City Club of Eugene: Farewell to Mayor Kitty Piercy

Dec 12, 2016

Recorded on: December 9, 2016

Air Date: December 12, 2016

Mayor Kitty Piercy
Credit Rachael McDonald

In the final month of a 12-year run as Mayor of Eugene, Kitty Piercy will share her experience as mayor of one of the largest cities in Oregon.

As a strong leader working within a weak-City-Council, strong-City-Manager form of governance, Piercy often headlined the news when she broke 4 to 4 ties on City Council votes on controversial local issues. In reflecting on her long service to the City, Piercy will share parting words and offer advice to incoming office holders as well as reflect on her successes and near misses as Mayor.

Piercy has been a fierce proponent of education and climate change mitigation and has pushed for the provision of more effective social services while juggling the challenges of business development and regulation. She has been instrumental in taking determined, practical stands for humane solutions to social issues such as supporting homeless rest stops and partnering with local social service providers to build housing for homeless veterans.

Piercy has never shied away from controversy. Known for standing up for what she believes in, whether or not it is popular, Piercy has been criticized for being an activist mayor, while on the other hand praised for being a facilitator who brings divergent City Councilors together to work on tough issues such as use of tax credits to support downtown development and expansion of the EMX transit system.

Unapologetic when accused of over-reaching her position by supporting initiatives such as the failed ballot proposal to increase income taxes to pay for education, or successfully leading Mayors nationally to fight climate change, Piercy has been an outspoken leader regionally, yet a quiet voice and steady hand locally steering Eugene city government.

Early in her first term she assembled a broad group of stakeholders into a forum called the Sustainable Business Initiative, one of whose recommendations was to create the city’s Sustainability Commission, which the Council officially created in 2007. In 2005 Piercy became an early signatory of the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. As of 2012 over 900 mayors had signed the Agreement.

Additional biographical information:

Kitty Piercy was first elected Mayor of Eugene in 2004. She won re-election is 2008 and 2012. Prior to serving as Mayor she served in the Oregon Legislature from 1995 to 2000. As a member of the Oregon House she represented a district that included areas of west Eugene, River Road and Santa Clara. She served in leadership positions including Minority Leader for the House Democrats in 1999. From 2000 to 2004 she was Public Affairs Director for Planned Parenthood. She began her working career as a teacher, specializing is early childhood education.