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Campaign Donations & the Ward 1 City Council Race

The Eugene City Council Ward 1 race is a contest of progressive candidate versus progressive candidate. The list of supporters and donors to opponents Emily Semple and Josh Skov reads like a who’s who of Eugene Democrats. 

Recently, however, other donors have raised eyebrows.

Skov supporter Marshall Wilde (see his letter this issue) pointed out that Semple had accepted a $300 campaign donation from Robert Macherione, the Our Money, Our Transit founder known for his vehement opposition to Eugene’s EmX bus rapid transit.

Skov said of the donation, “I’m surprised that she actually accepted that money from the angriest anti-transit voice in the community, but I’m hoping it was just a slip-up. There’s still time for her to return the money, of course.”

Semple says that the money would not affect her votes were she to be elected to the City Council, and support from Macherione “points to my ability to get along with divergent viewpoints, which is one of the strengths I bring.” 

She says her background facilitating consensus meetings — where all participants must agree on a decision — with Occupy Eugene taught her “how to listen to everybody. As grueling as it was, people at least felt heard.”

Semple’s donations since also include longtime progressive politico Scott Bartlett ($1,500), Deborah Noble of the Be-Noble Foundation, ($1,550) EW co-owner Art Johnson ($1,000), Helen Shepard ($4,610), former city councilor Bonny McCornack ($100), Beyond Toxics board president David Monk ($100) and County Commissioner Pete Sorenson ($100). Semple has raised a total of almost $30,000 according to the OreStar database.

Skov has raised almost $56,000. He says that while The Register-Guard reported that he has spent almost $30,000 with New York-based political consulting firm BerlinRosen, it was not reported that “more than three-quarters of the money spend on BerlinRosen went to an Oregon-based union print shop to print on recycled paper with soy-based ink.”

Skov’s recent progressive donors include Shawn Donille of Mountain Rose Herbs ($2,000), EWEB commissioner John Brown ($500), Tom Bowerman of PolicyInteractive ($1,000) and Mayor Kitty Piercy ($250). Also on his list of donors is John Rowell of Rowell Brokaw Architects ($500) which, together with The Miller Hull Partnership, did the design for the new Eugene City Hall. 

Skov says Rowell is among his donors “who are very interested in downtown” and are “concerned about homelessness and public safety and a humane and workable solution.”

The most recent projected cost for the design, demolition work and site preparation for City Hall was estimated at about $28 million.

Skov also received donations from Gary and Julaine Wildish ($100 each). Gary Wildish is a former project manager for Chambers Construction and former vice president of Wildish Land Company. 

This story has been updated.