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My View: Kerry Tymchuk, executive director of the Oregon Historical Society, asks for continued voter support of the Oregon Historical Society's operating levy.

Kerry TymchukThe Oregon Historical Society preserves our state's history and makes it accessible to everyone in ways that advance knowledge and inspire curiosity about the people, places, and events that have shaped Oregon. The museum, programs, and research library provide a platform to ask questions, make discoveries, and build connections with our neighbors.

Oregon's rich history cannot be contained within a single story or point of view; re-examination and interpretation are necessary as shifts occur within our society and our understanding of our past.

This critical education and preservation work is made possible by the support of Multnomah County taxpayers, who approved an operating levy for the museum and library in 2010 and strongly supported its renewal in 2016.

It's time to renew the five-year Oregon Historical Society levy, ensuring free admission for Multnomah County residents and school groups, direct support for four East County local historical societies, and countless resources for educators and historians. The great news is that we can continue this work at the same property tax rate of $0.05 per $1,000 of assessed value, or about $10 a year for a house with a median assessed value of $200,930.

We are especially proud of our long-standing relationships with the East County institutions, and the levy's support of their work to celebrate East County stories of past and present.

Thanks to the stable operating funding the levy provides, the Gresham Historical Society was able to hire an executive director—who has worked to secure additional grants for the society's work—and remain open to the public five days a week, including weekend hours. The Gresham Historical Society is also developing an exhibit that will highlight Gresham's history of diversity, and showcase how people of all backgrounds made up early Gresham.

The East County Historical Organization (ECHO) continued its mission of preserving and sharing the history of the Fairview, Rockwood and Wilkes areas of East Multnomah County and cared for the historic Heslin House and Zimmerman House.

The Troutdale Historical Society educated visitors at the King of the Roads Exhibit, which marked the centennial of the Columbia River Highway, and continued to gather and preserve material relating to the history of Troutdale, the Sandy River, and the Columbia River Gorge. Levy funds also helped secure grants that supported museum maintenance projects.

The Crown Point Country Historical Society moved forward with the ongoing construction of its exciting new museum in Corbett. This museum will include an "Indigenous People's Path" that will chronicle the lives of the earliest people of this area and will include the oral, pictographic, and petroglyphic histories of indigenous peoples and tribal families.

Renewing the Oregon Historical Society levy will allow us to continue to build exhibits and programs that reflect the diverse histories of our region and engage all parts of our county, support free public lectures and educator workshops, and preserve millions of documents, photographs, and artifacts.

During a year marked by unprecedented events, the Oregon Historical Society has upheld its responsibility to provide context and record these moments for future generations. And we've reaffirmed our commitment to telling Oregon's full history in an open and honest way—the good, the bad, and the ugly—to learn our past but understand our present. That's why this levy is supported by elected officials, educators, historians, and culturally-specific organizations and was endorsed by the Portland Tribune. We hope we've earned your vote too.

Kerry Tymchuk is executive director of the Oregon Historical Society.


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