Deciding to endorse and strongly support Pete Sorenson (commissioner for South Eugene including Whiteaker and the Jefferson/Westside neighborhoods) is an easy task. He’s the most qualified and most deserving candidate by far. Sorenson’s deep public service resume, proven independence, progressive record and courage in the face of ugly bullying from special interests and Republican-owned media, make him unique in the commissioner race.
As a 17-year veteran of service on the Lane County Budget Committee (appointed by three different commissioners, two Democrats and one Republican) and as its immediate past chair, I know a thing or two about county government.
Sorenson is endorsed by virtually every conservation and labor organization, Democratic Party of Lane County, Independent Party of Oregon, Mayor Kitty Piercy, LCC Education Association’s PAC, former crusading local congressman Jim Weaver, and former South Eugene commissioner Jerry Rust (1977-97); he has tremendous grassroots support and affection for his independence in standing up for South Eugene’s priorities: education, conservation, human rights, sane land use policy, the UO, animal care and youth services.
Space doesn’t allow for reciting the full gamut of his achievements — saving the Lane County Fairgrounds, defending thousands of local forest acres against attempted zoning changes to permit sprawl, saving the iconic Florence dunes, fighting for same-sex county worker health care protection and expanded county clinics for low-income citizens, fairness and dignity for county workers, etc. Sorenson has received awards for helping create the Veterans Service Center and for human rights (“Hometown Hero Civil Rights Award” by the Eugene Human Rights Commission). He’s volunteered for Kidsports and YMCA coaching. His opponent has never once served on a county or city board or committee.
He’s stood up to the special-interest controlled right-leaning Republican board majority (Bozievich, Stewart and Leiken) and their seeming endorsement of a virtual giveaway of millions of gallons of precious McKenzie River water, as well as that same board majority’s outrageous tolerance of the West Virginia style mountain-top removal of iconic Parvin Butte. Perhaps that’s why a local deep-pocketed land speculator just pumped in $12,000 to the campaign of his libertarian-leaning opponent Andy Stahl. After all, Stahl is a close ally and donation recipient of Cato Institute employee and arch-conservative Randal O’Toole who advocates for privatizing federal forests and parks! Stahl proclaims himself the “architect” of an alarming trust scheme to semi-privatize and clear-cut some 1.5 million acres of federal forest, leaving an uncertain amount of protected old-growth. He proposes an elimination of locally accountable individual commissioner districts and ridicules the critics of the Republican board’s recent shameless gerrymandering as “crybabies.” Not very “progressive” sounding!
Sorenson’s record of service is unmatched: chief legislative assistant to congressman Jim Weaver, pivotal player in adding French Pete to the Three Sisters Wilderness, special assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Oregon state senator and assistant Democratic leader, chair of the LCC Board, three times chair of the Lane Board of County Commissioners.
As a crusading pro-conservation lawyer, featured in a New York Times article, Sorenson won landmark federal litigation protecting drinking water against lead contamination. He won a major lawsuit protecting citizens and small business against industrial biocide poisoning near railroad tracks. He is a nationally recognized expert in the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species acts, and has lectured across America: Stanford, NYU, Columbia, UCLA, Tulane and dozens others. He was a delegate to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm and the only Lane County commissioner ever invited to a bill-signing in the Oval Office (for Clinton’s signing the Sorenson-supported Secure Rural Schools funding act).
We can’t afford to lose this proven champion for what makes Eugene and Lane County so special: our care for one another’s dignity and security and for the God-given grandeur which surrounds us. Pete has stood up for us. Now it’s our turn to repudiate the politics of personal destruction; It’s time to re-elect this decent and compassionate neighbor and leader!