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New Leadership Rises In The Whit

The Whiteaker neighborhood underwent something of a Velvet Revolution April 23 as residents of Eugene’s artsy neighborhood elected a total of 13 new members to the Whiteaker Community Council (WCC), including incoming chairman Sam Hahn and secretary David Nickles, author of the recent Whiteaker Manifesto.

Driven in large part by concerns over rumors of a proposed noise ordinance and zoned parking, more than 75 residents packed the small meeting room Wednesday at the Whiteaker School, mirroring a scene from two weeks prior when a strong showing by many of the same people inspired outgoing chair Brad Foster to reschedule the April 9 annual elections.

The tone of the WCC elections was for the most part cooperative and progressive, as nominations for new board seats were proposed and candidates offered brief campaign pitches. Many of the incoming board members called for an open dialogue among residents about the direction the Whit is taking in development, growth and livability, with issues of noise created by live music and the parking crunch coming to the fore.

Hahn, a co-owner of Blairalley Vintage Arcade, said he’s encouraged by the growing involvement among residents. “The election turnout is an indication that people are willing to erase some of the lines that have been drawn in the sand in the neighborhood,” he said. “As chairperson of the most diverse board that the WCC has seen in years, we have an opportunity to protect and serve one of the last little slices of Bohemia left in America.”

Along with Hahn and Nickles, residents elected vice-chair Jevon Peck, proprietor of Tiny Tavern, as well as returning treasurer Dennis Ramsey, who has served on WCC the past two years. Also re-elected to the general board was outgoing chair Foster, as well as a maximum limit of new members that includes Justin Sheppard, Emily Nyman, Jason Vanderhaar, Sarah Beaulieu, Christine Anderson, Chris Gadsby, Jerry Davis, Rio Towner, Marsha Knee and Cathy Kapelka.

Ramsey said he’s encouraged by this burst of interest in the WCC and the neighborhood in general. “We have been struggling for years to get the community to become active and aware around issues of parking, noise and zoning, and we’ve had a lot of difficulty because people are very apathetic here,” he said. “I feel wonderful about what happened, because we finally have the community in dialogue with each other. And from that only good can come.”

WCC next meets 7 pm Wednesday, May 14, at Whiteaker School. For more info, visit Whiteaker Neighbors Open Group at http://wkly.ws/1qk