Opinion: Oregon City voters see shift on homelessness issue
Oregon City's mayoral election results on March 9 came as a surprise to many, including me. I felt like I fell so far short of my goal that it spoke to my weakness as a candidate.
In reality, I was running to be the 10th youngest mayor in American history of a town with more than 30,000 people. In a town where I had no name recognition. Where I also submitted an overall pretty bad Voters' Pamphlet statement. And yet, we got nearly 1,000 votes in a five-person low-turnout race with an incumbent commissioner, a man who has lived here his whole life, and a man with business and military experience. And we had to earn every single one of these votes in the span of a few short months. That is something to be proud of.
Not only that, but we activated young people in Oregon City. We had multiple volunteers from OCHS and Clackamas Community College. We had over 50 volunteers by the end of the campaign writing postcards and showing up to sign-waving events. And a local young Latina community leader reached out and said I inspired her to run in the future. This race may have had abysmally low voter-turnout; but we activated people to come out, show up and care about local politics.
On top of that, we shifted the topic of conversation. I made solving homelessness the key issue of my campaign. By the final forum, every single candidate spoke about it being their #1 or #2 issue. That wasn't coincidence; it was a glimpse of how politics works. Oregon City now recognizes solving homelessness is not an issue that can wait. And their lives cannot be put on the back burner any longer.
Major congratulations to Rachel for her impressive showing, complete respect for Damon being such a kind and grounded candidate, and kudos to Leslie for putting himself out there in the pursuit of helping others.
I initially felt like all that effort I put in was wasted. But it wasn't. Not only has homelessness become a key issue, but there is now an open seat on the City Commission.
And I'm going to go for it.
Alex Josephy, one of five candidates for Oregon City mayor, now plans to apply for appointment to the open City Commission seat.
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