Recall removes unionist from Eugene City Council


Longtime union activist Claire Syrett, who was serving her third term on the Eugene City Council, lost a Sept. 6 special recall election, with 59.3% of voters supporting the recall (2,312 in favor and 1,588 against). But a legal challenge to the recall is still pending.

Claire Syrett

Syrett works for the Oregon Nurses Association as a labor representative and has long been involved with the Eugene area’s Jobs with Justice chapter, the Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network. She was elected to the Eugene City Council in 2012.

The recall petition centered on a transit project some residents were opposed to. In the petition filed in April, chief petitioner Gerald Morton claims Syrett did not listen to public opposition in voting for a plan to install a bus lane in place of two car lanes on a Eugene road.

In her response to the petition, Syrett said using the recall because of a vote she cast is an abuse of the recall system. Disagreements over policy should be settled through the regular election system, she said, adding that she was up for election again in 2023.

“Recalls are a means to remove an elected official who has broken the law or otherwise violated public trust,” declared Syrett’s campaign website. “This does not apply to Councilor Syrett, who has worked in good faith to represent Ward 7 voters over the past 10 years.”

The Eugene Register-Guard reported that Syrett and her campaign filed a complaint in Lane County Circuit Court in late August, alleging that the recall petitioners misrepresented the facts in framing her votes on the transit project. The lawsuit asks the court to find that the signatures gathered by spreading false information were gathered fraudulently and should be disregarded. The suit is still pending.


  1. That’s certainly a misleading headline. The recall question won’t be settled until the court case is decided. The election results have not yet been certified and Syrett has not been removed from office as of 9/14/22

    • Syrett’s lawyers dropped the suit against recall organizers. They would have been soundly defeated in court. Despite that, Syrett should face consequences filing what she knew was a bogus case…

  2. EMX River road is worse than a bad idea. EMX West 11th/hwy 126 is the main east/west route. Hwy 99 is the equivalent north/south route. River road was the hwy 99 route until 1936. It was moved to the west side of the railroad (Prairie road) to reduce traffic on River road. It worked and in 1946 the current hwy 99 from Eugene to Junction city was constructed. The infrastructure being crammed into River road furthers the City of Eugene’s agenda to annex but is not consistent with the historical plan. The same improvements placed along hwy 99 would draw traffic away from River road along Belt-line, Maxwell, Irving, Irvington, and Enid roads simultaneously providing service to all of Lane county. For the record when a public representative misrepresents their constituents it is immoral and absolutely a reason for recall.

  3. I know the federal government slowed the city of Eugene down back in the 90’s when the sewer annexation plan was exposed. The official city line now is they are not trying to annex but of course they are. Placing EMX on hwy 99 would serve the airport, provide transportation to and from business work places, facilitate business sales from all points in Eugene, Junction City, Monroe, Harrisburg, Halsey, etc., while serving and reducing congestion on River road. Ridership on the west 11th/hwy 126 route is good because of the destinations served east and west. EMX Hwy 99 would complete the plan to the north and south. The River road area has always been a transportation bottleneck dating back to the original donation land claims. Sandwiched to the east by the Willamette river and the west by the Southern Pacific railroad. In 1925 the city of Eugene purchased 205 acres for the rail road yard and gave them to Southern Pacific railroad in exchange for Southern Pacific giving up their plan to locate in Springfield.

  4. Long time union member, and long time supporter of Clair, and I voted *not* to recall her, but residents of ward 7 are felling at the end of their rope and talking to my neighbors its not the EMX route at all. All of Eugene’s new permanent homeless camps have been concentrated in ward 7 specifically Trainsong, and while the most residents are sympathetic I think she mist the grumbling when the 3rd then 4th one’s were set up. All less than a 1/4 mile from eachother.
    The other issue people are upset about is the payroll tax was forced on them. And its so overly complicated (unlike the simple LTD tax) payroll and HR accountants complain about the time it takes to do all the record keeping. Small business spend more money on paying the accountants to do the paperwork than they end up owing on the tax.
    I hope she can still beat this, but if your reading this Clair your supporters can only support so much.

    • As someone who worked on recalling Claire Syrett, and actually canvassed areas in Ward 7, EMX was the main reason she was recalled. She made a statement claiming she thought she hadn’t heard any opposition against EMX on RR. That’s straight up not true. Nearly five hundred signed petitions, and about 150 from Ward 7 alone, were put on her desk days before she made that statement, and voted to advance plans for a failed bus system. Oh, you guys didn’t hear? EMX has never achieved benchmarks and projections established prior to its 2007 rollout. Neither Syrett, nor her other five city council minions who also voted to advance EMXplans, bothered to do their due diligence regarding the efficacy of the EMX. She, as well as the bulk of Eugene/Lane County political-administrative apparatus, completely failed in serving the public.

      Eugene residents were NOT informed of EMX because the engineering plans created by CH2M Hill were never publicly displayed. When we finally got them, and actually showed Ward 7 residents the extent of damage the EMX would cause, they were outraged. That’s why she was recalled…

    • As a beancounter, I can attest to the complex new payroll tax. I didn’t hear a word about it until a year after it was implemented, and was then charged 25% late filing penalties for 4 quarters. It was quietly rammed thru by a ‘committee’ in true Syrett style.

  5. Although EmX was the “spark” that ignited the recall, Syrett was recalled by an overwhelming 18-point margin because she is fundamentally anti-democratic and disparaging of her own constituents who have differing opinions.
    The two links below are recall campaign ads that provide a pretty good summary of the basis for her losing so badly even with lots more money and the entire local Democratic organization coming in with heavy artillery to support her.
    Go to page 20
    Go to page 20.

    Her lawsuit was a sham, “SLAPP.” I expect it will be dismissed shortly. She has switched attorneys, and they have indicated to the judge that they plan to amend their filing. A good article is at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.