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Council Pos. 2 incumbent advocates for public safety funds, youth opportunities.

COURTESY PHOTO: EDDY MORALES - MoralesA community advocate with more than 20 years of experience is seeking reelection against a pair of challengers.

Gresham Council President Eddy Morales, 42, will attempt to reclaim Position 2 in the upcoming general election against challengers Cathy Keathley and Thomas Stanley. He was first elected to the role in 2018, and lost a narrow race for mayor in 2020.

He started Morales Public Relations after moving back to Gresham with his husband, and also is active on the political scene — the Democratic Party of Oregon, Planned Parenthood of Columbia Willamette, and founder of East County Rising.

The Outlook reached out to all of the candidates running in the November general election, and more Q&As will be shared in the coming weeks. Here are Morales' responses, edited for space:

Outlook: Why are you running for council?

Morales: "I am working to build a stronger, more secure, and inclusive Gresham. By prioritizing getting more community members involved in decision making we were able to direct programs and funding to tackle the tough challenges we faced in the last several years. We are working tirelessly toward building a resilient city where we can all live, work and play. We need to stay focused and by re-electing me we can ensure this work is followed through to fruition."

O: What solutions do you have for public safety?

M: "I have been working on community safety since (the) Gresham Police Activity League in the 1990s focusing on tackling the immediate needs of our community as well as the root causes of crime. In the last two years (…) Gresham has invested an unprecedented $5.2 million in the police department; analyzed crime data to focus on reduction; funded a first-of-its-kind Youth Violence Prevention Program; partnered with community-based organizations to address the root causes of crime. I am fighting for a healthy city where all people have opportunity and hope."

O: How concerned are you with historic levels of crime?

M: "I know what it's like to lose close family members to senseless gun violence and too not be able to feel safe in your neighborhood — I have lost two brothers to gun violence. We have a serious revenue problem in Gresham, our tax base is smaller than comparably sized cities like Hillsboro or Beaverton. We need to be comprehensive and collaborative about how we approach community safety."

O: How would you support the business community?

M: "Many of our businesses are locally owned and invested in creating a place where their employees and customers thrive. As a small business owner, I have faced the challenges of running a small business, including hiring and retaining employees, making payroll, and gaining and maintaining access to capital."

O: Do you have ideas to bolster youth recreation and parks?

M: "My vision is to create a park and recreation district in Gresham to provide (more) in every part of the city. We know investing in parks raises property values — park districts pay for themselves. Youth recreation is also doubly important with the current need for public safety. A robust parks system creates healthy and safe communities by providing recreation and gathering spaces, calming green spaces, educational opportunities, and even family food production through community garden spaces."

O: What needs to be done around homelessness and community livability?

M: "I led the effort to capitalize on millions of dollars of funding for housing from the voter-approved Metro housing bond. When the bond passed in 2018 existing Gresham city leadership was refusing to take any of the money allocated to Gresham. We changed that. We need to work urgently to put the rest of those funds to good use and build more housing for our families, including home ownership, to prevent displacement and help build generational wealth in our community. (So) long as rent and single-family homes remain unaffordable, there will be an unhoused and at-risk population in Gresham."

O: What other issues are important to you?

M: "I have led good governance initiatives to make City Hall more accessible and transparent in its work. A charter review committee has been appointed and will be addressing suggestions, including an independently elected auditor, geographic zones for city-elected positions, and term limits. We cannot effectively solve problems for a diverse community without all perspectives at the table."

O: What sets you apart from the other candidates?

M: "I was the first in my family to graduate high school and attend college where I began to hone the leadership and community organizing skills that I learned as a teenager out of necessity. For the last four years I have brought my lived experience, skills, and drive to the Gresham City Council to build a stronger, more secure community for us all. Today, I am the most experienced candidate to meet the needs of our growing city and lead our council."

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