I had the distinct honor of sitting down with James Cleavenger today for an interview I have known James for a few years and was pleased when he announced his candidacy for Lane County District Attorney last week. He plans on taking on incumbent Patricia W. Perlow. James said he is tired of the rural communities like Cottage Grove, Florence, Pleasant Hill, Creswell, Junction City, and Coburg, being taken for granted and overlooked. Many of the crimes occurring in those communities are not being prosecuted. James went on to say if he were elected he would change the culture at the DA’s office to make it an approachable place to work, where the community could approach DA’s and get their questions answered and have DA’s notify police when offenders are released from custody.
James registered as an independent rather than get involved in politics he just wants to fix what is broken, leaving the politics behind. James said he sees his priorities with the District Attorney’s Office in prosecuting repeat offenders, finding ways to avoid recidivism, and improving communications with the police departments within the county. Saying that the DA’s office needs to communicate when a person is released from jail back into the community to the local police, as many times the returning person is often times violent or even sometimes hostile to police.
James Cleavenger graduated the University of Oregon with a Law Degree in 2008, and has since practiced family law, employment law, and plaintiff law. He clerked for the Honorable Michael McShane while he was with the Circuit Court in Multnomah County and when he was made a District Court Judge for the District of Oregon, working on murder and other felony related trials. James is currently a police office with the City of Oakridge and has been previously employed by the University of Oregon.
Other issues that James felt were important to resolve in Lane County was finding a way to have the DA’s office cooperate with each city council on ways to remedy their homelessness, which seems to be an epidemic that affects all of Lane County. James told me he was also frustrated with nepotism in Lane County, how friends and family get preferential treatment when a more qualified person is often times overlooked.
James said he thinks Perlow may use his lack of criminal law experience against him, but he said the fact that she has been in there so long means she has lost touch with the small people, it has become an us vs. them mentality, whereas it needs to be an us and them mentality.
Written by Stephan Ball