Despite fears that the pattern of attacks on progressive Lane County commissioners from the right over the last several years would scare good people away from politics, possible progressive candidates are already starting to explore running for the West Lane (Jay Bozievich) and East Lane (Faye Stewart) commission seats. Dawn Lesley, a soon-to-be graduate of the 2013 class of Emerge Oregon, a training program for Democratic women, is exploring a run against Bozievich for 2014.
Lesley, who is a water/wastewater energy efficiency engineer at Cascade Energy, Inc., has formed the candidate committee Dawn Lesley for Action, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website. The committee is reporting $3,500 in contributions, and while most donations have been small, under $100, City Councilor Alan Zelenka is among those who have given $250 or more. When contacted by EW for an interview on her possible bid to replace the libertarian Bozievich, Lesley said, “I am considering a run for the West Lane County Commissioner seat; I haven’t made any final decisions.”
County Commission seats are nonpartisan, but Lane County’s commission votes have been sharply divided along political lines. The County Commission’s votes affect everything from land use to logging to water protection.
Lesley has a master’s in biosource engineering from Oregon State and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in biology. Lesley will be graduating in September from the Emerge Oregon program, she says.
According to Emerge board member Kamala Shugar, the program provides 70 hours of training and the graduates come out “ready to run.” Shugar says 54 percent of Emerge graduates run for office and 81 percent win. Board members cannot endorse graduates per Emerge policy, Shugar says, but she points to the successes of previous graduates, which include, in the Oregon Legislature alone, House Majority leader Val Hoyle and Reps. Jennifer Williamson, Jessica Vega Pederson, Shemia Fagan and Alyssa Keny-Guyer.
As EW has previously reported, East Lane’s Stewart is facing three progressive candidates: Kevin Matthews, Jose Ortal and Joann Ernst. The East and West Lane commission seats represent the largest swathes of rural land in the county. Sid Leiken’s Springfield seat is also in play on the five-member Lane County Commission for the 2014 election.