Springfield Mayoral Candidates Make Their Pitches To Voters
In the May Primary, Springfield residents can choose between two candidates for mayor. Incumbent Christine Lundberg has held the position since 2010. Her challenger is Robert Drake.
Lundberg served as a city council member prior to mayor. She thinks her experience working in government and involvement in current projects best qualifies her for the job. One of those projects is improving the safety of Springfield’s streets.
Lundberg: “I signed on to the mayor’s challenge for Safe Streets. And one of our big projects is Main Street, so we’re looking at how can we improve it so that becomes a much more safe corridor for everyone.”
Lundberg is also working on a designation from Governor Kate Brown to bring awareness to poor conditions in mobile home parks.
Robert Drake is a home care provider and mental health advocate. He feels he brings a younger, more progressive option for voters.
Drake: “Almost half of the population, people don’t really know this, but the demographics, there is a lot of poverty, but there is also about 50% of the population is under the age of 35 and they are almost completely unrepresented in the city’s politics.”
Both candidates have different takes on developing Glenwood, the largely industrial and residential area linking Eugene and Springfield. The corridor features large amounts of potential riverfront property, and is close to the University of Oregon. Drake says there are residents resistant to being annexed by Springfield's proposed zoning changes.
Drake: “You have this patchwork of land that they either have jurisdiction over, or don’t. And while they have the policing responsibilities, they don’t have the actual zoning responsibilities. One of the things that I would try to do is try to consolidate that, settle up with the low income housing folks so that there is a diversity of residential options.”
There are current plans to improve Franklin Boulevard in Glenwood. Lundberg says over the summer construction will begin on separated pedestrian and bike lanes and the addition of roundabouts.
Lundberg: "So, instead of kind an industrial look that it has been, it looks a little neglected, over time it's going to take on a whole new look by the end of the summer."
Both Lundberg and Drake have families and strong views on education in Springfield. Lundberg highlights her work promoting Career Technical Education in Springfield's School District.
Lundberg: "We're creating a new talented workforce that is in demand. And can pay family wage jobs, so when our kids get out of school, they know where they are going to go, they can earn a good living, and they can contribute back to the communities."
Drake isn't as optimistic about the current state of Springfield's schools.
Drake: "To me, it's heartbreaking, because I look, and I drop my daughter off at school and I see people hugging their kids and spending an enormous amount of time trying to make sure their kids have a fair opportunity and the teachers are truly maxed out."
In a recent cartoon published by the Eugene Weekly, Author Ben Ricker portrays a dull, seedy scene in downtown Springfield. Many residents, including Mayor Lundberg, complained about the negative stereotypes. Drake says despite major improvements, some outsiders do have a negative view of downtown Springfield.
Drake: "A lot of the capitol that's coming to fund places like Planktown that are successful right and are driving the downtown is people from Eugene who have decided to use the business space.
Lundberg agrees there is still an outside perception Springfield may "not be the nicest place to hang out." But she says Ricker's cartoon made fun of people who were just trying to make a living.
Lundberg: "It's only funny when everybody is laughing. But when you pick on somebody and they don't see it as funny, that to me is bullying. And maybe that wasn't the intent, but if I was somebody coming from another city, and I saw that, I would have an impression of Springfield that was very, very negative."
Incumbent Christine Lundberg is running again for Springfield Mayor. She is being challenged by Robert Drake. Springfield’s mayor and city council members are all volunteer positions. Oregon's primary is May 17th.
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