Five-term Eugene City Councilor Betty Taylor says she considered not running again for her Ward 2 seat because of her age. Her 90-year-old brain still functions just fine, but she worried that if she ran again, voters might favor a younger, less qualified candidate. Then she got over it. “People are more intelligent than that,” she says with a laugh.
Taylor has taken out filing forms but will not actually file for the May 17 primary election until she has a treasurer on board and a campaign plan. March 2 is the deadline to file, and “somebody else will probably be running,” she says, but she doesn’t know who at this point.
Attorney Marshall Wilde has voiced an interest in the council seat, but only if it were an open seat. “Marty says he will be on my team if I run,” she says. “He’s willing to wait.” Juan Carlos Valle, her well-funded opponent four years ago who forced a November run-off election, has decided not to run again.
Why is she not eager to retire after 20 years on the council? There’s more work to be done, she says, and “I want to continue speaking for the people who don’t have a voice in our community.”
Taylor’s priorities include protecting neighborhoods, keeping the urban growth boundary intact, conserving open space, helping low-income and homeless residents, civic liberties, alternative transportation and supporting mental health programs.
“It’s important to have somebody on the council who’s independent and not afraid of offending the powerful and well-to-do,” she says.
Taylor is a retired high school and university teacher with a doctorate in English from UO. She has often been in the minority on the council in objecting to tax breaks for wealthy developers and other revenue and spending decisions that exacerbate the gap between rich and poor. She has, however, gone on record in support of the Eugene Public Library levy that will be on the Nov. 2 ballot, but reluctantly “under these circumstances.”
Taylor says she agrees with former councilor Bonny Bettman McCornack that “we need to find other sources of revenue for essential services,” and the library should be supported by the General Fund, not special levies.
Where should those new revenues come from? Taylor favors adding to or altering the hotel room tax to support more than just tourism. “People from all over come to Eugene and use our facilities and should help pay for our essential services,” she says. “Our Budget Committee should investigate all sources of income that are fair, equitable and dependable.”
Taylor also says she wishes more retired people would run for public office since they have experience, wisdom and are available to deal with the growing complexities of city government. “Younger people are often involved in their careers and raising their families and don’t have the time,” she says.