Daniel P. Isaacson, 42

Application information

70 Hatton Avenue #201
River Road Community Organization
Lived in Ward 7 for 2.75 years
Lived in Eugene for 8.75 years
Small Business Owner

Occupational background:

Chair, Eugene Planning Commissioner (2022-Present)
Vice-chair, Eugene Planning Commissioner (2020-Present)

President, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)– Lane County (2021-Present)
Board Member, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)– Lane County (2020-2021)
Co-Chair, Suicide Prevention Coalition of Lane County (2018-Present)
Board Member, Reality Kitchen (2020-Present)
Board Member, River Road Community Organization (2021- Present)

One Gro Inc., Partner, 2017-Present
CAVU, Owner, 2014-2018
Breakthru Beverage, Key Account Manager, 2012-2017
Adjunct Professor, University of Arizona, Global Campus, 2009-2012

Educational background:
B.S. University of Oregon
M.P.A. Univeristy of Arizona. Honors: summa cum laude (4.0 GPA)

Prior governmental experience: Chair, Eugene Planning Commission

1. How would you describe Ward 7 in terms of physical, social and demographic characteristics? While physically, Ward 7 runs a continual line essentially up River Road, from Santa Clara to the Whiteaker neighborhood, it is arguably one of the most diverse wards in Eugene. The residents of Santa Clara, for example, have very different needs, concerns and expectations of their representative to the city council than, say, the Whiteaker neighborhood. But just as different states have individual priorities, they collectively have national interests as well.
Let’s use home efficiency as an example of this. Of the 16,000 homes in Ward 7, 71% or about 11,000, were built before 1980, meaning they are likely very inefficient. This is costly to the occupant both in higher monthly energy bills as well as their health, expensive to the owner to repair, and its rehabilitation is the key to meeting Eugene’s Cap 2.0 decarbonization plan.
How exactly each neighborhood goes about solving this will differ, but their collective interest is the same. Given that 81% of the Whiteaker neighborhood are renters, emphasis needs to be given on promoting the Rental Rehabilitation Loan Program to the tenants and their landlords. Once we get to Santa Clara, where the renter population is only 25%, we can shift to the new Weatherization Assistance Program, which was a part of President Biden’s 2021 infrastructure bill.
Trainsong’s residents earn less than half that of Santa Clara, but both want smooth roads, ADA accessible crosswalks, and clean parks for their kids to play in. River Road will soon debut its new $135 million-dollar high school, one my 5 year old son will attend, but has concerns over shifts in traffic-flow changes and parking.
Ward 7 will experience a signifigant portion of the estimated 18,000 new residents and 9,000 units of new housing that will be built in the next ten years, as outlined by the city’s 20-year growth projections. It will stress-test nearly every aspect and criteria the neighborhoods use to track its livability, and its imperative that Ward 7 has a councilor that understands this.
One could take from this a certain amount of anxiety over what is coming, and citizens here definitely express this when asked, but Ward 7 has a history of leaning in on city-wide issues. We house 3 of the 5 Eugene Safe Sleep sites and the new River Avenue Navigation Center. The 2022 Road Bond currently before voters lists almost a fifth of all the project dollars for maintaining its roads due to wear and 46% more than the average allotment of any other ward in the city.
We cannot function with merely a cursory investment by its representative to council or one who is not prepared to build on their experience and community involvement on day one to represent all neighbors from all neighborhoods. It requires someone who will put in the time to understand the issues, concerns and culture each neighborhood has. If we have learned anything from the events of late, it is that Ward 7 residents are demanding someone who will communicate to each neighborhood how theirs fits with the whole.
2. What are your unique qualification for representing Ward 7? I have a deep understanding of the culture that serves as the foundation for each neighborhood in Ward 7. I have been doing some of the same outreach, work and investment of both time and constituent relations demanded by a city councilor for more than two years. Let’s use an example.
When a fatal car accident occurred on River Road across from my home in 2021, I worked with RRCO and Eugene Public Works and Transportation to push for and get emergency status approved by ODOT to expedite the construction of an enhanced lit crosswalk, which will begin construction late this fall and finish in early winter. This crosswalk will serve over 450 residents in the immediate area.
I have spent time in every neighborhood, spoken to residents at their door, helped beautify our parks, donated to projects, employed our citizens, housed those without homes, and in the case of a small-business owner whose mobile-guided backpacking business’s recreational vehicle was destroyed in a fire, organized the community to replace not just the RV with a new one, but to resupply him with the equipment he needed to be able to continue operations.
As a Eugene Planning Commissioner, when we received notes from constituents, it was made aware to me that it was customary to simply read them but not respond. I took a different approach, taking the time to search for their email or phone number and write or call all those that I could because I believe that folks who take the time to write to me on an issue they are passionate about deserve a note back showing that I have heard them. The time speaking with each citizen was not a chance for me to explain my rationale for whatever we were working on but rather their chance to tell me theirs, and it helped me understand to a greater depth the context behind many topics we have taken up.
I believe in coalition building and organizing around a shared vision, elements needed in an effective city councilor. When the pandemic began, we knew at the Suicide Prevention Coalition and NAMI that there were going to be folks in danger of taking their own life. We came together and set in motion an effort to train over 900 community members on the warning signs. We trained baristas and bartenders, cab drivers and construction foreman, to name a few, across Lane County. We even trained bank tellers to look for warning signs with their customers.
I am not an activist, but rather I am advocate for issues I care about. There is a difference. I feel that activists have a hard time transitioning to advocate for other issues if they compete with the issue that brought them to public service in the first place. A city councilor has to balance the needs of everyone’s issues and remember to serve even those whose issues would not have been your focus necessarily as a private citizen. And that starts with doing the homework, committing to the task and professionally representing your office.
3. What are the three most important issues facing the residents of Ward 7?
I have been active in every community I have lived in, but when I decided to seek this appointment, I started with this very question. But rather than ask it of myself, I wanted to know what the people in my ward felt. Ultimately, it is their answer that drives this conversation not mine, and with all the people, groups and interests outside Ward 7 who have offered their perspective, I strongly feel it’s Ward 7 residents’ voice that is in most need of being heard.
To find the answer, I began walking our neighborhoods. I have knocked on 150 homes in each of my ward’s four neighborhoods, and what I found was a public who has not lost faith in either Eugene nor its future, but that they simply want someone to hear their concerns, forge a solution and lead on it. But at the same time, tend to the basics that come from city services. The short answer here speaks to the first question you asked: what the citizens of Ward 7 think the most important issues are depends greatly on where they live.
I saw and heard about yellow street lights instead of brighter white LEDs in the Whiteaker, potholes and Safe Sleep Sites in Trainsong, beautification and landscaping needed in Emerald Park off River Road, glass that cuts bike commuter’s tires on Irving Road, and missing stop and speed signs in Santa Clara. People expressed concerns about growth and its stress on our infrastructure and angst over annexation.
Of course, issues of homelessness, crime and transportation were top-of-mind in most of the conversations I had. And I believe they are the overall three issues that will define our attention on council, but there was a common theme residents sought when I spoke with them. Folks are asking for someone who will balance the heavy-lift, city-wide issues we will debate, with the everyday needs they expect from the city they live in and pay taxes toward.
By regularly connecting to my ward, being accessible, and leaning in on both the large policy agendas as well as the granular, low-hanging fruit, we arrive at a synergy Ward 7 is looking for. It just proves we have more doors left to open, doors we must open wider, and doors we must keep from closing again.
4. What do you see as the most pressing need for the Eugene community and what would be your top priority a City Councilor?|
he central issue of our generation, and one facing our city, is our interdependence. It touches almost every issue the council wrestles with. It is at the heart of each side’s core arguments. How does one people’s broken pieces fit with another’s broken pieces so that something whole emerges? How do we convince those who that feel we have reached the milestone that it is in their best interest to leave the door open for those still left striving toward it?
It is seen when we discuss the city’s growth, our unhoused community, crime, transportation and infrastructure design, and even the road levy being placed before the voters this November. We are all a product of this community, its successes and failures alike; we are tied to its fate.
No issue that is interwoven throughout the fabric of our communities within this idea is more in need of focus than our mental healthcare. For too long we have deprioritized or overlooked its importance. We have not invested in the systems and language that could insulate us from the worst consequences we see every day. The mentally ill too often are subsumed into the criminal class. But we can change that.
By prioritizing not simply the content of what goes in our children’s brains but the health of that brain at school, by significantly investing in our wrap around services and ensuring their staff is paid a prevailing wage, by improving our greenspace, our parks and our community events, and by doing our best to see everyone and their voice, we alter the course we have been on and make a meaningful and powerful difference in our communities.
5. Describe your experience working with a diversity of perspective and opinion.
My work, professionally, academically, and through volunteering, has regularly required not simply working with a diversity of perspective and opinions, but requiring it to function properly.
I taught both entry-level collegiate writing classes to new undergraduate students as well as graduate-level classes in government. The caliber and qualifications of one could not have been more different than the other. Often the course material required covering topics that were designed to illicit strong views from our student body that came from every corner of the nation. It mattered little what my opinion was on the content, and to bring out the best from my students meant understanding their position and challenging their view in a way that was respectful and helped them see something being missed.
When I managed a sales team in Chicago, representing $60 million in annual sales across some of the biggest brands in our industry, we held common goals spread across over a dozen regions and a hundred separate neighborhoods. My management staff had to tailor their strategies to the uniqueness of their territory and its culture and demographics and then be able to both defend and advocate for the resources needed to deliver on their promise to clients who expected very specific results. My job was understanding how each fit with the next; how to get the most from talented people, each of whom brought their own valid ideas to the discussion.
Leading the National Alliance on Mental Health, NAMI, and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Lane County is one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. It brings balance to my often-stressful professional life and gives an outlet for positive, community-driven work. In a field as open as mental health and suicide prevention, and with both the scarcity of resources our community has and a fierce debate where those resources should be spent, the opinions are as diverse as the community we serve. There is often not a single way or answer to any question or problem. You can’t possibly do that kind of work unless you do it with other people. Unless they guide you.
Serving as a planning commissioner, we received deeply passionate views on our work. There was no instruction during the on-boarding process for this, leaving each commissioner to explore their own way of processing those opinions. My choice was to utilize the aforementioned experiences. With constituents, I made sure I reached out to them in email or phone to hear their perspectives and offer my thinking. With fellow commissioners, I made sure to respect the seniority of work already done on many areas and listen more than I spoke.
In the end, none of us are called on to agree with everyone else 100% of the time. Maybe not even half the time. What we are called upon to do is to see that what we have in common is more important than our differences. Whether we like it or not, our futures are bound up together.
6. How would you work to effectively convey your viewpoint and make decisions as a City Councilor? Well, the key word here is ‘work’ isn’t it? Being an effective city councilor is more than forming an opinion on issues. It is work to schedule time with your neighborhood associations, stakeholders, resident groups, staff, and interested parties and your fellow councilors. It is work to do the act of learning the material behind an issue so we can be a better council, and I, a better councilor. This is a position that requires its members to be active participants in service to their city. Many other cities have staff to assist its councilors or compensate them so as to free their competing economical needs; Eugene does not have that luxury and thus we are left to make do with our realities.
As a small business owner that employs 35 residents in the Whiteaker Neighborhood, I am blessed with the ability to have a flexible schedule to devote the time required by this position.
I intend on holding weekly ‘office hours’ for my constituents in a rotating location, giving residents the ability to discuss current or upcoming issues and to allow me the opportunity to share my thoughts as well. This will also have the dual benefit of helping either solidify my position or help reshape it.
The process of arriving at a decision for me rests in data, conversation and debate. This position will be inundated with data, often with contradictory conclusions. Knowing who to reach out to with questions, what to ask because you’ve done the homework, how to challenge a competing theory and the confidence in yourself to defend your decision lays the important groundwork that builds trust and respect by everyone, especially your colleagues on council.
I am cognizant of the significant institutional memory lost as a result of Councilor Syrett’s departure, and frankly no one applying can instantly fill that. What I can do is what I will do, and that is work to earn my ward’s trust, learn from the elders of my fellow councilors, staff, and outside experts and interests, and remember that this race is a marathon, not a sprint, and to be patient.
7. Describe your experience in the formation or implementation of public policy and regulations. I got involved in mental health public policy because of the loss of a close friend in an officer involved shooting in 2018. The immediate aftermath of that incident proved to be very healthy and very unhealthy and subjected a lot of people, myself included, to a second, and needless, trauma.
What I quickly learned was that our system was designed specifically to create an environment where this was not simply possible, but probable. I met mothers who lost sons to suicide, fathers who lost children to addiction, children who were left to sort their lives out, alone in a world and a community uninformed on their need for care. I laughed with them. I cried with them. I realized this was what I wanted to do with my life.
I spent a year looking at solutions, and two years shepherding one through discussions, negotiations, and coalition building with the cities of Eugene, Springfield, Oakridge, Junction City, Cottage Grove, Florence and more. I held talks with firefighters and police captains, along with city and county administrators on how to fund it. I gave speeches to rotaries, neighborhood groups and City Club. And I pitched the story to news outlets, securing a front-page article in the Eugene Weekly (03/03/22) and a follow up story this week (11/3/22). The result was the first new permanent mental health program launched in Lane County in 23 years. It will begin this March.
As a Eugene Planning Commissioner, as you are aware, I serve the public by fulfilling both the legislative role, that listens to staff recommendations, industry opinions, citizen commentary, and a spirited debate amongst the other commissioners, and a quasi-judicial role that requires that I only look at evidence in the official record in determining a decision.
We have taken care to give a great deal of diligence to our work. The decisions we have made have been reviewed by both the city council and LUBA. Since I have been a commissioner, our recommendations have been affirmed by council 92% of the time and have never been reversed on appeal by LUBA.
Our work gives the city council depth on city planning, freeing the councilors to spread their time over many subjects, and once we bring a decision to them, affirm or alter our conclusions. Our role is about providing the initial scrutiny in our area of city public policy. Without the city’s commissions, the council would experience a crisis of bandwidth.


Reasons I would be a good choice as Ward 7 City Councilor
I have been deeply involved Ward 7 issues and representing its values as a board member of Reality Kitchen on River Road, as a board member of the River Road Community Organization, as a small business owner that employs 35 in the Whiteaker Neighborhood and as a parent to a 5 year old at Howard Elementary. Considering so many critical issues needing immediate advocacy directly impacting the residents of Ward 7, we need someone who does not need time to learn on the job, but can step in on day one.