Three candidates make their case to Eugene voters to become the city’s next mayor

By Rebecca Hansen-White (KLCC)
April 30, 2024 11:45 a.m.

With Oregon’s primary election approaching, Eugene voters have three distinctive choices to replace their outgoing two-term mayor Lucy Vinis: an architect, a longtime educator and an artist.

Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis speaks in front of PeaceHealth University District hospital in Eugene, Ore., in this Sept. 11, 2023 file photo. Vinis announced last year she did not intend to run for a third term.

Brian Bull / KLCC

Eugene will soon have a new face in the mayor’s office.


Last year, current mayor Lucy Vinis announced she wouldn’t seek a third term.

She threw her support behind Kaarin Knudson, saying it was time to make room for new voices.

Knudson is an architect, author and founder of an affordable housing nonprofit. She said she’s spent years working outside of city hall to address the region’s most pressing challenges.

“My background and experience and familiarity with issues like housing, and homelessness and climate change, infrastructure and transportation, building cities that are sustainable, livable and beautiful — that is relevant experience in this role,” she said. “I hope it will also help our community have great information and have really good conversations about the decisions that we’re making and the tradeoffs we might have to weigh.”

Also on the ballot: Shanaè Joyce-Stringer, a newcomer to politics and Eugene. She said voters are looking for a change.

“They’re tired of the status quo, or they’re tired of feeling, ‘Oh, governance is only for a certain group, or for a certain community, or if you’re only tied to certain individuals,” she said. “I’m an everyday Eugenian. I truly reflect the people in this community.”

Joyce-Stringer is a long-time educator who moved to Oregon during the pandemic. She’s worked at Eugene 4J School District, Lane Education Services District and owns a life-coaching business.

Candidates Kaarin Knudson, left, Shanaè Joyce-Stringer, center and Stefan Strek, right, answer questions during a city club forum in March, 2024.

Rachael MacDonald / KLCC

Both candidates are focused on the housing crisis.

Knudson said the city should explore innovative ideas like turning under-used spaces, especially parking lots, into housing.

“There are remarkable amenities in our downtown core,” she said. “We have fantastic access to transit, world class arts, full service grocery stores, and lots of the pieces of the puzzle that make up a great neighborhood. What we don’t have is housing.”

Joyce-Stringer is a renter, and said more people with perspectives like hers need to be included in city housing policy.


“We have a lot of homeowners, individuals who have been homeowners for a long time leading the charge and leading the conversation on housing,” she said. “And yes, they do have a necessary voice, but I also believe we need to have greater representation of renters, greater representation with lived experience of being unhoused, those who are currently unhoused.”

Both women, as well as the third candidate in the race, Stefan Strek, are also focused on homelessness.

Strek is an artist who has unsuccessfully run for office several times before. He said Eugene should have a 24-hour library, more bus service and accessible public restrooms.

“Just providing a basic level of human services really is the first step toward a viable solution where everybody is treated humanely and given positive, effective and safe living conditions,” he said.

Knudson said she already has a track record in addressing homelessness through her work to help establish Eugene’s first affordable housing trust fund.

“That trust fund has already catalyzed more than $44 million in new affordable housing in our community and it’s protected 100 households from homelessness,” she said. “That is work that’s happening that’s not workforce housing, not market rate housing that is very specifically focused on the needs of our unhoused population and people who need access to affordable housing.”

She said if she’s elected mayor, she hopes to continue similar projects and look for new partnerships to address homelessness as a region.

Joyce-Stringer said the city should be partnering and supporting organizations that have already been successfully addressing homelessness.

“How can some of that work be duplicated?” she said. “They’re doing great work, we need to acknowledge that work and we need to help them be able to grow.”

She said another approach the city could consider is creating a service hub where people can access a variety of services in one place.

Knudson and Joyce-Stringer have also both said if elected, they’d work to address health issues caused by the closure of the PeaceHealth University District Hospital.

Knudson is far ahead in fundraising, reporting more than $160,000 in donations. Her largest contributor is the Eugene Realtors PAC, which has donated more than $60,000 of in-kind support.

Knudson also has support from most of the Eugene city council and two former mayors.

Joyce-Stringer has raised close to $8,000, most of which is small contributions from individual donors.

Strek has not reported any fundraising to Oregon’s campaign finance system.

The Eugene mayor’s race is nonpartisan. If no candidate exceeds 50%, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election this fall.