Kieran Walsh says he’s running for the South Eugene District Lane County Commission position against popular current Commissioner Pete Sorenson “because I just care about my community.”
He says he believes the timber-money funded open meetings civil lawsuit against Sorenson means the commissioner has “lost credibility” and that is part of what inspired him to enter the race. Most recently a Washington County prosecutor found there was not enough evidence for criminal charges against Sorenson, as well as Rob Handy and former commissioner Bill Fleenor, in regard to the open meetings issue. This is the third investigation into Sorenson that has resulted in a finding of no wrongdoing. Sorenson has said his votes on strong progressive issues, including forest issues, have “infuriated really powerful interests.”
Walsh says another issue is the conservative/liberal split on the county board. He says he will be able to get along with other commissioners on the Lane County board because he is good at listening to others. Of Sorenson he says, “By his own admission, he can’t talk to the other commissioners.”
Also, he adds, “People running against each other is healthy, it promotes dialogue.”
Walsh, a property manager who has served as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteer and who is on the board of Sponsors Inc., says he is more of a “John Q. Public” who is also very good at procuring things for cheap. Criticizing county spending is one of the reasons he got into the race. “One of my friends said, ‘Look, don’t complain about it, do something,’” he says.
Walsh is also a longtime soccer coach who has taken youth teams overseas to “expose kids to other cultures.”
Walsh says specifically to save money, all the cities and towns in Lane County should make all their purchases from a central purchasing office to keep costs down. “If I can do it,” he says, “one single guy out of my house,” then government agencies should be able to do it too. Getting needed items for a low cost is something he has done as a volunteer for CASA and Sponsors, he says.
He also says he’d like to see the county make more use of volunteers. “We can’t hire, so we need volunteers.”
Walsh says county funding issues could be improved by moving away from a timber-based economy, including Congressman Peter DeFazio’s possible forest trust plan, and aiding small businesses “right here in our own community.” He cites towns like Flint and Detroit that were dependent on one industry and when that industry was failing, the town failed too. “We need to go after Washington, they owe us the money,” he says, adding, “This impacts the security of the county.”