by Maddie Berney
I believe with all my heart that my husband is one of the most dedicated, hardworking, and genuine public servants to serve in this county.
He hit the ground running even before being officially sworn to duty in January 2019, and when 2020 rolled in with its unprecedented set of crises—the worldwide pandemic, civic and political unrest, and unimaginably destructive wildfires—Joe never seemed to miss a beat.
Working largely remotely for the past 15 months, he’s often in four or five meetings a day, several of which he chairs. While some are routine committee-related assignments that board members participate in during the course of a term, the emergency situations that emerged during 2020 have required unparalleled and intense coordination with multiple agencies from municipal to state levels. Joe has stepped up accordingly, staying informed and providing support to the organizations and segments of government guiding relief efforts, and always advocating for Springfield.
This means going above and beyond the work of a typical elected official, certainly beyond the hours and duties of many administrative positions.
Joe and Maddie Berney
I can see where it would be much easier to take a back seat to the pressure during these times, or to vote “as expected” without putting in the time required to give important issues a hard look. Many people would be completely overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of calls and emails a commissioner gets every day. But Joe remains undaunted by the enormity and breadth of his responsibilities. He puts in the time (often seven days a week, 12 hours a day) required to take intelligent, decisive action, and build trusting and lasting connections. And, amazingly, I can tell he really likes this job.
If you’ve gotten to know Joe at all, you know he almost always wears a big smile. This is his default setting and it projects positivity and approachability in even the most serious of situations. Communicating and developing relationships are two of Joe’s greatest strengths and I’m convinced they are what provide the fuel for his success. His greatest joy comes from getting to know others and helping people find solutions to problems great and small. When I hear his unmistakable laugh on his umpteenth phone or zoom call, I know he’s genuinely engaged with both the topic and party at hand. And that makes me happy, too.
With Lane County Director of Health and Human Services Karen Gaffney at a county mass vaccination site at Lane County Fairgrounds