Protest outside, politics inside at county courthouse

EUGENE, Ore. - Protesters camped out on the footsteps of Free Speech Plaza outside the Lane County Courthouse as Monday's State of Lane County Address was given to a packed house just feet away inside.

The address began with the swearing in of Lane County Sheriff Thomas Turner, South Eugene County Commissioner Pete Sorenson and North Eugene County Commissioner Pat Farr.

Sorenson, who was reelected for the 5th time this year, said he will work hard for all the underserved and to get behind those that are trying to protect the vulnerable.

Sorenson shares the record for most re-elected county commissioner in Lane County set back in 1976.

Newly elected North Eugene Commissioner Pat Farr began his acceptance speech with a quip about agreeing with everything Sorenson had said in his speech. The crowd in Harris Hall laughed.

Farr said his top priority would be to protect Lane County's stretched budgets.

Sheriff Turner was sworn in next, and thanked his family and close friends for their support.

After a short media presentation by the county, Commission Chair Sid Leiken from Springfield gave the State of Lane County Address.

Leiken applauded officials for curtailing spending while coming up with creative sources of revenue.

He said, "Lane County has not chosen the easy way out."

Leiken's address focused on public safety in spite of cutbacks to the sheriff's office, public health and the health of the county's economy.

SLEEPS (for Safe, Legally Entitled Emergency Places to Sleep) members camped in protest outside. The group has rallied against laws that ban sleeping in a tent or sleeping bag in a public space.

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