Matthews stakes his claim in crowded East Lane race

KVAL News has reached out to all 5 East Lane candidates for interviews. Tom Adams has tentative interviews with Commissioner Faye Stewart and candidate Jose Ortal set for Thursday. An interview with Joann Ernst is pending. Jack Schoolcraft declined to be interviewed. In the May 20 primary, if no single candidate gets over 50 percent of the vote, the top 2 will advance to the November ballot.

DEXTER, Ore. - It's a crowded ballot for East Lane County Commissioner, with 4 challengers trying to unseat commissioner Faye Stewart.

One of the challengers, Kevin Matthews, is perhaps best known for his environmental activism with the group Friends of Eugene.

An architecture magazine editor and newfound horse rancher, Matthews is making his first run for political office in the East Lane race.

His platform is for responsible forest practices, clean water and grassroots rural economic development.

"I don't think we should be investing tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money in infrastructure that will only benefit a few companies," he said.

Matthews is talking about the proposal to extend sewer and water services to the Goshen area for possible industrial development.

Matthews said on public safety, the lack of sheriff's deputies on the rural patrols is "a ticking time bomb."

But before the county talks about new revenue, the candidate said the county needs to restore public trust on the $500 million county budget.

"Open it up. Let the sunshine in so that voters can really see where money comes in to Lane County and where it gets spent," he said.

On last year's scandal that led to the firing of former administrator Liane Richardson, Matthews feels it was no accident.

"So when that blew up, it was not, 'oh gee that came out of the blue' - it was a natural consequence of polarization and partisan politics," he said.