City & Government, Springfield

Sense of Urgency’ – Eyster outlines campaign for mayor

Longtime resident and community leader Mike Eyster is running for mayor of Springfield. His campaign is focusing on economic vitality, safe neighborhoods and transparency in leadership. Photo provided

SPRINGFIELD – Longtime resident and community leader Mike Eyster launched his 2020 mayoral campaign last week because, he said, for all of its successes, the city could be achieving even more.
”There’s talk about being bold, but I don’t think we’re thinking bold enough,” said Eyster, who serves on multiple city committees and boards, and has been a behind-the-scenes force for development.
”I’ve attended most City Council meetings and hear, ‘Glenwood is a diamond in the rough.’ It’s been a diamond in the rough for decades. Where is the urgency to polish the diamond?”
It’s clear that ”urgency” is one of the foundational elements for Eyster’s platform, which is prioritizing economic vitality, safe neighborhoods and transparency in leadership.
Eyster said each area of focus is intertwined to some degree, but the improvement in quality of life for residents is directly tied to Springfield’s economic success. He cited the development downtown, but doesn’t want the energy to stop there.
”What we need to do is find a way to use that as a spark to expand to the entire community,” he said.
He said that kind of revitalization will create more jobs, which in turn will raise the median annual salary of residents in multiple industries.
When it comes to safety in neighborhoods, Eyster said affordable and accessible housing is crucial for the entire community.
”I think in some ways Springfield has had a sense that homelessness is a big problem in Eugene but not in Springfield,” he said. ”Homelessness doesn’t have a boundary. We’re increasingly seeing homeless camps right off Main Street. I don’t think it’s because people have decided to move to Springfield. They’re people who genuinely don’t have a choice or option.”
He added that the city needs to be more creative and urgent than they have been up to this point. The legislature has approved $3 million for a pilot project for a manufactured home community; however, a site hasn’t been located.
”We have $3 million to help a problem and we don’t have a site identified, so that’s what I mean about a sense of urgency,” Eyster said. ”People in businesses who have someone sleeping in their doorway feel a sense of urgency to get that problem solved, but the person sleeping in that doorway is also feeling a sense of urgency because they want to be somewhere warm and dry.”
Eyster said that a transparent leadership style is also important to him, and he described his best leadership qualities as being collaborative and inclusive. He noted that there are people in Springfield who don’t feel they are part of the community, and it’s important to show them how important they are to the city.
”If it wasn’t for the Latinx businesses in our community, we’d be a much poorer place, both culturally and economically,” he said.
Leadership, activism and achievement are not new to Eyster. He is the Springfield Utility Board vice chair, Statewide Transportation Improvement Fund chair, Better Eugene Springfield Transportation president, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee chair, Springfield Renaissance Development Corporation president, and Lane Community College Board of Education Board chair.
He is also a former City Club of Springfield Board chair, Lane Transit District Board chair, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce Board chair, Greater Eugene, Inc. Board president, and Travel Lane County board member.
He was employed at the University of Oregon as senior associate vice president for Student Life, director of University Housing and executive director of the University Health Center.
He was also named the 2014 ”First Citizen” by the Springfield-Area Chamber of Commerce.
”In many ways, (mayoral leadership) is not different from the work I’ve done for a very long time,” he said. ”It all has to do with public policy and weighing needs.”
If elected, Eyster said that he’s not going to take a year to ponder. During his campaign he will be listening to groups as a starting point, but then wants to take action.
”Clearly I need input, but then we need to act,” he said. ”I heard a lot of ‘can do’; we need to focus on ‘will do,’” he said, referring to Mayor Christine Lundberg’s 2020 State of the City address.
Waiting has been one of Eyster’s biggest concerns for the city. He has testified about the Patrician Mobile Home Park development before and elaborated that the person who bought the property years ago had announced his intent to sell and develop it, but there was no Plan B in the works for when the park would be developed.
”It’s the responsibility of the city to say, ‘What can we do so it’s not a cliff for the people who are living here?’” he said. ”I’m not sure of the answer to that, but I am sure I can pull the right people together and we’re going to work on that and find an answer to it.”
Eyster said he is committed and energized about the opportunities, and isn’t willing to wait on pushing Springfield forward.
”I’m very excited for this opportunity to bring my leadership style and commitment to the community,” he said.



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos