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VanGordon appointed Interim Mayor of Springfield, says white supremacy a concern

Sean VanGordon sworn in as interim Mayor of Springfield on Tuesday (SBG)

New leadership is taking place in Springfield as Sean VanGordon was appointed Interim Mayor Tuesday night.

He'll finish the term that was vacated by former mayor Christine Lundberg last year.

"The short term plans are, how do you get past what's left over from 2020," Mayor VanGordon said. "We all want to get past Covid as fast as we can, get businesses open."

VanGordon expects the next nine months to be focused on COVID-19 and economic recovery.

Another major issue is police reform.

Former mayor Lundberg was criticized for the way she handled the Thurston protest and arrests from the summer, which is still being investigated.

"I think a lot of the discussion people in the community are looking for are really going to come out of the investigative report," VanGordon says.

That report should be out by the end of January.

He will wait to move forward until that investigation is done.

In Tuesday night's city council meeting, many residents expressed worries about white supremacy in the community.

There were rising concerns of white supremacists in Springfield.

"Right now, it really, I think, is a conversation about who we want to be as a community, ya know," VanGordon said. "You got a couple of issues that come out of that; some are national."

Are the concerns of white supremacy valid?

"Oh yeah," the Interim Mayor said, "I think they're absolutely valid."

Eric Richardson with the NAACP says that concern is real.

"The threat is real," said Richardson. "Lane County and Oregon, as you know, came into the Union as an exclusionary state, so this is an ongoing narrative."

He says a lot that goes into fighting it is education.

"The narrative is going to be important when we look at how to combat white supremacy," said Richardson. "It's really a worldview."

And Mayor VanGordon says there's no place for white supremacy in Springfield - but its' a question of how community leaders will address how to move forward from there.