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Outgoing Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy Reflects On Her 3 Terms In Office


Three-term Eugene mayor Kitty Piercy, at the studios of KLCC after an interview with OPB's "Think Out Loud."

Three-term Eugene mayor Kitty Piercy, at the studios of KLCC after an interview with OPB's "Think Out Loud."

Allison Frost/OPB

Kitty Piercy, the Democratic mayor of Eugene, is leaving the job after a three-term run. The second-longest serving mayor in the city’s history, she leaves office in January.

Piercy had previously served as a state lawmaker and had a career in teaching and early childhood education before entering politics. She also worked as the public affairs director for Planned Parenthood for sometime.

“Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller recently sat down with Piercy in Eugene to talk about her successes as the city’s top elected leader, and what she had to leave undone.

Piercy says she would have liked to have completed a new Eugene City Hall. Plans were drawn up before she took office, but the recession and other complications arose during the course of her 12 years in office.     

“I happen to be someone who feels that City Hall is really not just a building for employees and bureaucrats,” she said. “To me, City Hall is a place where the public comes to make policies that are most important for our community. It’s where we join together to talk about who we want to be and what we want to be as a city.”

Piercy said she’s proud of how the city’s downtown core and tech industry have recovered since the recession. And she’s proud of the progress the city has made on homelessness — effectively ending veteran homelessness and adding more shelter space, including so-called rest stops.

Members of the Nightingale Health Sanctuary rest stop, Ron Pike (left_, Nathan "Red" Showers and Bill Gibson, work to move to a new location near the Eugene Mission.

Members of the Nightingale Health Sanctuary rest stop, Ron Pike (left_, Nathan "Red" Showers and Bill Gibson, work to move to a new location near the Eugene Mission.

Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard

“People come from all over the country to look at our rest stops because they are functioning so well. And so I think, as we have a housing crisis, that this is better than being out here in the parks or out on the riverbank. But it’s certainly our aim for people to spend a short time in these rest stops and then be helped to move forward into more permanent housing options.”

Piercy recently traveled to the White House to receive national recognition from first lady Michelle Obama. Miller asked Piercy what it was like to get to go to Washington, D.C., just a few days after the Democratic Party lost the presidential election.

“It was a wonderful experience to be there,” she said. “And to have that opportunity, so close and personal to meet with the first lady and to talk to other mayors who’ve been working on similar kinds of things. I think, you know, we all have this ability to compartmentalize when you need to — so even if  you’re not happy with the results of the election, you know, life moves on. And you’ve got to do your job and you’ve got to do business. And you’ve got to work within the restraints that are in front of you.”

Piercy says she’s not sure what a Trump presidency will mean for her progressive community. She’s “braced,” she says, but not worried.

“I have a great faith in my community . I think that we will continue to do the right thing. And we will continue to work hard to be sure that people are safe and this is a good place to live. And we protect the things that we care about.”

Piercy’s successor, progressive Lucy Vinis, will be sworn in as the new mayor before her first State of the City address on Jan. 4.

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