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Best of Eugene Readers Poll 2017-2018 - Kapow! Civics

Best Local Politician

1. Congressman Peter DeFazio

2. Mayor Lucy Vinis

3. Former Mayor Kitty Piercy

Photo: Todd Cooper

 

Best Local World-Changer

1. Congressman Peter DeFazio

2. Mark Frohnmayer Arcimoto

3. Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana plaintiff with the Our Children’s Trust climate lawsuit

Congressman Peter DeFazio was elected in 1986. He’s now “the longest serving House member in Oregon’s history,” according to his website. He sat down with Eugene Weekly to talk about his biggest current challenges and winning Best World-Changer and Best Local Politician. We’ve gotta say, we love how he shows up to speeches wearing his Smokey Bear “Resist” t-shirt and his don’t-take-any-crap-from-anyone attitude that he attributes to his wrestling coach, who was also his dad. 

How does it feel to be selected by Eugene Weekly readers as a World-Changer and Best Local Politician?

World-changer is a new one to me. That’s incredible — I hope I can. I’m trying to keep Trump from starting World War III. I’ve got a war powers resolution to fix the War Powers Act and require prior authorization before any offensive action by the president. Right now the law would allow him to attack North Korea, then report to Congress later — a little too late. I guess I am trying to change the world. I also happen to believe that climate change is a serious problem, which unfortunately doesn’t enjoy a majority support in Washington, D.C . — detached from reality right now. I guess I do deal with world problems. 

Local politician, I think I’ve gotten that award before. I’m honored to get that. I work in a really difficult environment now, and getting a little support at home is really welcome. 

Why did you originally decide to run for office?

Oh, that was a long time ago. I worked for the former Congressman Jim Weaver, learned a lot from him and ultimately I was working for him in Washington, hated Washington and wanted to come back to Oregon. I lived in Springfield, and Springfield at that point owned a minuscule part of the Washington public power supply system; they had a proposal to build five nuclear plants. The plants were billions of dollars over budget, indebting my tiny little town. I got involved in that and filed a lawsuit that was ultimately successful. A lot of people were saying to me "You know you should run for office," because I had held some of the first demonstrations ever in the city of Springfield. We surrounded the utility board, burned our bills and a few other things. I then decided to run for county commissioner against the incumbent Republican county commissioner. 

What do you think your biggest challenge is going to be in the coming couple of weeks and years? 

The thing that’s taking most of my time right now is stopping the chairman of the [House] Transportation Committee from privatizing air traffic control in the United States and giving control of it to the airlines, who in my opinion don’t run their own airlines very well — let alone taking over our national airspace.

Has the president tried to work at all on coming to the other side of the aisle?

I have not met with the president; I have met with his chief infrastructure guru and, unfortunately, his predilection is to privatize our infrastructure. I’m trying to bring them around to something that might really work, as opposed to something that’s ideological and that isn’t going to work. They’re some radical proposals. — Corinne Boyer

 

Best Animal Nonprofit

1. Greenhill Humane Society 88530 Green Hill Rd. 541-689-1503. green-hill.org.

2. Luvable Dog Rescue P.O. Box 50367. luvabledogrescue.org.

3. SARA’s Treasures 871 River Rd. 541-607-8892. sarasavesanimals.org.

 

Best Local Nonprofit

1. FOOD for Lane County 770 Bailey Hill Rd. 541-343-2822. foodforlanecounty.org

2. St. Vincent de Paul 555 High St. 541-344-2115; 100 E. 11th Ave. 541-868-0200. svdp.us.

3. Greenhill Humane Society 88530 Green Hill Rd. 541-689-1503. green-hill.org.

A shake-up in the top three! After a year away from the crown, FOOD for Lane County recaptures its title as Eugene’s favorite nonprofit. The hunger-fighting organization served more than 80,000 meals to children around the county this summer and continues to grow its services. From youth farm roadside stands to job training at its warehouses, FOOD for Lane County shines for its commitment to helping Eugene’s most vulnerable populations.

Second-place winner St. Vincent de Paul continues to evolve new programs to reduce waste and serve the community. This year it took on an important project revamping trailer parks to create better options for low-cost housing. SVDP’s solutions-forward model has diverted thousands of mattresses from landfills through its world-renowned repurposing projects.

This year EW shared a heartwarming story with Greenhill Humane Society when Tank, the “unadoptable” pitbull featured in our July 27 Pets issue, found a home. Greenhill was third in Best Local Nonprofit and winner of Best Animal Nonprofit this year. — Carl Segerstrom

 

Best Teacher/Professor

1. Stella Strother-Blood Agnes Stewart Middle School

2. (Tie) Dan Tichenor University of Oregon

2. (Tie) Taunya DeBoer Willamette Leadership Academy

3. Leah Dunbar Churchill High School

This was the first year that we asked you to name Eugene’s best teacher or professor, and we got an overwhelming number of votes. It’s important to recognize the teachers who inspire us — who stand out among the masses and make a lasting impact in our lives. This year’s best of them all? Stella Strother-Blood from Agnes Stewart Middle School. 

“The kids at Agnes Stewart are amazing, the administration is wonderful,” Strother-Blood says. “I can’t believe they recognized me!”

This is only Strother-Blood’s second year as a full-time teacher — she was a student teacher at the school for a year before — but her passion for the job is clear. “I’ve always been really interested in serving others, and I was brought up to care about other people and recognize that, in life, it’s not all about me,” she says. “Teaching is just a really efficient and effective way to interact with others and to leave a good impression with students.”

From the Eugene/Springfield area herself, Strother-Blood left town to get her undergraduate degree at Western Oregon University and came back to get her master’s in teaching at the University of Oregon. She knew she wanted to teach language arts and social studies to inspire kids to learn about the world, even if they haven’t had opportunities to travel.

As for teaching sixth grade, Strother-Blood loves everything from helping kids open their lockers for the first time to seeing them grow throughout the year. “It’s just so unique,” Strother-Blood says. “Kids are excited to be out of elementary school and move into a new territory. It’s fun to be a part of that because it’s such a special time.” 

Strother-Blood says she has never sought to be someone’s favorite teacher, but she has sought to be a supportive, positive influence. “If I can leave that impression, then I’ll have succeeded.”

As for the future, “I want to be here, in the Eugene/Springfield area, teaching sixth grade language arts and social studies at Agnes Stewart Middle School,” Strother-Blood says. “I feel like it’s so rare to find exactly what you want to do forever, but I have, and I’m honored.”  — Morgan Theophil

photo: Trask Bedortha

 

Best Thing About Eugene

1. People

2. Diversity

3. Food

Let me preface this by saying I am not mad, but even more so, I’m just straight-up confused. You know, when your parents used to say, “I’m not mad; I’m just disappointed”? That’s how I’m approaching this situation. As a half-black, half-Filipina person who has lived in Eugene my whole life, I just have to ask — what makes this town diverse? You, Best Of Eugene voters, don’t mean racially diverse, right? We, the people of Eugene, are not that disillusioned, are we? Or have we just come to accept that a town that is more than 85 percent white, according to the census, in some way counts as diverse? You don’t mean politically diverse, or diverse in thought, do you? Yes, we have activists and out-spoken individuals on both sides of the political spectrum, but so does every other town. How about economically? No, that doesn’t make much sense either, in comparison to other towns of our size and location. Style? I guess we do have diversity in what kind of socks we wear with our Birkenstocks. (Is it going to be straightforward wool today, or should I go with something patterned? Hmm. As long as it matches my Columbia raincoat, I guess!) Maybe it’s the weather. It sure does rain a lot here, but sometimes it’s sunny and sometimes we even get a little snow! Yeah, I’m going to give you all the benefit of the doubt; let’s just go with the weather.  — Meerah Powell

 

Best Park

1. Alton Baker Park 200 Day Island Rd. eugene-or.gov/327/Parks-and-Natural-Areas.
2. Hendricks Park Summit Ave. & Skyline Blvd.
3. Skinner Butte Park 248 Cheshire Ave.

Alton Baker, Eugene’s biggest park, tops the list again this year. The park hugs the north bank of the Willamette River and has just about every park activity you can imagine, from disc golf to dog parks and boating to BMXing. You can even find an (albeit unsanctioned) open-air market under the gazebos, if you’re into that kind of stuff. — Carl Segerstrom

Photo: Athena Delene

 

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