Candidates for election to the Milwaukie City Council are joining the chants of Black Lives Matter in their campaigns on the Nov. 3 ballot to replace Wilda Parks, who is stepping down as an elected official.
Desi Nicodemus is hoping to break barriers and become the first Black man ever elected to serve on the City Council. As a teacher in the North Clackamas School District, he helped set up affinity groups to fight for proportional representation, since about 98% of the district's roughly 1,000 teachers were white, compared to its approximately 36-40% students of color.
Increased diversity also is a big part of the campaign for Adam Khosroabadi, born in Los Angeles to a Persian father and Italian mother; Khosroabadi recently graduated from Portland State University, proposed marriage to a "proud Latina" and displays a Black Lives So Matter poster on his website.
"We must become better listeners and hear the voices of our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community in order to learn and understand the difficulties they have faced so we can all help create a more just and equitable society for us and our future generations to live in," he said.
A third candidate in the race, Jon Stoll, has been a member of the Milwaukie Budget Committee since 2011 and believes that the city's utility rates are too high. Stoll criticizes Milwaukie for continuing to plan to fund most of its capital expenditures from current revenues, rather than use debt financing for long-term assets.
"Due to staffing concerns and the current construction market, the city has had difficulties completing their utility capital programs in a timely manner," Stoll said. "Currently, they are sitting on large cash reserve balances in these utility funds."
A fourth candidate in the race for Parks' seat, former Republican congressional candidate Rob Reynolds, failed to submit his Voters' Pamphlet statement on time, making his election unlikely. Also failing to submit a statement on time was Karin Parsons, a PSU student and chair of the College Republicans group, who is running against incumbent City Councilor Angel Falconer.
Nicodemus, a member of the Milwaukie Construction Excise Tax Oversight Group, decided to run for City Council to make sure that government is "truly representative of everyone" who lives in Milwaukie.
"We need to pay particular attention to equity as it plays into affordable housing, climate change and its impacts, and the COVID-19 pandemic," Nicodemus said. "I want to make sure that our BIPOC community has a voice and a seat at the table so that city decisions benefit our communities of color, too, not burden them."
Khosroabadi, who currently serves on the Public Safety Advisory Committee, says he is running for this council position to provide leadership to guide the city through the current hardships of COVID-19 and beyond.
"Community engagement, affordable housing, public safety and transportation, climate and environment, small business, budget," he said. "These are six critical areas I feel our city needs to address the most."
Stoll emphasizes his financial experience, having retired from a career in banking and as an analyst for the Bonneville Power Administration.
"Milwaukie faces a number of challenges in the near future," he said. "We need to focus on our city's primary tasks: public safety, maintaining our current infrastructure and always listening to our fellow citizens."
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