As the 2018 midterm elections approach, politicians in Oregon and Lane County faced their first major test: the May 15 primaries. Governor Kate Brown is running for her first full term in office, and all five of Oregon’s United States House of Representatives seats are up for grabs. In Lane County, three Board of County Commissioners seats saw highly contested races. In Eugene proper, two dueling measures to install a City Auditor — one proposed by the citizens of the city, the other approved by the city council — finally had their day at the ballots. The city also voted for two contested city council positions, a seat on the Eugene Water and Electric Board, and two measures to help pay for parks and recreation services.
Only 28 percent of registered voters in Lane County returned ballots in the primary election, the lowest voter turnout since the 2012 primaries.
Here are the results of the city, county, state and federal-level primaries relevant to Lane County.
Governor: Kate Brown (D) vs. Knute Buehler (R)
Gov. Brown is running for her first full term as Governor, having won a special election in 2016 to replace former Gov. John Kitzhaber after his resignation in 2015. (Brown was Kitzhaber’s Secretary of State and became interim governor after he left office.) Brown remains popular among left-leaning Oregon voters — particularly through her stances on gun control and women’s issues — though budget mismanagement concerns are beginning to weigh on her government.
Knute Buehler currently serves in the Oregon House of Representatives, representing District 54 around Bend. Rep. Buehler beat out ten other Republican hopefuls for the GOP nomination for governor, though the race was closer than many pundits predicted. Even before securing the nomination, Rep. Buehler began releasing attack ads against Gov. Brown, criticizing her education and tax policies and promising to balance Oregon’s budget and solve the Public Employee Retirement Fund crisis if elected. Oregon’s last Republican governor was Victor Atiyeh, who served two terms between 1979 and 1987.
According to an Oregon Public Broadcasting poll, Gov. Brown holds an early lead over Rep. Buehler, 46 percent to 29 percent, though many respondents admitted that they knew next to nothing about Rep. Buehler or his policies.
U.S House of Representatives (District 4): Peter DeFazio (D) vs. Art Robinson (R)
Rep. Peter DeFazio of Springfield has represented Oregon’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1987 and holds a favorable rating among district voters. According to his campaign website and his voting record, he supports legislation to combat climate change, regularly criticizes corporate banking and is a supporter of gay rights.
This is Art Robinson’s fifth attempt to unseat Rep. DeFazio, having run against the representative in every election since 2010. Robinson, a career biochemist, previously served as chairman of the Republican Party of Oregon from 2013 to 2015. According to his campaign website, Robinson is an advocate for nuclear power, holds strong views against climate science and prefers homeschooling to public education.
The 4th District includes Lane, Linn, Coos, Curry and Douglas counties and most of Benton and Josephine counties, stretching from the foothills of the Cascades out to the Pacific coast. It traditionally votes Democratic, though Hillary Clinton won the district by 0.1 percent in the last election.
State Senate (6th District): Lee Beyer (D) vs. Robert Schwartz (R)
The race for the 6th District seat in the Oregon Senate — which includes the area around Springfield and portions of southern Linn County — pits incumbent Senator Lee Beyer against Robert Schwartz.
Sen. Beyer, a former Lane Community College student and Springfield City Council member, has represented the district since 2010. He is the chair of the Business and Transportation Committee in the Senate, and serves on the Oregon Global Warming Commission, Springfield Planning Commission and on the Board of the Wildish Theater in Springfield.
Schwartz, a ballroom dance instructor from Springfield, is running for State Senate for the first time. He ran for the 12th District of the Oregon House of Representatives in 2016 and was defeated by incumbent John Lively. According to his campaign website, Schwartz aims to improve education regarding firearms, reform health care and he condemns large corporate donors in local elections.
State Senate (7th District): James I. Manning, Jr. (D) is running unopposed
James I. Manning Jr., a veteran and former Eugene Water and Electric Board member who was appointed to the 7th District seat in 2016, will not face a Republican challenger in the 2018 election. According to his campaign, Sen. Manning’s platform is centered around veterans’ care, funding public education and promoting living wage jobs.
The 7th District covers North and West Eugene, Santa Clara and Junction City.
State Representative (7th District): Cedric Hayden (R) vs. Christy Inskip (D)
The race for the 7th District of the Oregon House of Representatives has incumbent Cedric Hayden facing off against political newcomer Christy Inskip.
Rep. Hayden, a licensed dentist and business owner from Fall Creek, is completing his second term as the 7th District representative. He is an avid supporter of Second Amendment rights, reviving Oregon’s timber industry, privatizing health care and reducing class sizes in Oregon schools.
Inskip, who currently works for Lane County Public Health as a Senior Health Community Analyst, is running for office for the first time. Her platform is based around improving access to health care, increasing teacher pay and investing in small businesses.
The 7th District covers most of rural eastern Lane and Douglas counties, including the towns of Oakridge, Lowell, Cottage Grove and outer parts of Roseburg.
State Representative (8th District): Paul R. Holvey (D) is running unopposed
Paul R. Holvey, a former LCC student and current Speaker Pro Tempore of the Oregon House of Representatives, will not face a Republican challenger in the 2018 election. Rep. Holvey campaign promises included driving sustainable growth, infrastructure investment and improving funding for education.
The 8th District encompasses a small portion of the South Hills area of Eugene and the rural areas around Veneta, Elmira, Crow and Lorane.
State Representative (9th District): Caddy McKeown (D) vs. Teri Grier (R)
The race for the 9th District in the Oregon House features a rare event in American politics: two women running against one another. Three-term incumbent Caddy McKeown of Coos Bay is running against Teri Grier of North Bend to represent a district that stretches down the Oregon Coast from Yachats to Coos Bay.
Rep. McKeown, a former member of the Coos Bay School Board and the Board of the Port of Coos Bay, campaigns on improving infrastructure investment along the Oregon Coast, raising the education budget and maintaining the natural beauty of the sea-facing district.
Grier, who has worked in the Arizona House of Representatives and a district director in Washington, D.C., has built her platform around providing stable, affordable housing along the Oregon Coast, protecting Second Amendment rights and lowering taxes for rural, low-income families.
State Representative (11th District): Marty Wilde (D) vs. Mark F. Herbert (R)
Oregon’s 11th District — which covers a vast rural area from Shedd and Halsey in the north to portions of southeastern Eugene and Creswell to the south — features two political newcomers vying to replace outgoing representative Phil Barnhardt, who is retiring after 17 years.
Wilde, a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a colonel in the Oregon Air National Guard, is running on a platform that focuses on improving access to education and lowering costs for college and universities, investing in clean energy jobs and fighting for women’s reproductive rights.
Herbert, a former corporate executive for Oregon Community Credit Union and corporate consultant, has a platform centered around reforming health care and fostering public/private partnerships to increase access to affordable health care and public education.
State Representative (12th District): John Lively (D) is running unopposed
Rep. John Lively will be running unopposed in the November election. Rep. Lively has represented the 12th District, which covers the Springfield area, since 2013. He currently serves on the Oregon Transportation and Economic Development Committee, the House Health Care Committee and chairs the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committees. His platform is focused on reducing regulations on small businesses and maintaining affordable housing prices.
State Representative (13th District): Nancy Nathanson (D) is running unopposed
Rep. Nancy Nathanson, who has represented the 13th District since 2006, will not have a challenger in the November election. Rep. Nathanson is currently the Vice Chair of the Oregon House Ways and Means Committee and previously served as a member of the Eugene City Council. Her platform is centered around improving public safety and reducing environmental impacts caused by industry and urban growth.
The 13th District covers the North Eugene area between Interstate 105 and the McKenzie River.
State Representative (14th District): Julie Fahey (D) vs. Rich Cunningham (R)
The race for the 14th District — which covers West Eugene and Junction City — pits one-term incumbent Julie Fahey against Rich Cunningham, a member of the Bethel School District board.
Rep. Fahey currently serves on the Business & Labor, Economic Development & Trade, and Higher Education & Workforce Development Committees in the Oregon House, and previously served as Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Lane County. Rep. Fahey’s platform focuses on supporting working families and creating living wage jobs, as well as improving high school graduation rates.
Rich Cunningham places education and job creation on the forefront of his platform. He vows to open public lands along Highway 99 for business development, introduce legislation to fund public schools and grant all families access to universal health care.
West Lane County Commissioner: Jay Bozievich (winner)
Jay Bozievich defeated a challenge from LCC instructor Nora Kent to retain his seat on the Board of County Commissioners. Bozievich — a lifelong engineer, former LCC Board member and current chairman of the Board of County Commissioners — has served since 2010, but has recently faced criticism from some of his constituents and a community movement to ban aerial herbicide spraying in Lane County regarding campaign contributions from timber and construction companies. Bozievich vows to increase public safety, continue to monitor county spending and boost the local economy.
Springfield County Commissioner: Joe Berney (winner)
Joe Berney achieved a rare feat by defeating incumbent commissioner and former Springfield mayor Sid Leiken for the Springfield seat on the Board of County Commissioners by a 600-vote margin. Berney, who owns a business dedicated to investing in clean energy operations, vows to prioritize health care and affordable housing as well as improving social welfare programs for disadvantaged residents of the county.
East Lane County Commissioner: Heather Buch vs. Gary Williams (run-off)
Gary Williams — the incumbent commissioner for East Lane County — and Heather Buch — a commercial real estate and property manager — is heading to a November run-off. The two candidates received 31 percent of the vote for the seat, which triggers a run-off according to the Lane County charter.
Williams, a former mayor of Cottage Grove, was appointed to the commissioner seat in 2017 after Faye Stewart resigned to head the Cottage Grove Public Works Department. Williams’ platform includes finding solutions to homelessness and promoting services for children, families and the elderly.
Buch, who serves on several advisory committees regarding affordable housing and veterans’ affairs in Lane County, aims to improve the quality and affordability of health care for low-income families, protecting natural forest lands and promoting programs that address poverty in the county.
Eugene City Councilor (Ward 3): Alan Zelenka (winner)
Alan Zelenka overcame challenges from community organizer Hugh Paterson III and Army veteran Thomas Bruno to win a fourth term on the Eugene City Council. Zelenka, an energy consultant, built his platform around sustainable development, combating climate change and maintaining access to affordable housing.
Ward 3 encompasses southeast Eugene, including the area around the University of Oregon.
Eugene City Councilor (Ward 5): Mike Clark (winner)
Incumbent councilor Mike Clark narrowly defeated real estate agent Christopher Dean to keep his seat on the Eugene City Council. Clark, who has served on the council since 2006, has made a name for himself in local politics, especially during his run for Eugene mayor in 2016 and a highly-publicized battle to force the city council to say the pledge of allegiance before every meeting. His platform is centered around increasing public safety, expanding infrastructure investment and maintaining affordable housing costs.
Ward 5 covers north-central Eugene, stretching from the Willamette River to the Coburg town limits.
Springfield City Councilor (Ward 1): Sean M. VanGordon (winner)
Sean VanGordon, current president of the Springfield City Council, defeated LCC student Michael Morris to earn a third term on the council. Morris dropped out of the race in April but missed the deadline to have his name removed from the ballot. VanGordon, an industrial engineer for United Healthcare, campaigned on increasing transportation investment and improving access to city services.
Ward 1 covers northwest Springfield, bordered by Interstate 5 to the west, Highway 126 to the south, and the McKenzie River to the northeast.
Springfield City Councilor (Ward 2): Steve Moe (winner)
Steve Moe, “the unofficial mayor of Glenwood,” defeated James Yarnall, a retired plumber and construction worker, to win his first term on the Springfield City Council. Moe — who had lived in Glenwood his entire life before moving to Springfield proper — has been a notable figure in Springfield’s politics for many years, and led the charge to transfer jurisdiction of Glenwood from Eugene to Springfield in 1999. Moe’s platform focuses on continuing the revitalization of downtown Springfield, repairing the city’s infrastructure and investing money to develop the Glenwood area.
Ward 2 encompasses southeast Springfield, including downtown and portions of Glenwood.
Eugene Water and Electric Board (At-large member): Mindy Schlossberg (winner)
Mindy Schlossberg defeated three other candidates to earn EWEB’s at-large commissioner seat. Schlossberg — who previously worked for several non-profit environmental organizations — is focused on maintaining EWEB’s environmentally-conscious policies, keep utility costs low for disadvantaged families and improving collaboration between Eugene’s various public agencies.
Measure 20-283: City of Eugene Elected Auditor
No: 53 percent
Yes: 47 percent
Measure 20-287: City of Eugene Council-Appointed Auditor
No: 75 percent
Yes: 25 percent
After months of vigorous debate and grassroots campaigning, the citizen effort to create an elected city auditor position for the City of Eugene ultimately failed at the polls. The city council-approved auditor measure, which would have given the council the authority to appoint its own auditor, was also struck down by voters. Supporters of the citizen-sponsored measure — the first citizen petition to make it on the ballot in 22 years — claim that the council introduced their own auditor measure to intentionally divide the vote and defeat both measures.
The city auditor’s role would have been to monitor civic spending and ensure that city agencies were efficiently using their resources.
Measure 20-288: City of Eugene Parks Levy
Yes: 65 percent
No: 35 percent
Measure 20-289: City of Eugene Parks Bonds
Yes: 62 percent
No: 38 percent
Eugene voters approved two measures to fund the Department of Parks and Recreation for the next five years. The bond gives the department nearly $40 million to improve existing park services and fund construction projects, including the proposed riverfront park on the old EWEB site along the Willamette River. The levy gives the department $3.15 million over five years to hire new employees and streamline maintenance projects in existing parks.