there are a lot of people in the middle of our community that I think believe themselves to be separate from this experience, and we are not. We are all in this experience of community and this community together.

[00:34:52] When I teach to my students and talk with them about this history, many of them new to Oregon, but some of them from Oregon, it’s their first introduction to exclusionary law. It’s their first introduction to the ways in which Oregon was wholly unique in our embrace of a white state and not even allowing for Black people to be here. It’s new information which I will tell you is startling to me, because I grew up in places that had a much more robust connection, even at a young age in elementary school, among different cultures and multiracial, multicultural opportunities within communities.

[00:35:31] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): In November, 2020, Creswell, which is only 14 miles away from Eugene, elected its first woman for mayor. She won with 55% of the vote, yet was pushed out of town by Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, citing undue stress in August of 2021. As mayor, how do you plan to protect yourself from what your leadership means to the immature among us?

[00:35:57] Kaarin Knudson: I’ve had more than a few people get a little bit teary when they think about the future that that I’m stepping into, because they know the love that I hold for this community, they know the hope that I have for this community and they know how hard I work, and they know the context of the challenges that we have. And it’s going to be hard work. There’s serious work that we have ahead of us as a community, and there are going to continue to be emergencies that are in the foreground while, we also need to be steering this ship in a different direction into the future. And that is hard.

[00:36:31] What I’ve already done, and I will just share with you all, is to think about the ways in which I can continue to prepare myself for that work, the ways in which I can continue to practice self-compassion and compassion for others. When asked about the values that lead me, professionally and personally, compassion is always at the top of that list.

[00:36:51] But we don’t make it easy to step up into these kinds of roles. Exclusion, I think, is baked into the structure at a lot of different levels, and I shared that openly with people who are currently in office, with our current mayor, and others, that we make it really, really difficult for people to actually say, ‘Yes, I would like to be a public servant.’

[00:37:14] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): How do you plan to protect yourself from what your leadership means to the immature among us?

[00:37:19] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: It’s not an easy decision, there’s so many things that you take into consideration. I looked at time and capacity: Do I have the time to commit to the work? Do I have the capacity to do the work? And so once those conditions were met, it was something that continued this discussion and here I am standing before you today, as a candidate for mayor.

[00:37:40] The fact of the matter is people are going to be people, but in spite of whatever level of ignorance, whatever level of fear, whatever level of misinformation is out there, when you know your purpose, when you know why you’re doing this thing, you can ignore all of that and drown out the noise because your purpose will rain louder.

[00:38:01] Tiffany Lewis (KVAL, moderator): Universities are chronically underutilized.. How do you envision the UO partnering with the city during your administration? And then a second question, how would you partner to address housing and workplace discrimination among BIPOC college students? Those go hand in hand.

[00:38:23] Kaarin Knudson: A lot of that comes down to understanding the ways in which the success of the University and the success of our city are actually linked to one another.

[00:38:31] The University is a major employer, and all of those people need access to housing that they can afford, and not all of those people are employed  as tenure-track professors with the benefits and access to a long-term career stability. So there is work, I think, that our city and the University can do around housing.

[00:38:48] We’ve spent a couple of years in community conversations focused on greenhouse gases, focused on emissions, but not gotten to policy outcomes. Then, meanwhile, just a mile away at the University, there’s a decision that’s happening with that board that directly influences all of that work and all of those very same metrics.

[00:39:07] Those moments when you realize that they are just slipping through our fingers as opportunities for our city and our university to be more organized and connected in our shared work, that to me, I mean it sounds discouraging, but it’s not. You’re going to get to know this about me. Pretty much everything discouraging, I will find a way to turn it into something that we can work on.

[00:39:25] And that is a great example because not a lot of people in the community even knew that that was happening. And we’ve been very focused on a conversation about greenhouse gas emissions that ended up not being productive. It was related to the natural gas ban and new residential construction that helped us to move towards electrification. That went on for a couple of years. And this decision alone would have done more than that. All of that work.

[00:39:52] Shanaè Joyce-Stringer: I look at my ability in my time here to establish partnerships. I currently sit on Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Education Committee. I’ve been able to be a part of discussions to expand access to art as a healing therapy for those who are suffering from postpartum, those who are caregivers, those in the medical profession, and even those who are currently dealing with cancer.

[00:40:18] And so being able to expand some opportunities in the community with some of the U of O entities I’ve been part of those conversations, and we’ve been talking about: How do we expand our reach into the community? I have brought community into Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Arts. I looked at some of the projects I’ve done around literacy, the second series in our Storytime Tribe featured more employees from the University of Oregon than any other entity in this community.

[00:40:43] And what I would say to all of this is when people know your ‘why,’ they commit. When people know why you’re doing this thing, why you’re creating that thing, it gets them involved. It gets them engaged. They usually don’t say no.

[00:40:57] And so I look at my experience to create access and remove barriers to the community. I want to continue to expand on that and be able to look at the University of Oregon as not its own separate entity, but also an essential function into our community.

[00:41:14] John Q: Candidates for mayor answer questions from KVAL reporter and moderator Tiffany Lewis at the People’s Collective May 5. Ballots are due May 21.

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