Central Point woman plays key role in opposing a proposed supercenter

In the spotlight

: This is one of a series of occasional articles highlighting residents who find themselves in the news because of their activism in local or national issues.

A mother of two living in a new Central Point subdivision, Becca Croft seems an unlikely person to take on Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer.

This has been my first venture into politics, said the 29-year-old chairwoman of the citizen activist group Central Point First. I didn't ask for this. Wal-Mart knocked on my door and left a big stink bomb and we're trying to put out the fire.
— Feisty, smart and direct, Croft doesn't mince words when it comes to Wal-Mart's plans to build a 207,000-square-foot Supercenter at the corner of East Pine Street and Hamrick Road, but she stresses she had nothing against the retail giant.

There are a lot of people who think I'm an anti-Wal-Mart person, and I'm not, she said.

Wal-Mart's proposal was denied by the Central Point City Council on April 15. Company representatives have not yet indicated whether they will appeal.

But after her battles with the company and what she perceives as its underhanded tactics, Croft said, I don't have anything against capitalism, but I lost respect for them as a company.

As an example, Croft said Wal-Mart has not accurately represented the impacts of the store on traffic.

Registered as a Republican, Croft describes herself as fiscally conservative and a Christian, but open to ideas.

My biggest pet peeve is dishonesty, she said.

People who have encountered Croft ' even those who have tangled with her ' describe her as someone who doesn't stray far from the facts.

She has a lot of passion and a lot of perseverance, said Amy Hill, spokesperson for Wal-Mart.

I think she's passionate about what she's doing, but not emotional, said Central Point Mayor Hank Williams.

Williams, who also described her as outspoken and articulate, said people like Croft know that too much emotion can have a negative impact on an issue. She knows that's not going to do any good, he said.

A technical writer with a software company who has a penchant for numbers, Croft dives into issues that would make most people yawn.

I'm a professional nerd, she admitted. I like numbers. I like facts, details.

After she found out about Wal-Mart's plans, she said, I read almost all the Central Point Municipal Code.

After reading the zoning for the proposed Wal-Mart site, she realized, There is just no way. This couldn't happen.

Balancing two careers, two children and a husband and spearheading a campaign against the Supercenter can be tricky. It's one day at a time, she said. Some days it's fliers and meetings, other days, diapers and homework.

With two sets of grandparents who live nearby, Croft said she can call for help if she needs it.

Croft remembered how hectic her schedule had been when the City Council voted on the Wal-Mart proposal.

She had driven down to Reno to help her father at an auction. I drove back and got into town about an hour before the City Council met, she said. The next morning she got up and headed back to Reno.

Her family, while supportive, thought she wasn't going to have much luck blocking the store, which would sit about 1,000 feet from her house.

Others in the community asked her, Why are you bothering? They're the biggest company in the world, she said.

She remembered last June when a family member called to tell her there was an article in the about plans for a Wal-Mart.

Surprised, she began talking to a neighbor about the proposal. It all started right here in my driveway, she said.

Last summer she was overwhelmed, she said, but now there is a core of 30 to 50 people opposed to the project who help out. Altogether, there are more than 1,000 people who have now indicated support for Central Point First, she said.

Croft, who said she isn't intimidated talking in public, has been the frontwoman for the group, speaking to the news media and addressing the City Council or Planning Commission.

At first it was difficult, but she has now learned how to deal with all the attention.

Now I get the three TV stations lined up to come to my house at the same time, she said.

Her activism has resulted in people from all over the country calling for advice on how to deal with Wal-Mart.

I tell them go get a copy of the local ordinance that dictates the zoning and read all of it, she said.

An infrequent Wal-Mart shopper before her campaign, Croft said she never shops at the store now.

Croft is hoping Wal-Mart doesn't appeal the council's decision to the state Land Use Board of Appeals, but she vows to keep on fighting if necessary.

While not discounting the possibility of running for public office in the future, Croft said she looks forward to pursuing other interests, including going to Europe to buy antiques later this year.

I'm looking forward to it being over and done with, she said.
Becca Croft: a closer look

Age: 29.

Residence: Central Point.

Born: Fargo, N.D.; grew up in Eastern Washington.

Husband: David Croft, law enforcement officer, whose family has lived in the area for 30 years.

Children: two, ages — and 5.

Profession: technical writer for a software company, also sells antiques with her father.

Hobbies: I don't have time for hobbies, she said. Before the Wal-Mart issue, however, she did basketweaving and crocheting.

Favorite places to shop: local stores, she said, but I don't enjoy shopping. I don't get any thrill from going to the mall and spending a bunch of money.