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Sheltercare Senior Staffer Considering Run For Mayor

Lucy Vinis
Lucy Vinis

Last week, the latest potential candidate for Eugene mayor announced her “serious intention” of running for the mayor’s office in 2016. Candidates can’t file for the 2016 Eugene race until September, but ShelterCare Developmental Director Lucy Vinis told EW that she is currently “in a very serious exploration.” 

Vinis has spent the last six and a half years at ShelterCare, a local nonprofit that, among other things, provides emergency services, shelter and support for homeless individuals and families. She says her job as developmental director entails “engaging the community in understanding and supporting the work that ShelterCare does” to help the unhoused. 

“She’s a very collaborative, positive, energetic person,” ShelterCare Executive Director Susan Ban says. “I have a high degree of trust in her. She’s a great team player.”

Before joining ShelterCare, Vinis worked with Eugene-Springfield’s EarthShare of Oregon, a nonprofit that rallies workplaces to support environmental causes. 

She has also volunteered in the 4J school system and is the founder of Youth Visions, a nonprofit that supports short films made by high school students. The program still runs under the guidance of the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts (DIVA).

Although Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy says she is not making endorsements at this time, she tells EW in an email that she is “very pleased that Lucy has decided to run for mayor. I have known her for a number of years and have confidence in her values, ethics and ability to lead.” 

Piercy is not seeking reelection after this, her third term, is finished.

Vinis says she was Eugene City Councilor Alan Zelenka’s campaign manager in 2006, and she was active in Piercy’s 2008 campaign for mayor.

She says her background in nonprofits has well equipped her for the job of mayor. “I do feel that my work with ShelterCare and EarthShare of Oregon, building that strong community conversation around a particular issue and engaging people to find solutions, is good preparation for running for the mayor’s office,” Vinis says.

Ban says that Vinis has exhibited strong leadership qualities at ShelterCare. “I have really appreciated that she can pull community members into a committee to work on a specific project — she’s able to listen carefully to a lot of different ideas and then help weave them into a cohesive product, always making sure that everybody has been heard,” Ban says. “She’s a natural leader.”