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April 16, 2014

Duck takes aim at Corvallis City Council

Oregon Law student Zach Baker to run for Ward 3 council seat

Between attending class, hours of intensive reading and studying — not to mention juggling the demands of a job and externships — University of Oregon School of Law students are busy people. Zach Baker (3L) is no exception. 

But despite his already daunting set of responsibilities as a law student, Baker, 31, has announced he will be taking on yet another challenge: running for Corvallis City Council.

Baker's decision to run for the Ward 3 City Council seat is motivated not only by his legislative expertise and involvement with the Corvallis community, but also by his penchant for shaping economic and environmental public policy.

The prospective city councilor expects to obtain his Oregon Law degree in May, graduating with a concentration in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Baker says his experience at Oregon Law played a pivotal role in preparing him for his upcoming city council campaign.

"Given that working to protect the environment will be a priority of mine as a City Councilor, the numerous environmental law classes I've taken will prove particularly useful," said Baker.

According to Baker, Oregon Law's nationally renowned environmental law program afforded him a more informed perspective regarding existing environmental legislation. Baker credits his experience as an Oregon Law student, and his involvement with the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in particular, with stoking his reexamination of whether existing laws are actually working as intended, if they are suited to address future challenges and, most importantly, how they might be improved.

"By engaging with these questions, I determined that there was a lot of room for improvement in our current laws," Baker said, adding, "Building upon the lessons I learned from my prior policy background and community engagement I decided that the most useful step I could take to bring about that improvement was to run for elected office."

Prior to attending Oregon Law, Baker spent more than four years in Washington, D.C., serving as a lobbyist, activist, and policy analyst. During his time in the nation's capitol, Baker worked for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the National Wildlife Federation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture before deciding to return to Oregon to attend law school.

"Having come to law school to sharpen my knowledge and skills as an advocate, my time at Oregon Law has been well spent," said Baker.

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