Big Bucks for Mayor
Pro-sprawl interests invest heavily in Torrey
BY ALAN PITTMAN
Jim Torrey has raked in record-breaking donations from developer, land speculator, sand and gravel, construction, timber and other special interests who stand to make huge profits from the urban sprawl and freeways he envisions as mayor.
Torrey reported $160,694 in campaign contributions by April 21 (see list at right). Nearly three-fourths of Torrey’s cash came from 41 contributors who gave $1,000 or more.
For Torrey’s opponent, incumbent Mayor Kitty Piercy, nearly the opposite was true. Three-fourths of Piercy’s money came from contributors who gave less than $1,000. Only 13 donors — mostly frequent environmental contributors — gave more than $1,000. Piercy reported a total of $59,215 in campaign money — making it likely Torrey will outspend her 3-1 in the mayor’s race.
Torrey claimed he will “absolutely not” be beholden to his big developer donors if he’s elected. In his campaign, Torrey has criticized Piercy for not quickly moving to expand the local urban growth boundary that holds in sprawl. Torrey also has criticized Piercy for blocking the $150 million West Eugene Parkway through wetlands.
Torrey’s donors could make big profits from their campaign investments if he wins. New freeways involve contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars of construction, sand and gravel, according to state documents. Forest or gravel land brought into the growth boundary for subdivisions or approved for mining can increase in value by a factor of 10 to 40 times, according to city appraisals.
Torrey, a former mayor and billboard advertising salesman, criticized Piercy for favoring the creation of a park in the Amazon headwaters that some of her donors support. But Piercy, a former teacher and Democratic state legislator, said, “My supporters are not big developers, construction companies or timber people.” She said her contributions average $135.
Some of Torrey’s biggest contributors have also given big contributions to George Bush. Babb (sand, gravel, land and construction) gave $2,000 to Bush and $10,000 to Torrey. Construction equipment magnate Randy Papé gave $1,000 to Bush and $5,000 to Torrey. Monaco RV CEO Kay Toolson gave $2,000 to Bush and $5,000 to Torrey. Western Beverage Co. executive Charles Huey gave $2,000 to Bush and $1,000 to Torrey. These and many other big Torrey donors have also given thousands of dollars to other Republicans such as Sen. Gordon Smith. Many Piercy donors have given to Democratic candidates.
Backed by $614,000 in big donations from timber, polluter, developer and corporate interests and the Republican party, Torrey ran as a Republican for the state Senate in 2006. He outspent Democrat Vicki Walker by a wide margin but said he supported Bush and the Iraq War in a debate and lost. Before this campaign, Torrey announced he was now officially an “independent,” but he refused to say whether he’ll vote for Republican John McCain for President.
Top Campaign Contributors*
Wildish—land speculation, sand, gravel, construction $11,000
Babb/Delta—land speculation, sand, gravel, construction $10,000
Hamilton Construction of Springfield $8,000
Korth—developer and Oakway shopping mall owner $6,500
Murphy plywood $6,000
Zip-O-Logs—old growth logging $5,000
Donald Tykeson—real estate speculator $5,000
Randy Papé—construction machinery, parkway advocate $5,000
Monaco RV CEO Kay Toolson $5,000
Ed King—land speculator and winery owner $5,000
Egge—land speculation, sand, gravel, construction $5,000
Chambers—land speculation, media, construction $4,000
Giustina—developer, land, timber, real estate speculation $4,000
Industrial Finishes, Eugene company $3,000
Gonyea—developer, land, timber, real estate speculation $3,000
Hult—timber, land speculation $2,500
PeaceHealth medical group director Tod Woodard $2,000
JW Ward Insurance $2,000
Industrial Source—welding, industrial supply $2,000
Donna Woolley—real estate and land speculator $2,000
Excalibur Cutlery $1,500
Tyree Oil $1,000
Title company owner Thomas McMahon $1,000
Timber publication owner Jon Anderson $1,000
Seneca Jones Timber and land company $1,000
Robert Sherman, trucking company owner $1,000
Real estate developer Prichard, Evans and Elder $1,000
Real estate developer Wally Graff $1,000
PlyVeneer Products of Springfield $1,000
Plumbing contractor Sandra Gerber $1,000
Norman Anderson $1,000
Molecular Probes President August Sick $1,000
Metal Products Company of Springfield $1,000
Mechanical Contractors Harvey & Price $1,000
Electrical contractor Fred Wittkop $1,000
McKay real estate speculators $1,000
Developer Andy Storment $1,000
Christian Kongsore-grain mill owner $1,000
Charles Huey western beverage $1,000
Sheila Schwarz $1,000
Rohn Roberts—attorney and real estate speculator $1,000
Mountain Rose organic herbs of Pleasant Hill $5,000
Art Johnson—attorney, part-owner of Eugene Weekly $2,500
David & Duane Funk—advertising and non-profit directors $2,000
Patricia Noyes of Eugene $1,000
Stephen Adey, 4J teacher $1,000
Paul Holvey—Democratic State Rep. $1,000
Katherine and Michael Caughlin of Eugene $1,000
John and Beverly McLauchlan of Eugene $1,000
Raquel Hecht & Lars Skaines—attorney and professor $1,000
John Allcott & Elizabeth Hunt—physician and psychologist $1,000
Mel Bankoff—Emerald Valley organic foods founder $1,000
Katherine Wiper of Eugene $1,000
Deborah Noble, CEO West Wind Forest Products $1,000
*Contributors of $1,000 or more according to state filings as of April 21. Donations from identifiable subsidiaries and family members were compiled. Descriptive information from business filings and published reports.