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Council Pos. 2 challenger promotes police, mental health in return bid to city.

COURTESY PHOTO: CATHY KEATHLEY - KeathleyA Gresham resident for more than six decades is seeking a return to city leadership to guide her community into the future.

Cathy Keathley, 61, is vying for Council Position 2 against incumbent Eddy Morales and fellow challenger Thomas Stanley. Keathley is no stranger to elected seats — she is already serving on the Gresham-Barlow School Board and is a former Gresham City Councilor. She is also involved with the Gresham Charter Review Committee and is a board member of 100+ Women Who Care East County.

Keathley is the business manager for St. Joseph the Worker Church in Southeast Portland.

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 Keathley's responses, edited for space:

Outlook: Why are you running for council?

Keathley: "I care about Gresham and have spent my life working and volunteering with my neighbors to make it a better place than I found it. The exponential rise in crime and the increase in homelessness we have experienced in the last two years is heartbreaking. With police officers leaving for other agencies and criminals not being held accountable, it will only get worse if we don't do something now."

O: What solutions do you have for public safety?

K: "We need long term stable funding for public safety — both police and fire. Right now, the loss of officers is the priority. It is critical for our safety that we give our officers a reason to stay in Gresham. When criminals know there are no consequences, out of control crime is a result. Adding more mental health teams to assist will allow officers to focus on more critical calls. Most importantly, we need to build relationships, especially between our officers and the community. I will model being open to listening, finding solutions, and making sure every citizen is heard and their opinions respected."

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

K: "It is the number-one concern of our citizens and should be the number-one priority of our city council. I see the impact of crime on every segment of our population. Criminals do not discriminate. It is especially difficult for those who can least afford it."

O: How would you support the business community?

K: "The business community is critical to Gresham's livability. They need to know Gresham wants them here and will work to keep them here. We cannot expect them to shoulder the financial burden the city faces. The city should be partnering with our Chamber of Commerce who supports local businesses."

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

K: "A robust parks system is critical to making Gresham a destination city, and a strong youth recreation program has an impact on reducing crime when kids have a place to be mentored. We need money to do both of these things. Since our priority must be public safety right now, we need to come up with innovative ideas in terms of funding. Partnering with community organizations to develop our parks and building on the youth recreation programs we have is one opportunity."

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

K: "Homelessness affects every community's livability, but homelessness is only a symptom of a bigger problem. We must do a better job of addressing mental illness and addiction. Gresham's current homeless response program works — it is compassionate and firm. The homeless services specialists focus on establishing relationships with empathy and accountability and providing resources to address the specific needs of those in need. I will always support those programs that work for the benefit of our neighbors who are on the streets (that) will also benefit our citizens."

O: What other issues are important to you?

K: "We need to provide an opportunity for our citizen's opinions to be heard. There is a divisiveness today more so than ever before. We have to come together to solve our problems. That starts with the city council. I intend to lead by example to build consensus around those issues that are the biggest concern for our citizens.

O: What sets you apart from the other candidates?

K: "As a mother of three, I have had a front row seat to the challenges many families face. It has also provided me the opportunity to establish strong relationships within the community, founded on trust. I want to use these relationships to make Gresham a better place for all of our citizens."

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