Our view: Vega Pederson is best to lead Multnomah County
Last May, the Tribune editorial board correctly observed that the most important election for voters concerned about the situation on our streets is that of Multnomah County chair, a position that oversees funding for the Joint Office of Homeless Services.
But the Tribune erred in who voters should vote for. This fall, they should remedy that mistake, and encourage voters to cast their ballots for Jessica Vega Pederson, the only candidate in the race with a proven track record of accomplishment and detailed plans to address housing, homelessness and the behavioral health crisis on our streets.
Jessica has taken on tough issues, and delivered. She spearheaded Preschool for All, a nationally heralded universal preschool program that is enrolling nearly 700 children in free preschool this very month — on time, on budget and as promised. Preschool for All raises wages for workers, supports small mom-and-pop business owners, provides culturally diverse offerings, and takes an enormous financial burden off the backs of families. What's more, Jessica worked with diverse stakeholders, including the Portland Business Alliance, the Democratic Socialists, teachers, school districts and small business owners to craft the measure and get it passed. The effort epitomizes how Jessica works: by bringing people together, tackling the full scope of problems, developing a plan, building trust and consensus, and following through. That's leadership.
And Jessica has a long track record of leading on big issues. She led the charge to phase coal out of our state's energy mix as a state lawmaker, working with energy utilities and environmental advocates to pass legislation that earned her a national award from the Sierra Club. She stood on the floor of the House chamber for five hours successfully extending the state's Clean Fuels program, which reduces carbon emissions in our transportation sector and moves us toward a greener future. She spent eight months working with Foster-Powell residents and small business owners to collaborate on a good neighbor agreement for the new Laurelwood Center, a shelter that has housed more than 1,000 people and seen well over 300 move into permanent housing. The agreement is now a model for other shelters opening throughout our region. She successfully fought to raise the minimum wage, require background checks for firearm transfers, and expand access to reproductive health, which is why she's the only candidate in the race endorsed by Pro Choice Oregon. Her advocacy for pedestrian safety in east Portland earned her an award from Oregon Walks.
What's more, Jessica has robust plans to address the top issues facing our community: homelessness, mental health and addiction services, and gun violence, as well as plans to address our transportation challenges and climate change. She knows how to prioritize, work with others and follow through on her promises. Her candidacy represents well-rounded and seasoned leadership across a spectrum of issue-areas, all of which are important to the future of Multnomah County. She consistently centers the voices of underserved communities, and has worked with broad coalitions to get things done.
That's why she has a list of endorsers that's the envy of any candidate — including Gov. Barbara Roberts, Mother PAC, the Working Families Party, the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, East County Rising, Basic Rights Oregon, more than 40 elected leaders, and a host of community-based organizations.
Many of us are frustrated and angry with the situation on our streets. But anger is common; results and accomplishments are rare. We need more results and more accountability. Jessica Vega Pederson can deliver the change we need, and she deserves your vote for Multnomah County chair.
Rep. Karin Power is a state representative for House District 41, which includes parts of Southeast Portland. Rukiayah Adams is the board chair of the Albina Vision Trust and the former chief investment officer for Meyer Memorial Trust. Matthew Mi eti owns Red Castle Games, a local business in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.
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