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The first Mexican American elected to the regional government stood up to racist Facebook messages last year.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Metro Councilor Juan Carlos GonzalezMetro Councilor Juan Carlos González, the first Mexican American to be elected to the regional government, has been appointed deputy council president.

Metro is a regional government providing a wide array of services for the three-county region around Portland, ranging from solid waste disposal, to the Oregon Zoo, to the urban growth boundary.

González is the son of Mexican immigrants who was born and raised in Washington County, where his Metro district is located.

González made news in July 2019 when he responded to racist messages on his Metro Facebook page accusing him of being an illegal alien who should "hit the road," despite him being a native-born American citizen.

"I ask that we all stand for one another. We are fighting for the soul of this country. We need each other. And I have faith we can be the Oregon and the America that has been promised to us," González told the Pamplin Media Group at the time.

González announced his appointment to the Metro Council post on Monday, Jan. 6.

"I am honored to share that this year I will serve as the Metro Deputy Council President alongside Metro Council President Lynn Peterson. I thank President Peterson tremendously for believing in me and giving me this opportunity to grow my leadership and deepen my ability to serve Oregon. I am also very grateful for my peers on Council that welcome me in this new role," he wrote.

"Metro has had its hands full these last two years with massive investments towards our region's livability," he added. "In 2018 we passed a historic $652.8 million Affordable Housing bond and we're making significant progress in implementation. In 2019 we passed a $475 million Parks and Nature bond renewal to continue our region's legacy to open space, conservation and climate resilience. In 2020, we're looking to refer a multi-billion dollar transportation measure that addresses corridors with the highest safety, congestion and climate needs in our region.

"There is much more, too, in the background, as we craft policy frameworks to address climate change, the next 50 years of our land use system, equitable economic growth and many other key issues that demand our attention."

The racist messages last summer appeared after the elected regional government posted a video denouncing the Trump administration's proposed new rules restricting access to public housing to undocumented immigrants and transgender people. The video was made jointly by Metro, the Oregon governor's office, the city of Portland, and Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.

González shared a screenshot of the postings on social media. "I shared the content so that our constituents in the region could see that rhetoric at the national level impacts how we treat one another throughout the state," González said.

González was born in Forest Grove, grew up in Cornelius, and lives in Hillsboro. After graduating from Georgetown University with a degree in economics, he returned to Washington County to work at Centro Cultural, a Cornelius-based nonprofit organization and community center.

In 2018, González was elected to District 4 on the Metro Council, the regional government post representing northern and western Washington County.

You can read a previous Pamplin Media Group story on the issue here.

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