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East County commissioner to focus on housing, support for small business in bid for top seat.

COURTESY PHOTO: LORI STEGMANN - Commissioner Lori StegmannEast Multnomah County's representative on the County Commission is eyeing the top seat in the upcoming election.

Commissioner Lori Stegmann, District 4, announced her candidacy for county chair Monday afternoon, Oct. 4, after mulling the decision in the wake of Chair Deborah Kafoury being unable to run for reelection with term limit restrictions.

"Let's face it, we've been through hell this past year and a half … and every challenge we had before the pandemic has only been exacerbated," Stegmann said. "As the commissioner from East Multnomah County I have championed and guided many of our efforts to provide critical support during this pandemic — but we can and must do more."

Stegmann said her focus is on supporting the homeless community, providing rental assistance to keep people housed, and expanding support for small businesses.

"As the only commissioner from outside of Portland, I have a different and broader perspective that is much needed now, as we tackle some of the toughest challenges our county and our region has faced in our lifetime," Stegmann said.

She was first elected to the county board in 2016 after serving as a Gresham city councilor for six years, serving an area that encompasses Gresham, Fairview, Troutdale, Wood Village and the unincorporated areas of the Columbia River Gorge. She has been a small business owner in Rockwood for nearly three decades, and also led the county's 2020 Census Complete Count efforts.

Stegmann said her lived experience as an immigrant, woman of color and someone who grew up with housing and food insecurity helps her understand what many across the community face.

"We all know what the problems are, our challenge and our responsibility is to implement solutions quickly, effectively and justly," Stegmann said.

Stegmann said she would use a triple lens of economic, social and environmental justice when making decisions about how to spend money as a commission.

Other candidates include commissioners Jessica Vega Pederson and Sharon Meieran, who previously announced. Only Commissioner Susheela Jayapal is the only commissioner not running at this time.

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