The two Lane County commissioner races heading for the May primary have narrowed their fields. Conservative City Councilor Mike Clark dropped out of the North Eugene race against current Commissioner Rob Handy Feb. 28, and on March 1 political newcomer Kieran Walsh gave way in the contest for the South Eugene seat held by Pete Sorenson.
If a commissioner candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes in the May 12 primary then that candidate goes on the November ballot unopposed. In some cases candidates will pull out of a race in hopes of helping another candidate win that majority. Walsh said at a press conference last week that he pulled out to offer a “united front” against Sorenson. He went on to endorse Andy Stahl.
Sorenson, a popular longtime commissioner, faces Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, in the race for South Eugene. Stahl has been lining up political endorsements from Oregon’s Legislature, including state Sen. Floyd Prozanski and state Rep. Val Hoyle.
Sorenson’s endorsements reflect his long history of pro-environment and pro-union votes. He has been endorsed by the local Sierra Club chapter, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV) and Oregon Wild Conservation Leaders Fund PAC. On the union side, Sorenson has gotten the nod from the Eugene firefighters union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 and the Lane County employee union — AFSCME Local 2831. City Councilors Betty Taylor, Alan Zelenka and George Brown have all endorsed Sorenson, as has Mayor Kitty Piercy.
In the North Eugene race, Clark’s withdrawal leaves interpreter/translator and frequent political candidate Nadia Sindi and City Councilor Pat Farr to take on Handy. After pulling out, Clark threw his endorsement to Farr, who also lists conservative former mayor Jim Torrey and former county commissioner Bobby Green as endorsers in the nonpartisan race. Handy beat Green for the north Eugene seat in 2008. Handy, who like Sorenson has a history of green and pro-worker votes, has not yet begun to list endorsements on his campaign website.
At the city level, Mayor Piercy has two challengers, Kevin Prociw and John Walrod. Councilor Betty Taylor is facing Jim Ray and Juan Carlos Valle. And the open seat for EWEB Wards 1 & 8 has two candidates, Will Shaver and Steve Mital.