OPINION: Kathryn Harrington is doing a great job for county
When Kathryn Harrington won the opportunity to lead our county in 2018, she had no idea of the new, unexpected challenges we would all face. Neither did I. COVID came out of nowhere and disrupted pretty much everything.
But what we did know was this: When push comes to shove, Kathryn shows up for the people, the communities, the issues that are important to all of us. And everyone in Washington County is important to Kathryn. With her leadership, the Board brought in new executive management, something I can say from my Beaverton experience is a crucial element of positive culture change. With her leadership, the county quickly reinforced a public health program that had languished, under-funded by previous administrations, so the county could respond to COVID in force.
The results are clear — we have one of the best vaccination rates in the state, and one of the lowest per-capita case rates. As Beaverton's mayor, I've seen first-hand how Washington County's cities have been able to count on Kathryn. She made sure the board directed federal COVID relief money to everyone who needed it most, including in our cities, using equity as a major factor in deciding how to allocate the money. We are working with Kathryn and the county to establish a true shelter, with services from the county, for people experiencing homelessness in and near Beaverton. I was excited that Kathryn led her board to adopt the county's first-ever equity resolution, to create and staff an equity office, and work with the community to draft the first equity charter.
And she has led on many programs designed to help those in our community with the great needs, including in our cities: business recovery centers, small business grants, food service assistance, workforce training, rent and utility assistance, and mental health and community psyche grants. Plus more safe, affordable childcare for our working families, improvements in transportation, and hard work to address climate change. When Kathryn started in January 2019, the county government was stagnant, operating under old ideas and principles, not reflective of today's population and today's community needs. Standing up and creating change is never easy — those who benefit from the status quo work hard to stop us. That's why those of us pushing to bring positive change to Washington County and to our cities have to stand up, roll up our sleeves, and get to work creating that positive change. Kathryn has listened and delivered when we've needed her, and I am proud of the work she has done, and that we've done together.
Kathryn has put people first, not politics. That may be unpopular to those looking backward as Washington County moves forward, but I support that approach 100%. There is no more dedicated public servant to lead our county than Kathryn Harrington.
Lacey Beaty is mayor of Beaverton.
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