Get to know Joe Better

by Maddie Berney

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Thank you for taking some time to get to know Joe. His first four years on the Board of Commissioners has shown he has the sensibility, skill and experience to successfully represent Springfield.

I'd like to give more background and insight into Joe the person - because character matters!  

First, a few basics. We each have three adult children, and together raised our youngest sons until they graduated from high school and moved on to college. Five of the six currently live in the area, and we are blessed with a growing family that includes a son-in-law, daughter-in-law, three granddaughters and a grandson. I've been a public school teacher for most of my life, and have been a resident of Springfield for 38 of the last 44 years. All of my children were born here and attended Springfield schools, and the oldest granddaughter is currently a happy sixth grader at Thurston Middle School. We love living here, and care deeply about the issues that affect the livability of Lane County for all citizens.

With granddaughter Mallory Owens at his office during Bring Your Daughter to Work Day

Joe is a true public servant, not a career politician. His 2018 run for Lane County Commissioner was his first campaign. From his resume - and from his first four years on the Board -one can see he has championed the interests of many throughout his life from many different platforms. 

Joe walks the talk. He pursues something because he truly believes in what an organization, cause, project, group or individual represents. He's confident of the value he can provide and will work non-stop to further important and legitimate goals. His accomplishments within both public sector agencies and in the private sector as a business owner clearly attest to this trait. 

Joe is open and accessible. With Joe, what you see is what you get. He cares, he listens, he responds, he acts. People trust him to get the job done in a professional manner and with the utmost integrity.

Joe knows adversity, and will fight for those who struggle. As an insulin-dependent diabetic for most of his life, Joe is very familiar with the difficulties of navigating the health care and insurance industries, and their connection to stress in everyday life, from securing employment and housing to providing for the basic needs of a family. 

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With son David and the newest member of the Berney family

Joe has changed many lives for the better. I'm continually amazed by how many people from all walks of life have been encouraged, inspired and/or assisted over the years by Joe's words and actions on their behalf. He believes in investing in the dignity and potential of all people, that everyone deserves a fair shake and, if needed, a second chance or leg up to prove their worth and contribute to society. His positive, contagious, "can-do" attitude generates hope and possibility with any enterprise he's involved with.  

Joe cares deeply about the future we're leaving our children and grandchildren. Will Lane County be the kind of place where future generations will be able earn a good living, raise their own families and enjoy the abundance and beauty of a healthy environment? Will they have the skills and training necessary to navigate new opportunities and a continually changing workplace? Ultimately the livability of this special part of the state is what it comes down to. Joe has both the short-term focus and long-term vision to promote this worthy goal.   

Joe’s medallion from Joslin Diabetes Center commemorating living 50 years with diabetes. 

Finally, a personal story that sums up what Joe is all about. Joe's first wife passed away from cancer in 2003.  At the time, their son David was in middle school. Joe put his own career on hold somewhat for several years in order to provide care and transition their son though this difficult period. He made a commitment to honor her last wish: that David receive a Catholic school education. It wasn't easy financially or logistically, but it was the right thing to do.  David enrolled at Marist High School and flourished there, helping lead the Spartans to the 2008 State Basketball Championship. 

Joe is a man who sees the glass half full, gives thanks daily for what he has, and deals head on with obstacles thrown his way.  He has been a role model for several generations, creating jobs and opportunities for many, and is much-admired for his warm and genuine personality. As his wife, I'm of course his biggest fan! But many of the characteristics that I respect and admire are ones that also serve his constituents well - and will continue to serve them well for another four years.

Joe and Maddie on beach

The Berneys and their dog Rascal at Bob Creek Beach