Article | | By Camilla Mortensen
“I’ve gotten better and better in the role of watchdog,” says Commissioner Pete Sorenson of his decision to run again for his long-time South Eugene seat on Lane County’s Board of Commissioners in the May 2016 primary.
The election might be more than a year away, but Sorenson has already begun lining up endorsements, from local politicians — Mayor Kitty Piercy — to legislators in Salem — Rep. Phil Barnhart.
In recent years, Sorenson as a liberal and progressive has found himself in the minority, but he says that as a “seasoned watchdog” he still has a role to play. “The issues don’t go away because of gerrymandering or campaign spending,” he says.
One issue that arose around the previous election was allegations that conservative Commissioner Jay Bozievich had pushed a redistricting plan that gerrymandered commission districts — altered the district boundaries to change their makeup and thus affect who is elected to represent those areas.
As a watchdog, Sorenson points to his criticisms of the way the conservative majority hired the county’s former, controversial administrator Liane (Richardson) Inkster without a search, in comparison to the open process that resulted in the hire of current Administrator Steve Mokrohisky, calling Mokrohisky a “consummate professional.”
In contrast, Inkster was fired after an investigation into unauthorized changes she made to her take-home pay.
Sorenson says, “I like my job,” and that he and Peter DeFazio are the only people being paid a “living wage” to help constituents in south Eugene as a full-time job. In addition to his roles in county governance and leadership, Sorenson says his constituent services have included working to increase pedestrian safety at crosswalks, dealing with garbage on 30th Avenue and helping a couple with their overseas adoption.
Looking ahead to the May 2015 election, Sorenson says if it passes, the proposed county vehicle tax would pay for road maintenance, not new construction, thanks to his watchdog role.
Sorenson will participate in two panels at the March 5-8 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, on legal ethics and on working with elected officials. More info at PIELC.org.
Plenty of upcoming events and you’ll be invited. Stay tuned. Feel free to email me on email@example.com
The election is on November 6th 2012.
In the month of October, everyone will get mailed a voter’s pamphlet. Here is your chance to get a sneak peak at Pete’s statement.
County Commissioner, South Eugene, Position 3
Occupation: Lane County Commissioner
Occupational Background: Attorney in private practice; Small Business Owner; Adjunct Law Professor, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Jim Weaver (D-Oregon); Special Assistant to the US Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, DC; volunteer prosecutor
Educational Background: JD, School of Law; MA and BA, University of Oregon; AA, Southwestern Oregon Community College; diploma, North Bend High School
Family and Community Service: Husband; Parent; Board Chair; Lane Community College; Senior Companion Program Member; Kidsports Soccer; YMCA Basketball Coach; Elected Delegate, Democratic National Convention
Pete Sorenson-Principle above Politics
Funding public education, testifying in Congress for County forest payments for schools
Street repair, bike lanes, supporting mass transit
Incentives for small and sustainable businesses
Taxation based on ability to pay
Sorenson’s values are our values:
Protecting forests, land, air and water
Promoting access to health care by expanding Lane County’s health clinics
Protecting senior, mental health and public safety services
Promoting services for veterans, winning the “Going to Bat for Veterans” award
Sorenson’s proven Courage and Independence
Fought racial profiling, winning “Hometown Human Rights Hero” award
Fought for same sex health benefits for public employees
Fought for funding Central Latino Americano
Fought for equal pay for equal work, access to reproductive health care
Dear Lane County Neighbor:
With your help, support and encouragement we won an overwhelming primary victory against entrenched special interests. I am so proud of you for standing up to these forces and their powerful allies. I will continue to promote policies of economic, environmental, and social justice. As always, I pledge to place the public’s interest above special interests, putting principle above politics!
(This information furnished by Pete Sorenson)
“Thanks so much for the outpouring of support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. We won the election by a huge margin. The thugs really came out to hurt me over the past 17 months and I’m glad the great people of South Eugene voted so overwhelmingly for me. I’m honored and humbled by the support. Thanks to each and every one of you! Thanks for supporting family wage jobs, a clean environment, public services to help people, fairness and justice. Thanks.” – Pete
Pete won the primary election however he still needs to win the general election.
The ballots are due for the general election at 8:00 pm on November 6, 2012. This is a non-partisan mail-in election, and everyone in South Eugene can vote. Ballots go out in October 2012.
From the Oregon Daily Emerald
“I met Pete Sorenson in the late 1980s. He was a practicing environmental attorney in a third-floor walk-up office bustling with law students. People were becoming disgusted with the grass-seed agricultural practice of burningharvested fields. Sorenson wrote a “field-burning ban” ballot initiative for us, which did not succeed in gathering enough signatures, but the movement proceeded to get a phase-down bill passed in the state legislature. Sorenson then worked with me and another plaintiff to begin the process of suing the first Bush Administration EPA for not promulgating the Clean Air Act regulation for particulate matter (PM10). The EPA wrote the regulation.
Then in the early 1990s, Sorenson gave me emergency free legal advice over the phone. Seneca timber company workers showed up with heavy equipment claiming they had access through our property to their recently purchased adjacent property. They threatened me with “idle equipment” and “labor time lost” costs, which could be thousands of dollars. Sorenson’s excellent advice absolved me of liability from their threats. My county records search revealed that Seneca and all timber companies had been prohibited from using our road access.
My confidence and admiration for Sorenson continued to grow after another Clean Air Act action. Sorenson may not remember, but I then encouraged him to run for public office. He has continued to stand for scientifically sound environmental principles and not deceive citizens as to what they are.
I do not know Andy Stahl as well. I did vote for him when he ran for Crow/Applegate/Lorane school board. Since this is the only elected office he has held, and he lost his bid for re-election, one wonders if this is a rousing endorsement.
My question for Stahl is this: if you aspired to the Board of Commissioners as an environmentalist and progressive democrat, why didn’t you run against Faye Stewart when you lived in our district? Why run against a fellow progressive environmentalist who has a long and outstanding record?”
“Sorenson has a good, long track record on the issues his south Eugene constituents care about — clean water, clean energy, local business, local (and union) jobs, human rights, saving schools, to name a few. His efforts to curb out-of-control logging, mining and other destructive practices have made him some enemies, but that doesn’t stop Sorenson from voting on the side of the little guy.”
NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon has given a green light to Pete Sorenson for Lane county commissioner — an acknowledgement of Sorenson’s fully pro-choice record during his time in public service. Sorenson and Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy were the only officials in local government to receive an endorsement or green light from the organization.
“As an advocate for women’s health and equality for more than 20 years I am very pleased with this endorsement,” Sorenson said.
According to its website, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon’s mission is to “develop and sustain a constituency which effectively uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.”
The Pete Sorenson Campaign is pleased to announce that after intense review, the Blackberry Pie Society has decided to endorse Pete’s re-election campaign. The Blackberry Pie Society is dedicated to promoting good politics and great people in South Lane County and beyond, and having fun while doing it. Blackberry Pie society is a member of the Rural Organizing Project and is helping to advance democracy in Oregon.
From the Register-Guard
“Sorenson is needed as never before on the Lane County Board of Commissioners to withstand the firestorm flaming on the right that will lead to the degradation of our land, water and air in Lane County. Together with another strong voice on the board, Rob Handy, they will hold firm against runaway power grabs like the ones blistering from the right that maligned them in recent months, hoping to drive them from office.
I urge citizens in their districts to keep these two fine people on the board as a bulwark against the interests that will undermine the quality of life in our country.”
JIM WEAVER, MEMBER
U.S. House of Representatives
Oregon 4th District, 1975-87
“Newspaper characterizations of Andy Stahl don’t match his actions or affiliations. The R-Gcharacterizes Stahl as a “progressive” (3/9), a “liberal” (3/25), and says it “might be difficult to distinguish Stahl from Sorenson.” The R-G mentions Stahl’s reputation as an environmentalist (1/11). Well, that was history. Andy is a very different person these days.
He once did yeoman work with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund during the struggle to stop old-growth habitat destruction, and fought excessive logging in the Coast Range that caused an unusually high frequency of landslides. That was more than 20 years ago.
Today, to facilitate the industrial logging of 1.5 million acres of federal forest, Andy supports delivering 1.5 million acres of federal public forest to the timber industry disguised as county funding, eliminating all environmental laws on that 1.5 million acres.”
Read the rest at the Eugene Weekly
“Leave it to The Register-Guard to get it wrong in its endorsements for both Lane County commissioner races. All we need is a tea party/right-wing board of commissioners that will slash or refuse to fund even more county services.
Then we’ll be threatened with yet more privatized services, which means poor coverage, high costs and more money for the rich 1 percent at our expense — or giving even more tax credits and tax cuts to developers and corporations that don’t need them.”
Read the rest at The Register-Guard