Eugene City Councilor Bonny Bettman announced Thursday she will not seek re-election this fall for her seat on the council.
At a morning press conference held at the Kiva grocery store downtown, Bettman also endorsed a candidate to replace her – Kiva founder and owner George Brown.
“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em,” Bettman said. “I wanted to find a well-qualified successor … I’ve worked with George before. He’s quite steeped in local issues, and he has a lot of skills with being a downtown business owner” for more than 30 years.
The South Eugene ward that Bettman represents “needs to have its progressive values heard on the council,” and Brown can do that, Bettman said.
Though the official announcement was made Thursday, Brown said he’s known about Bettman’s decision for several weeks. He’s already filed paperwork with the city and formed a campaign committee, he said.
Many of Brown’s beliefs are in step with Bettman’s, he said, and he plans to bring some of the same attitudes to the council.
“I honestly wonder if anyone could really adequately fill Bonny’s shoes. She’s been such a great progressive voice,” Brown said. “I’m going to do the best that I can.”
Bettman served on the council for eight years, after her volunteerism within the community led her to run for the elected office.
She said some of her proudest accomplishments were the addition of a police auditor and civilian review board. She was also instrumental in renaming Martin Luther King Boulevard. “It needed to be done,” she said. A major priority for her public career has been to “work on aligning city policies with city priorities,” she added.
“I applaud her for the eight years she’s done this. She is a hard worker and I’ll miss her and her hard work,” Councilor Andrea Ortiz said.
Brown has also long been involved in city affairs. He vocally opposed an urban renewal extension that Eugene voters overwhelmingly defeated in November, as did Bettman.
Though there currently aren’t any other candidates to succeed Bettman and represent Ward 1, Brown said he doesn’t expect the race to stay that way. A Eugene resident since 1970, he said he’s excited for the opportunity to become more involved in the community.
“I’m just really looking forward to giving something back,” Brown said. “Eugene’s given me so much, so many wonderful things.”