June 20, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Who won the May 21 elections? Eugene realtors

4 min read
While election results generally corresponded to campaign contributions, Shanaè Joyce-Stringer, Eliza Kashinsky, Zach Mulholland, Tim Morris, and Lisa Fragala outperformed, receiving higher percentages of votes than donations.

by John Quetzalcoatl Murray

Who won the May 21 elections? Local realtors.

Donating an eye-popping $268,073.28 across selected Eugene-area races since Aug. 14, the political action committee “Eugene REALTORS for Community” contributed more than the next 35 donors combined.

The realtors’ PAC donations helped push five local campaigns to nearly insurmountable leads, according to results released 11 p.m. election night.

Kaarin Knudson led for mayor with nearly 75% of the votes, while Pat Farr (58%) and Laurie Trieger (87%) led their county commissioner races and Eliza Kashinsky (66.5%) and Matt Keating (71.6%) led for their city council seats.

The realtors gave Kaarin Knudson $136,948.40 for mayor, gave Pat Farr $55,529.01 and Laurie Trieger $54,474.46 for county commissioner, and gave Ward 1 candidate Eliza Kashinsky and Ward 2 candidate Matt Keating $1,000 each.

And while the realtors also donated to one of Eliza’s Ward 1 opponents, their $13,789.81 investment in Ethan Clevenger also served to help publicize the campaign for more housing downtown.

The only realtor-supported candidate trailing in the count Tuesday night was Kim Arscott for the EWEB Wards 1 & 8 board seat.

While the realtors PAC invested in five candidates on the brink of victory, two individual donors and another PAC did even better. Patty Hine, Edward Goehring, and the “Building A Stronger Oregon” PAC picked six of the likely winners.

Patty Hine donated to Lyndsie Leech ($1750), Laurie Trieger ($1000), Lisa Fragala ($1000), Kaarin Knudson ($500), Timothy Morris ($250), and Eliza Kashinsky ($250). She also contributed to two candidates trailing in the results at 11 p.m. Tuesday, Zach Mulholland ($500) and Doyle Canning ($250).

Edward Goehring was six for six, with donations to Kaarin Knudson ($6,000), Matt Keating ($2,250), Lisa Fragala ($1,000), Lyndsie Leech ($500), Eliza Kashinsky ($500), and Laurie Trieger ($500).

The carpenters’ political action committee “Building A Stronger Oregon” powered Lisa Fragala ($15,000), Matt Keating ($3,000), Laurie Trieger ($2,500), Kaarin Knudson ($2,000), Lyndsie Leech ($1,000), and Randy Groves ($1,000, running unopposed). The PAC also supported one candidate trailing late Tuesday night, Ted Coopman ($3,000).

Also among the top campaign donors overall, Peter Dragovich donated to four campaigns likely to prevail: Lyndsie Leech ($5,000), Tim Morris ($2,000), Laurie Trieger ($1,000), and Kaarin Knudson ($600). He also donated to Doyle Canning ($500).

Other top donors overall included bell+funk, with $15,917.51 to Kaarin Knudson, and the Oregon Education Association’s OEA-PAC with $15,449.66 to Lisa Fragala for state House District 8.

The 11 p.m. election night results—which typically include ballots collected on the morning of election day—showed few competitive races, with the closest margin at at 58%-42% in the Pat Farr and Zach Mulholland contest for county commissioner.

Data from the Oregon Secretary of State’s campaign finance database shows that a candidate’s share of votes generally followed the share of total campaign contributions.

That rule of thumb did not apply in races with more than two candidates, such as the three-person Ward 1 race, where both Ted Coopman ($33,381.50) and Ethan Clevenger ($24,868.81) raised more money than Eliza Kashinsky ($22,644.85), but Eliza led Tuesday night with 66.5% of the vote.

Campaign donations also did not translate to voting results on local measures. Although supporters raised more funds than opponents, STAR voting and the new Eugene Emeralds stadium at the fairgrounds were both trailing in the 11 p.m. returns by virtually identical margins, 67% to 33%.

“STAR Voting for Eugene Elections” raised $53,680.54, while the PAC “Communities of Color for Inclusive Democracy,” which opposed STAR voting, raised $35,300.

“Let’s Build it Lane County!” raised $92,000 in support of a multi-use stadium at the Lane County fairgrounds, with $80,000 of that coming from the Eugene Emeralds Baseball Club. The other political action committee registered with the Oregon Secretary of State for stadium measure 20-358, “Taxpayers for Transparency,” did not show any transactions as of election day.

The realtors’ investment is likely to pay off almost immediately. Mayoral candidate Kaarin Knudson said she plans to announce a major initiative to construct housing downtown during her first 30 days in office.

As the realtors PAC recognized, increasing housing growth and density sets our Big Ten college town on a path to new jobs and revenue from the real estate sector. Given that the prosperity of that sector is based on lands wrested from Indigenous societies, local leaders could also see new demands—and with new revenue, new opportunities—to move from land acknowledgements toward truth and reconciliation.

Campaign finance data was retrieved from the Secretary of State ORESTAR database on election day, May 21, 2024, for 10 selected Eugene-area campaigns. These included Eugene mayor and City Council Wards 1, 2, 7 and 8; Lane County races for district attorney, North Eugene commissioner, and South Eugene commissioner; the EWEB board of directors position representing Wards 1 & 8; and Oregon state House District 8.

Data for most campaigns was collected starting Aug. 14, 2023, which marked the first entry in Kaarin Knudson’s campaign records. Ward 7 data was collected starting Nov. 8, 2023, the day after the Nov. 7, 2023 election.

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