Leiken loses bid for third term on county board

Joe Berney headed for victory by narrow margin.

Posted: May. 16, 2018 12:09 AM
Updated: Oct. 25, 2018 12:41 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- After holding elected office for the last 20 years, Lane County Commissioner Sid Leiken appears to be out of a job.

Leiken narrowly lost his bid for reelection on Tuesday night, defeated by political newcomer Joe Berney.

According to unofficial results, Berney received 51.9 percent of the votes, to Leiken's 47.8 percent. That came to a difference of 461 votes out of 11,209 cast.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed," Leiken said. "But I'm proud of the work that I did for 20 years for this community. And you know what?  It's public service, and the voters have a right, and they chose a different path, and I'm good with that."

Leiken was first elected to the Springfield city council in 1998 and then served as mayor from 2000 to 2010. He was elected to the county board in 2010.

Berney, 65, is a retired business leader who said it's time to get to work.

"I've run any number of businesses and organizations," Berney said. "I look forward to having an opportunity to run Lane County in directions that we have not looked at yet."

Berney will take office in January.

Berney said he's looking forward to learning from Leiken, and the day after the election, Leiken had texted him to congratulate him.

"I think it's time for a change. That's not a bad thing. In fact, that's often a good thing," Berney said. "Jefferson, one of our founding fathers said that we need a revolution every 30 years to make sure the cobwebs of democracy do not get too strong."

He said there are a few things he wants to address immediately upon taking office. One of those is proposing to drop the last commissioner salary increase until it's approved by the voters. Another is to look for new ways for Lane County to invest in itself.


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