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Portland State University student shares novel ideas about helping the homeless

This is the first in a series of profiles for the candidates vying for Council Position 4

OUTLOOK PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Antonio MedelAntonio Medel is a very busy person — but he wouldn't have it any other way.

The 21-year-old is balancing studying architecture at Portland State University with running errands and tasks for his dad's contracting business. Even though his schedule is full, Medel has decided he wants to take a more active role in the community he grew up in.

He is running for Gresham City Council Position 4, beginning his first-ever political campaign. Medel met with The Outlook to talk about the upcoming election:

THE OUTLOOK: Why are you running for council?

ANTONIO MEDEL: It started as a joke back in school. In this one class, my first political science class at Portland Community College, we were doing debates, and I fell in love with it. I love debating and talking about current events. You have to like it, and if you don't it's going to be hard to stay interested in the topic. But I am interested in serving on council.

OUTLOOK: What issues are you focused on?

MEDEL: I grew up in this area, in Gresham, and I went to school at Reynolds. Education at Reynolds from what I hear from other students is still the same, which is pretty upsetting. When they talk about progress — yes, (the schools) are getting remodeled, but the grades are the same if not worse. Oregon is low for education, so that would be a focus.

I want to make more community events focused on our diversity, to remind people we are a community. I would also like to focus on cleaning up Gresham — people's attitude, the trash on the ground, points of view on touchy subjects such as the homelessness issue. I remember growing up and you would rarely hear about homelessness. Now it is a problem. I see the homeless all the time, and it makes me really sad. That is no way for anyone to live. Gresham is a very large city, and I know we can help, why not do it?

OUTLOOK: How would you deal with homelessness?

MEDEL: In school, we have done projects based on this issue a lot. Bring shower busses around, have city buy buildings that are abandoned, fix them up, and make them health centers. The ideas are all out there and people want to do them, but they aren't getting done.

I know people that pay $2,000 plus a month for three bedroom apartments in Gresham. All these meetings are going on, but residents and citizens aren't invited. Everyone should start going to these meetings and learn about the housing issues, as it ties into the homelessness issue.

OUTLOOK: How would you change how the city functions?

MEDEL: I would make city information more public on meetings, gatherings and information that is going on throughout the system — have it distributed to our citizens in a way that is effective and informative.

OUTLOOK: Why should people vote for you?

MEDEL: I have experience, true love, and true peace. I want everyone else to feel that. I felt that here in Gresham, which makes it a very special place.

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