DPLC History

The Democratic Party of Lane County is a true grassroots organization. Hundreds of your fellow citizens volunteer their time, talents and resources to promote Democratic candidates and progressive causes, creating a better community for us all. The DPLC is, and always has been, an all-volunteer organization. 

Over 200 years ago, the Democratic Party's founders decided that great wealth and social status were not entitlements to rule. They believed that wisdom and compassion could be found within every individual, and that a stable government must be built upon a broad, popular base. Today, we Democrats can reflect on a proud history that transcends political organization: a national vision. Our vision is based on the strength and power of millions of Americans who are economically empowered, socially diverse and politically active. Oregon Democrats share this vision, and they promote it vigorously.

Oregon's progressive leanings were evident even before statehood. Our first governor, John Whiteaker, was a Democrat, as were four of our first six governors. Women's suffrage won an early victory in Oregon when the State Legislature approved a woman's right to vote in 1912, nearly a decade before the 19th Amendment was passed.

Over the years, the Democratic Party of Lane County has focused on issues such as environmental protection, universal healthcare, protection of endangered species, Native Americans' rights, common-sense firearms controls, right-to-die legislation, marriage equality and affordable, quality education.

Many noteworthy Oregon Democrats have served as Chair or Vice-Chair of the DPLC, including:

  • Phil Barnhart, the current Representative to the Oregon House for HD11, representing portions of Lane and Linn counties
  • Val Hoyle, the former Majority Leader of the Oregon House. Her district included West Eugene and Junction City
  • Nancy Nathanson, the current Representative to the Oregon House for HD13, representing North Eugene and Santa Clara
  • Kitty Piercy, who has served as Mayor of Eugene since 2005. She was formerly the Minority Leader in the Oregon House of Representatives.
  • Vicki Walker, who served as Oregon State Director for Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She previously served in both the Oregon Senate and the Oregon House of Representatives.

Other elected officials have held leadership positions within the party, including:

  • Pete Sorenson (former DPLC Budget Committee Chair), who has served on the Lane County Board of Commissioners since 1996. Previously, he was Assistant Minority Leader in the Oregon Senate.