Susheela Jayapal is the only Multnomah County Commissioner not running for chair of that elected body, and we're glad. To do so would mean giving up her seat, and Jayapal has served her North/Northeast Portland District 2 — and the rest of the county — well over the past four years.
Jayapal, who has been heavily involved in local school and community groups, focused her 2018 campaign on addressing the large number of low-income residents being displaced from the district. The pandemic allowed her to channel that passion into implementation of Metro's affordable housing bond, which she had helped shape and pass, as well as the county's first rent assistance program.
Jayapal, who was born in India, brought an equity lens to her work, pressing state and regional agencies for data showing the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, convening meetings in her district to respond to the rising gun violence and trauma and pushing for a dedicated county office to help immigrants and refugees.
Jayapal has a couple of challengers.
Derry Jackson is trying to show that Fitzgerald was wrong, and that there are second acts in American political lives. The former Portland Public School board member had some dust-ups in his personal and political life before leaving office and relocating out of state. He returned to Portland a year ago and looked for a way to get back into public service.
We applaud Jackson's passion for home ownership and his dream of brining a Navy shipyard to the Rose City, but he failed to make a convincing case that Jayapal should not continue her good work on the commission. Elizabeth Taylor, a former legislative aide, did not respond to our survey so we did not have the chance to interview her.
When we endorsed Jayapal four years ago for the District 2 seat we sensed this political newcomer would be a fast learner. She proved us right and deserves your vote on May 17.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.