Janet E. Ayres, 69


85 N. Madison Street
Whiteaker Community Organization
Lived in Ward 7 for 34 years
Lived in Eugene for 34 years

* Educator / Semi-retired
* I own and manage residential rental properties
* I serve as an active volunteer on the Eugene-Springfield Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Occupational background:
* Educator/Teacher (Kindergarten and 1st grade, San Jose, California; 4th and 5th grades, Fairfield, California)
* Union Steward (Oregon School Employees Association, 4J School District Classified Employees, Transportation Department)
* Local business owner/operator – Real Estate Inspections & Repairs (Molemen, Eugene-Springfield)
* School Bus Driver (4J School District)
* Retail Sales (K-Mart and Valu-Mart, Eugene)

Educational background:
* North Eugene High School: Graduate (1971)
* Community College: Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (AAOT) Degree
* University of Oregon and Northwest Christian College (Now Bushnell University):
BA in Teacher Education (1997)
* University of California Santa Cruz: Certification, Cross Cultural Language Acquisition and Development (CCLAD) (1998)
* Oregon State University: Facilitator Training (1989)
* City of Eugene: Certification, Community Emergency Responder Training CERT (1994)
* Oregon Class C Contractor License (1988)

Prior governmental experience
* Whiteaker Community Council Board Member (2003-2005)
* Head Start: Noti (Teacher’s aide, 1969) and Whiteaker (Food service worker, 2003-2005)
* California Public School Teacher (see below)

Over the past 30 years, I’ve developed a constructive working relationship with several City of Eugene and State departments to address various local community issues. These include:
* Public Works Department
* Eugene Police Department
* Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)


1. How would you describe Ward 7 in terms of physical, social and demographic characteristics? Ward 7 has a variety of neighborhoods, including the northeast area of Downtown, Whiteaker, River Road, Santa Clara, Trainsong, and a small, eastern area of Bethel.
The River Road and Santa Clara areas are a “checkerboard” pattern of properties with some residents in the City of Eugene and others in Lane County.
The geography, development histories, and current demographics among (and within) these areas are substantially different. As a result, there are significant diversities, as well as important commonalities among residents. As just one example, downtown’s dense mixture of residential & commercial development appeals to many Ward 7 residents who live around Skinner Butte Park; whereas many residents in Santa Clara appreciate single-family homes on larger lots in a semi-rural environment.
Based on recent Census data in the City’s published “Eugene Ward Boundaries 2021,” the City population within Ward 7 at that time was just shy of 22,000, 85% of whom were voting age (18 and over). The racial breakdown was reported as:

  • White only: 75%
  • Hispanic or Latino/Latina: 12%
  • Two or more races: 7%
  • Black only: 2%
  • Asian only: 2%
  • Other categories: About 2% total

The fact that around a quarter of Ward 7 residents are not “White only” reinforces the importance of providing information to voters in multiple languages, as well as being aware of cultural norms for effective communication and engagement in city processes.
According to data from the Metropolitan Planning Organization, 70% or more of the Downtown, Whiteaker, and Trainsong households are renters. Most of the rest of the area has 40% or fewer renter households. The essential point is that the Ward 7 councilor must understand the issues facing renters and landlords, as well as homeowners.
Having been a long-term, active resident of Ward 7, I haven’t needed Census data to become aware that the economic situation for Ward 7 individuals and households ranges from many unsheltered folks to high-income households, all of whom deserve a “seat at the table” in city government decisions.
The same is true for other personal and political values, which span the spectrum in Ward 7.
Among the distinguishing physical attributes of Ward 7 are that the developed areas are almost entirely flat and low-lying, with the Willamette River as half of the eastern boundary. There are numerous specific differences in natural and “built” physical elements that must be taken into account; for example, stormwater sewers in areas closer to the city center and natural stormwater drainages (e.g., swales) further out in Santa Clara.

2. What are your unique qualifications for representing Ward 7?
I understand the complexity and evolution of issues in Ward 7. Since 1988, I have observed and experienced the effects of changes in Ward 7. The increased population has brought with it the benefits of greater diversity, but also higher costs of living, higher crime, and greater needs for cooperation and planning to meet the needs now and in the future. While some residents and business in Ward 7 are enjoying prosperity, others are struggling to survive.
I believe in the principle that “A rising tide lifts all boats” and not in pitting one economic or demographic group against another.
I have substantial, “real world” experience working with individuals and families from diverse cultures. Working to find solutions that work and have broad support among different interests is not something that would be new to me. I’ve had extensive experience and training for working with people from different cultural, social and economic backgrounds. I’ve taught professionally with diverse populations. For example, I taught in San Jose, California’s Unified School District, which was under Federal Court Order and was required to hire over 80 interpreters and CCLAD (Cross Cultural Language Acquisition and Development) certified teachers and instructional aids, knowledgeable in both culture and language skills. Working with people speaking many languages and from diverse cultures required a strong understanding of “what works,” as well as basic principles of effective instruction and engagement.
I know that a good city councilor must “meet people where they are.” This is essential to represent people who may not have the same experiences and opinions as I do. In addition to my professional and volunteer experiences, over the past several months I’ve spent time getting to know more people throughout Ward 7 — attending meetings, working with people on volunteer projects, listening to their concerns regarding crime, homelessness, transportation plans, affordable housing, and other issues. I understand the greatest concerns of many people in the Whiteaker and Trainsong neighborhoods are crime and impacts from homelessness. Many times a person would tell me that they wanted to help those in need, but also wanted to feel safe.
Those are also concerns of people in Santa Clara and River Road neighborhoods, but quite obviously the future of River Road and development impacts are paramount right now.  There are understandable concerns about traffic congestion, preservation of mature trees, more loss of rural orchards and farms, and protection of the Willamette River Greenway.
As a teacher, union steward, Whiteaker Community Council member, and volunteer with Community Emergency Response Team and other, I’ve listened to and acted on concerns affecting not only my neighborhood but also the larger Eugene community.
I have “real world” experience with housing. I’ve been a renter, a homeowner, and a landlord. My 30 years of experience as one of many Eugene landlords who tries to be fair and respectful of my tenants has made clear that most – but not all – local landlords and their tenants are decent citizens whose relationship benefits both. Locally owned rental housing is a significant portion of available housing, and much of it is relatively affordable to middle- and lower-income households. I can help ensure that the City Council hears the concerns and advice of both landlords and tenants, so our regulations foster a robust and safe rental market.
I know and practice Federal Fair Housing Code and applicable Oregon Revised Statutes.
In the past I also qualified for a Class C contractor license so I could obtain rental rehabilitation loans available under a HUD program.
I’ve engaged and supported Eugene’s neighborhood organizations. I served on the Whiteaker Community Council, and I initiated the Quiet Zone efforts. While on the WCC, I advised the Eugene Parks Department on the need to revitalize the Rose Garden as “formal” garden instead of implementing a staff proposal to allow the park to go “natural/wild.” In recent years, I’ve worked with Parking Services to keep Ward 7 streets free of illegal RV parking, remove unsafe objects in the streets, and help with clean-ups. As a City Councilor, I would continue to work constructively with City.
I recognize the need to improve the city’s communication and engagement of citizens. As Ward 7 Councilor, I would ensure that all Eugene citizens as well as county residents in the Ward 7 area are informed early and fully in an unbiased manner. Regardless of a person’s opinions on housing, transportation, climate change, every citizen is entitled to learn the potential impacts and engage in potential city actions. A critical assessment of the city’s recent public engagement regarding House Bill 2001, MovingAhead, rental regulations, and other issues is necessary so that so many citizens won’t feel like they aren’t “listened to.”
I’m able to serve as a “full-time” city councilor. Without implying any disrespect for applicants who may have full-time jobs, being retired would enable me to spend substantial time engaging constituents and studying issues.
I have experience with “constituent relations.” During my career as a teacher and union representative, I reliably returned parents’ and union members’ phone calls and emails in a timely manner and promptly followed up as needed.
I have experience working as a member of a team. Both as one of fifteen teachers and a member of a large OSEA union group, I worked constructively with others to gather facts, discuss opinions, and develop solutions. I would approach working with the mayor and other councilors in the same way.

3. What are the three most important issues facing the residents of Ward 7?
My answer below is my best understanding of the “top three” concerns among Ward 7 residents, as I perceive them.
These may not necessarily be what others may think are the “most important” issues. My position as a City Councilor would be to respect and address constituents’ major concerns, as well as present information regarding other concerns to constituents so they can be adequately informed to effectively weigh in with the council. Climate change is one example of an issue I personally believe is important, but which I don’t perceive most Ward 7 residents would necessarily list in their “top three” if asked today. (I may be wrong, of course.)
The following are all interrelated:

  • Household financial well-being. Secure jobs, adequate income, housing costs, medical costs, and general inflation are in some form and at some level of significant concern to many Ward 7 residents.
  • Public Safety. Improving public safety of residents and businesses is an issue in many areas, as well. This includes not only major crimes, like burglary, but also property damage and illegal behavior that seriously degrades residents’ enjoyment of their neighborhoods.
  • Housing and Homelessness. Housing that’s affordable to very low-income households, and the needs and impacts of unhoused people are important across much of Ward 7.

4. What do you see as the most pressing needs for the Eugene community and what would be your top priority as a City Councilor? All of the specific, critical problems facing Eugene cannot be solved without fixing the current dysfunction in City Government. The evidence is compelling from the Community Survey responses, the first ever recall of a City Councilor, and what I and others perceive as a 5-4 (now 4-3) division among elected officials.
From my perspective, the City Council is not holding the City Manager accountable for managing public engagement so that the community agrees on facts, even if they differ on opinions. The HB 2001 and EmX on River Road debacles are just two of the most dramatic examples. To those failures could be added the processes dealing with natural gas, landlord regulations, and other important issues.
My top priority would be for councilors to prioritize their (hopefully “our”) own roles as engaging and representing Eugene citizens, rather than more narrowly advocating for their own particular points of view. Throughout this past spring and summer I attended a number of neighborhood meetings and found them edifying as to the variety of opinions. As the Ward 7 Councilor, I would continue to participate in neighborhood meetings, as well as engage organizations that represent citizen-based communities of interest and local businesses.
Because Eugene has a “strong City Manager” form of government with effectively part-time councilors, the City Council needs to be much more assertive in holding the City Manager accountable for deliverables – including public engagement that brings together, rather than divides, the community as has become too common in recent years.
More specifically, the most critical and unmet challenge is to make available safe shelter and transportation for unhoused community members who will respect other housed and unhoused community members. Admittedly, the additional need for mental health treatment and for enforcement of regulations to protect residents and businesses is much more difficult. I would need to learn much more about potential approaches before I would hazard to recommend what should be done.
The other pressing housing need is for subsidized rental housing that’s affordable to very low-income households which is the segment of the Eugene population where a true crisis exists in housing costs. This is an issue where the council needs to revisit the decision to go beyond the requirements of HB 2001 and take steps to mitigate displacement.
One more issue that I would focus on is preservation and creation of sustainable local businesses with good paying jobs. While economic development is an area where I have a lot to learn, I have a sound understanding that incentives and regulations must be carefully targeted at supporting businesses that will be permanent “good citizens” of Eugene, not the next Hyundai.

5. Describe your experience working with a diversity of perspectives and opinions.
During my formative childhood years, I lived in widely different places as my father, an Air Force Master Sergeant, was assigned to duties in locations in the United States (Hawaii, Texas, Nevada, and South Carolina), as well as in Japan for three years.
As early as when I was five, I was exposed to the preferential treatment given to Japanese boys. Although my parents didn’t believe that boys and men had greater importance than girls and women, my parents encouraged me to understand that people in different cultures had their own views, which we should respect.
Through training and my own life experiences, I came to appreciate that the diversity of perspectives arise from other individuals’ experiences and cultural backgrounds that are different, not necessarily better or worse, than mine.
Among the experiences that affected me most was the year during which I taught Hispanic children in kindergarten and first grade in San Jose, California. Although I had California and Oregon teaching licenses when I began, my Spanish was very limited. So, I embarked on a training program for methods to teach non-English speaking students an effective framework for their own language development. Through this training I earned California’s Cross Cultural Language Acquisition and Development (CCLAD) certification. This training was invaluable to my communicating and engaging the non-English speaking students and their parents. 
What I learned from this training and experience has served me well through all my professional, volunteer, and personal interactions ever since. I feel my appreciation for differing perspectives has become even more acute, and this would be one of the core values that I would bring to representing the diverse opinions among Ward 7 residents.

6. How would you work to effectively convey your viewpoint and make decisions as a City Councilor? The most important task for effectively conveying a viewpoint as a City Councilor is an appropriate approach to determining what viewpoint(s) to convey.
I believe a city councilor has a unique responsibility that is different than for a private citizen advocating for their own (or organization’s) specific interests.
The challenge for a councilor is to reconcile the opinions of their ward residents (and businesses), the opinions of residents and businesses in Eugene’s other seven wards, and facts and arguments presented by organizations representing specific interests.
One thing I believe is clear: The wider and deeper that residents have been provided credible and relevant facts and arguments, the less difficult it becomes to reconcile their opinions in many cases. The flip side is also true: When facts are lacking or false or misleading statements are presented as facts, it becomes difficult to resolve conflicting arguments. (The public discord over the HB  2001 code amendments and the advancement of EmX on River Road are examples of this problem.)
One of my priorities would be to hold the City Manager accountable for city staff providing balanced and accurate information to the public, rather than narratives that promote the staff’s advocacy for their own point of view.
I would also diligently seek facts and analysis from independent, respected professionals and organizations and provide that information to the mayor and council.
In the end, I believe a councilor is elected (or in this case appointed) for their judgement in weighing the information and opinions and then presenting to the council one or more viewpoints that have substantial merit for a full discussion of these and the viewpoints of other councilors. In a final decision, I would base my vote based on my judgement as to what would serve the best interests of my constituents without significant negative impact on other Eugene citizens.
Overall, I would apply (and expect) an approach to problem solving that I learned as a union representative. This is described on “The Management Center” website as “Using Fair Process to Make Better Decisions” and is based on three principles:

  1. Engagement
    Involve individuals in the major decisions that affect them by soliciting their input and allowing them to refute the merits of one another’s ideas and assumptions.
  2. Explanation
    Everyone involved and affected should understand why and on what basis major decisions are made.
  3. Expectation clarity
    Identify what consequences stakeholders can expect as the process proceeds.

During deliberations, I would practice the following principles:

  • Prepare by reviewing information from all sources
  • Actively listen and engage other councilors, staff, and individuals who may be participating
  • Ask questions to clarify objectives, facts, and impacts
  • Respect time limits on speaking during meetings
  • Not engage in dismissive, denigrating, or disrespectful comments to any individual
  • Not question the motives of the mayor or other councilors

Outside of meetings, I would comply with regulations and policies regarding contacts among elected officials. I would also engage the City Manager to get additional information and clarifications prior to deliberations at meetings.
I would strive to provide Ward 7 voters with timely and transparent information regarding my decisions and the basis for them. I would request that the City provide every councilor the facility for email “newsletter” communications with the voters in their ward.

7. Describe your experience in the formation or implementation of public policy and regulations. As described briefly under “Prior Governmental Experience,” my engagement with public agencies and organizations has included at least some measure of implementing policies and regulations, as well as advocating for changes when appropriate.
The most relevant experience has been through my work as a member of the OSEA Bargaining Committee. As a union in a public agency (4J School District) our work often involved policies and regulations, mostly in regards to those that applied to employees.
Through this experience, I gained a solid understanding of the difference between policies and regulations. In simple terms, policies should be clear articulations of goals, objectives, direction and required criteria for implementation.
Regulations should be generally clear and objective constraints and requirements that further one or more policies.
The City of Eugene is subject to many State, Federal, and other policies and regulations. The City Council has the responsibility for adopting and revising many policies. One of the most important is the comprehensive plan, which addresses a broad spectrum of concerns, including land use, facilities and services, transportation, the economy, jobs, etc. The benefit of these plan policies is that they are (or can be) written in terms that the general citizenry can understand. The Envision Eugene “pillars are an excellent example of this.
In recent years, however, it sometime seems as if the comprehensive plan has been treated as no longer that relevant. If I were appointed as the interim city councilor, I would like to explore a broad public engagement to revitalize our plans, especially with respect to housing and transportation. 


Reasons I would be a good choice as Ward 7 City Councilor
I have lived in Whiteaker/Ward 7 well over 25 years, served on the Whiteaker Community Council and manage my rental and home for the same time. I am knowledgeable and aware of past and present issues and concerns facing City of Eugene and Ward 7 residents. I have served in the public domain as an educator, union representative and Youth Group Leader. I believe I am the best choice to be appointed to fill this vacancy and as a candidate, thereafter.