December 18, 2009 Volume 110 Number 24

AFSCME’s Pat Riggs-Henson seeks Lane County board seat

Pat Riggs-Henson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Lane County Labor Council, is running for an open seat on the Lane County Board of Commissioners.

A 28-year member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2831, Riggs-Henson retired from her longtime position with the Lane County Workforce Partnership earlier this year.

She is married to Rick Henson, a staff representative for Oregon AFSCME Council 75.

Riggs-Henson, 58, is seeking Position 2 on the five-person County Board. Bill Dwyer, who has held the seat since 1999, is not seeking re-election when his term ends next year.

Throughout her career, Riggs-Henson has been a union and community activist. She served AFSCME Local 2831 in various positions, including president and chief steward. She was on the Oregon AFSCME Executive Board for many years and, for the past several years, served as a Council 75 trustee. She’s been on the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board for 10 years, and is the current vice president representing central labor councils.

Her résumé also includes 14 years as an elected member on the Lane Community College Board of Directors, 10 years on the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) Board of Directors, plus stints on the boards of the Northwest Youth Corps, Lane Council of Governments, Democratic Party of Lane County, and the United Way.

She ran unsuccessfully for the County Commission in 1989.

“It’s a commitment I made to myself 20 years ago,” Riggs-Henson said. “I did very well, though I didn’t ultimately win, and I promised myself that once I retired and really had the time to run an all-out race, I would do it. It turns out that time is now.”

Riggs-Henson has gained the endorsement of every Lane County-area legislator except State Rep. Nancy Nathanson, who has a policy not to make endorsements.

“I’ve spent the last 20 years helping all sorts of labor people run for public office, and now is the time for me to step forward and take that risk myself,” Riggs-Henson said. “It’s no secret who I am or what I stand for. I represent working families and the middle class — which makes me a very good fit for Springfield.”

Several other candidates are considering the race or have filed to run. If any candidate captures over 50 percent of the vote in May, they win. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters would move on to a November 2010 general election run-off.

The primary election, which is non-partisan, will be in May 2010.

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