The last three years have been good ones here in Eugene, with the leadership of our mayor, Kitty Piercy. The atmosphere seems lighter, more easy and free. Kitty does a good job of balancing the needs of the economy and the environment. She has a pretty darn good sense of priorities. She's led us to some really good choices, in the Strategic Plans for sustainability, bicycle and pedestrian traffic, and so on. I haven't heard her speak of it, but I have the feeling that she understands Peak Oil.
In contrast, Jim Torrey stands as the tool of big developers. As far as I can tell, he wants government to help most those that need it least. He's shown no sign that he's ever even heard of Peak Oil, much less understands it. And his war chest shows it. Sure, he's a nice guy, but his policies benefit only the smallest, richest demographic.
My biggest concern, however, is not Jim's economic disabilities. It's more personal than that. It is that I really want to live in a welcoming, safe community.
You see, Jim Torrey has so little understanding of transgendered people that he opposes my right to use the women's restrooms. "What's to stop some young man in a high school from coming to school one day, and in his mind, his perception is today he thinks he's more female-oriented than male?" Excuse me? Gender identity isn't something you switch on and off at will. I wish it were – life would be a lot easier. Gender identity is who you are.
Meanwhile, if I wander into a men's room, I stand a significant chance of physical violence – not to mention the extreme discomfort of even being there.
Fortunately, Oregon state law provides some protection. Torrey's not going to make something like that happen in Eugene. And he certainly won't do anything to me directly, though he may try to get me fired from the city staff. So why should I fear for my safety?
It is because leadership has powerful influence on the people underneath. It is because leaders choose like-minded people to serve as their assistants. It is because, when the atmosphere shifts at the top from one of acceptance to barely tolerant or intolerant, it shifts beneath, as well. Not for everyone, of course, but enough to make my life, and the lives of my family, a little more uncomfortable, and perhaps enough that one person who lives at the edge of violence will choose to go over it, knowing that the victim of his anger is at best barely tolerated by the figurehead of the city.
Besides, a lack of understanding usually doesn't lead to greater understanding, and I'd like to be understood.
Please, everyone, vote for Kitty. She's the best choice for mayor of Eugene, no matter how you cut it.