Three candidates are on the ballot this spring to fill the open seat on the Multnomah County Commission. The seat, which represents Southeast Portland, was vacated when Jessica Vega Peterson won the election to Multnomah County Chair last fall. Ana del Rocío, former David Douglas School Board member; Albert Kaufman, board member for neighborhood association Southeast Uplift; and Julia Brim-Edwards, Portland Public School Board member will all join us for a debate in collaboration with Street Roots, Portland’s street newspaper. Ballots are due May 16th.
Note: This transcript was computer generated and edited by a volunteer.
Dave Miller: This is Think Out Loud on OPB. I’m Dave Miller. We start today in front of an audience in downtown Portland with the candidates who are running in a special election for a seat on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. This election is to fill out the seat vacated by Jessica Vega Peterson when she won the race to be county chair. The winner will serve through the end of 2024. We are partnering in this debate with the nonprofit Street Roots and doing this show in front of a group of Street Roots vendors. We’re going to hear questions from some of them as we go.
I’m joined now by the three candidates in this race. Julia Brim-Edwards runs a consulting firm. She’s in her third term as a member of the Portland Public School Board and is a former Nike executive. Ana del Rocío is a former policy adviser to now county chair Vega Peterson, and a former member of the David Douglas School Board. Albert Kaufman is a digital marketing consultant and a board member for the neighborhood association Southeast Uplift. Welcome to all three of you.
Candidates: [overlapping] Thank you, good morning.
Miller: We randomized the selection for the first question, and Ana del Rocío is going to go first. For listeners who aren’t totally familiar with the borders of this district, it is roughly I-84 to the North, Cesar Chavez has a border in the West, the county line in the South, and then somewhere between 122nd and 148th to the East. Ana del Rocío first: what do you see as the most urgent issue facing this particular district? And what do you see as solutions?
Ana del Rocío: We have a set of three truly interlocking crises that have been decades long in the making: housing and homelessness, mental health and addiction, and community safety. Here in District 3, we’ve been facing these issues for quite some time, but we’re seeing them more visibly in other parts of the county as well. The solution is to really make sure we have a regional approach, that we’re building regional solutions to regional problems. That means working across jurisdictions, the county, the city, metro, the states, to build the most innovative policies and the most responsible budgets. It’s also about making sure that any solution is backed by the community. That’s why I’m so proud to have been asked to run by my community. I have the most endorsements of community organizations of any candidate running, because they know I’m accountable to people not profits. At Multnomah County, our social safety net, that’s what has to come first: the people.
Miller: Albert Kaufman, the biggest issue that you see facing this district, and what you see as solutions?
Albert Kaufman: Yes. Thanks for having us today, Dave. First, Happy ‘Day After Tucker Carlson Is Off the Air on Fox News Day.’ I can’t think of anything in my lifetime that I am happier about. I just want to pop champagne corks over and over and over again. That man has poisoned the well of our community and of our world, and I am grateful that Fox finally got around to firing him.
In terms of our area, I think the same issues that trouble Multnomah County and trouble my district are in effect all across our state. We are dealing with a houselessness crisis, we are dealing with drug addiction, we are dealing with too much gun violence, and all of these are exacerbated by climate change. Some of the solutions that I have are outlined on my website, AlbertKaufman.com. One that I’ll just throw out here quickly is I believe that, for those who are addicted to drugs, we should be getting the best grown cannabis in the world into their hands. We have an excess of cannabis in our state. We grow some of the best in the world, and I’ve actually brought some to hand out to the people who are in the audience, and I suggest that we quickly figure out how to get that into the hands of anyone who is doing meth, fentanyl, or heroin.
Miller: Julia Brim-Edwards.
Julia Brim-Edwards: Thank you. I see the issues, the most pressing issues, in District 3 are very similar to issues across the county: homelessness, lack of affordable housing, lack of access to mental health, and also lack of access to drug treatment. In addition, this is particular to District 3, we have some of the areas of the city with the highest level of crime and lack of neighborhood safety. The further east you go in the district, the greater the number of 911 calls, crime, local businesses that are really struggling to get by.
What are the solutions? The good news is the county actually has the ability, but they need to take action. They have the funding and also the responsibility. In terms of mental health and drug treatment, they have funding and they have the responsibility, as the local health authority. In addition, on homelessness, the county absolutely needs to work more closely with the city so that we not only stop people from falling into homelessness, but also to build up a whole range of shelters, so we can help the record number of people living on the streets move to shelter safety, and ultimately to supportive housing. I say, the good news is the county actually has resources, but it needs to move from talking about it to actually having a plan, and actually implementing and taking action.
Miller: We’re going to talk more in depth about a lot of the issues that the three of you just brought up. Let’s stick with homelessness and various efforts that are already under way to address it.
As probably everybody here knows, and many of our listeners, the county partners with the city in a lot of ways in terms of homelessness right now, and has for a number of years. Recently, the mayor proposed implementing six large organized camps for people who are currently unhoused, each camp possibly having up to 250 people. The city council approved close to $30 million to initially implement this plan, and has asked Multnomah County to also fund these camps.
I want to stick with you, Julia Brim-Edwards. Do you support Multnomah County providing funding for these camps? Why or why not?
Brim-Edwards: I do, and I also support the good ideas that chair Vega Peterson has, the ideas that Commissioner Meieran has, because we need a whole host of different solutions and alternatives for people. The mayor has one idea, and I think for too long, we’ve had the county pointing at the city, the city pointing at the county, a sort of a blame game and not taking any action. I do believe that the mayor and the city council want to move people to safety, to provide basic services, ultimately to move people to permanent housing, but it’s just one idea. I can’t think, well, if we just do that, that’s not going to be enough. The county also has to take action, provide more shelter, basic services, and again, with the ultimate goal of providing people a path to supportive housing.
Miller: Albert Kaufman, do you support partnering with the city on this?
Kaufman: I think that we in the community have been thinking too small for too long. I’ve been proposing that we use the closing Walmarts, as an example, and any other big box stores that we can get our hands on, to potentially house thousands of people at a time; versus housing hundreds of people outside, we could be housing thousands of people inside. I recognize that this is a big lift, and I recognize that this is a very challenging concept, but I think that that is part of what we do as leaders in our community, is that we need to think very big about the problems that we have in our midst.
And I think it’s very easy to rag on the current leadership, particularly the city for not doing enough or not doing things correctly, but I know that the way that the current city council is organized makes it impossible to make decisions and to move forward on things, even though you’d expect them to be able to. So I look forward to being part of the commission that will work closely with the city, work closely with Metro, and work closely with other counties, to house people and to bring services to them. I think we’re not doing enough, and look forward to thinking bigger with my comrades.
Miller: Ana del Rocío, your turn.
Del Rocío: I think the county has a responsibility to invest taxpayer dollars in the most wise way possible, in the way that we have, also, the maximum impact on people who are unhoused, people who are directly experiencing housing instability and insecurity. What I know about those proposals is that they are not as research-backed as I would like, to justify investing public dollars. Perhaps at different scales, different sizes, with a different suite of services, but, as written, I think the chair was correct to request a proof of concept, to request evidence that this would work before investing taxpayer dollars.
I also believe that where the county has a role to play is in supplementing the cities, or any other jurisdiction’s ideas, with a strong public health approach. We are the local Public Health Authority. We have to ensure that any housing intervention also comes with mental health services, addiction treatment services, to ensure people can stay housed and stay safe in these environments.
Miller: Let’s take a question from the audience. What’s your name? And then what’s your question?
Audience Member: My name is Joseph White Cloud Smiths, and my question is, do you support the sweeping of unsanctioned camping? Why or why not?
Miller: Albert Kaufman, you can take this first.
Kaufman: I think that, currently, we are in a crisis, and I am one of many people who is watching news reports of people living in front of other people’s houses. I think that most of the people who are listening to this broadcast right now are in their cars, or are in their houses or, potentially, out on the street, and there’s such a discrepancy in our community between the people who are in this room, let’s say, and the people who are listening to this broadcast.
I think that there are certain situations where homeowners and residents of areas have it just very difficult to have someone who is parked out in front of their house, whether it’s in an RV or a tent, and in a situation like that, I think that it really needs to be looked at, and really needs to probably be changed, and I think it’s probably uncomfortable for all parties.
In other situations, there are other variables that need to be looked at, and I think that it’s challenging, sort of each situation needing to be looked at by itself. There is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question, so that is my answer.
Miller: Ana del Rocío.
Del Rocío: I believe that’s a very extreme approach to take. I believe that housing is a human right, and when we think about really what’s undergirding that instinct to sweep everyone off the streets? Well, I think it’s fear. I think that, when you take a look at what people are wanting, they’re wanting safety. People who are housed want to feel safe, people who are unhoused want to feel safe. We all want to feel safe, but sweeping people and moving them into, where exactly? I don’t know where they would want to sweep them to. It doesn’t seem to me to be the approach that will actually be impactful.
When we think about how our bodies and how our communities respond to threats, right, we have fight, flight, freeze. Freeze is what we’re doing when we’re just transferring the problem. We’re saying we don’t want to see it, we want to move it. Pause. That’s actually not, that’s putting a bandaid on a broken leg. We need to actually solve the problem and make sure that housing is available for all.
Miller: Julia Brim-Edwards?
Brim-Edwards: So this is one of the reasons why I’m running for the County Commission, because I think in order to end unauthorized street camping, and the sweeps that lead to it, the county really has to take action, and the lack of action by the city and the county to date has resulted in unauthorizing camping all over the cities, because frankly, there’s not enough shelter, there’s not enough places for people to go. So, in some ways, the county and the city have created situations in which people are camping all over the place because there’s nowhere else to go. There’s no shelter space.
I do believe there are instances … I’m going to just refer to Albert’s comments; I’m on the Portland school board. You have safe routes to schools, when actually you have students or families, people who are walking, having to go into the streets because the sidewalks are blocked. I do believe there’s instances where sweeps should happen. They should happen humanely, and again, the city in the county has an obligation, if there’s a sweep, to provide a place, a safe place with basic services, for people to go, and that hasn’t happened to date. There’s no connection, often, to ‘here’s a place to go,’ just the sweeps happen. There are instances where it does need to occur, but there is an obligation from the city and county to provide a safer place to go, and frankly, voters and community members should be holding elected leaders accountable for that.
Miller: Let’s go to another question from the audience, and this will go to Ana del Rocío first. What’s your name? And what’s your question?
Audience Member: My name is George McCarthy, and I worry a lot about mental illness. So my question is, with the discussion about mental illness, do we have something of a comprehensive plan for people that are experiencing poverty and homelessness?
Del Rocío: Thank you so much for that question. What we know about mental illness is that while we join the country right now in this housing and homelessness crisis, mental illness and addiction have been uniquely our crises in this Pacific Northwest region for some time. We’ve been one of the nationwide hotspots for a long time. So as we think about how to address the treatment need, making sure we address the behavioral health workforce shortage, having enough providers to provide services, we also need to address what is driving this increased number of people experiencing mental illness? What are the unique particularities of our region, environmental, cultural, and social, that are making people sick?
Addiction and mental illness are chronic health conditions, so as the county, it will be our duty to make sure that we are providing robust treatment programs, expanding beyond current status quo delivery. Right now, we have this one to one concept, whereby anyone who wants services gets one provider, they meet one-on-one for therapy or for counseling, and that’s simply not scalable. We cannot have enough people to meet that need, so we have to really diversify how we’re thinking about treatment, to have more group models, to have more prevention models, to really prevent people from getting sick to begin with.
Miller: Julia Brim-Edwards?
Brim-Edwards: Currently, the county doesn’t have a comprehensive plan, which needs to be built, and it needs to be built not in a silo but integrated in with housing, with substance abuse treatment. The very first thing, I think, is we need to have integration. Again, there’s resources that the county has, but also through the metro tax, that provide and would allow us, the county, to build this out, but right now, if you’re living on the streets or you’re in a shelter, you don’t really have access to behavioral health. So starting to integrate it, not just into permanent supportive housing, but also at shelters in a variety of different places, so that everybody has access to inpatient and outpatient care.
In addition, the county has a long-term need for a greater workforce. Frankly, there’s not enough individuals that are either mental health providers or peer support, and so the county has an obligation to be, right now, as it’s providing greater services, also be building up this workforce. If we just provide some services without this, unintegrated, without looking at it as part of the integrated support for people that need it, we’re not gonna be able to adequately serve people. So it’s a whole host of things.
Miller: Albert Kaufman.
Kaufman: Yeah, this is a very challenging question for our community, partly because of the other issues that are pressing on us right now. There’s no wonder that we’re in a behavioral health care crisis in this country, given that we’re all coming out of a pandemic. Congratulations, everyone, for making it mostly out of the COVID pandemic. I think that most of the people that I know that do the kind of work that we’re talking about are kind of at their wits end. They’re burned out, they’re underpaid. The places that people go for help are understaffed or don’t exist. We’re obviously in a state where we really need improvement in this area.
I have been participating for about 31 years in an organization called Re-evaluation Counseling. It is a peer counseling group that has developed a theory that people can use to counsel one another. It’s very effective, it’s very low cost, and it works fantastic. Look at me, I’m an example of this program, and it’s not really a program, it’s more of just a theory of listening to one another and allowing the healing processes that should happen to happen, and give us a chance to cry and laugh and yawn and tell our stories. I’d love to see this tried out on a much wider basis, but for starters, people can check out RC.org if they’re curious about more information.
I also say that what we do as commissioners is we listen to the community. We take in all sorts of input, and I want to warn people in our community about a bill called HB 3414. It’s being rushed through the state legislature right now by our governor, who I’m very excited is our governor, but I have to say that it really takes a shot at all of the regulations in our city and will affect homeless people and housed people equally. We work hard to keep things like trees standing in our community, and this bill, HB 3414, is a shot at everything that we have worked for over the years in Oregon to make this state beautiful. Everyone in the state should be aware of this.
Miller: I wanted to move on because we’ve got a lot to get to. I should note that ballots for this election were supposed to be mailed to Multnomah County voters starting tomorrow, but the county announced yesterday that there was a printing error, and they’re going to be delayed by about a week.
I think now, Julia Brim-Edwards, the question goes to you, and staying with homelessness: the Joint Office of Homeless Services. This was established about seven years ago, as the name implies, as a partnership between the city and the county. Just briefly: is it working? And is there some way you’d want to change it?
Brim-Edwards: Well, I think the statistics show that it’s not working. We have a crisis on our streets. We have more people living on the streets than ever before.
Miller: But is that because of the set-up of this partnership?
Brim-Edwards: It’s a whole host of things. One, it actually hasn’t been treated as a partnership. It’s been much more directed by the county. I think it needs to be much more of a partnership, both blending the funding streams, but again, taking the good ideas that the city of Portland has, and also the county, but also moving to action. So right now, the data shows that it’s not working. We had a record number of people die, by last count, living in the streets: 193 people.
So, to me: what if I’m elected? I will really push that we, not just the mayor and the county chair, but the county commission and the city council, sit down, create a plan, decide what we’re gonna do, figure out the metrics, and how we’re gonna apply the funding, and how we’re going to address the most pressing issue to date.
But literally, it has not been a partner. I mean, it’s not a joint office. It’s been very much driven by the county, and very much driven by the chair, but not this joint thing. I say we’re at a time where we need to take everybody’s good ideas, not just one entity’s.
Miller: Albert Kauffman? And if I can have all of you try to shorten your answers so we can get to a lot more stuff in the next 18 minutes.
Kaufman: Sure. I think I mirror what Julia has just said; it looks to me like that office has not been functioning as well as it could. I do think that part of it is the way that it’s not sharing power, and probably input, with the city. There are a number of areas where our cities, counties, and metro are not working closely together. If I’m elected commissioner, I would be part of a more collaborative effort in that respect.
Miller: Ana del Rocío.
Del Rocío: The joint office, I believe, has yet to be fully realized, the way it was envisioned. We have a new leader in the joint office. I will be really looking to that individual to let us know what the plan is to improve the outcomes. We have not seen strong outcomes, as my opponents have noted, thus far. I do think that it is a great idea to be giving a little bit more time to.
I wouldn’t give that much more time, because my leadership style is, I’m a trailblazer, and I get things done when they’re not working. I actually first ran for office to solve a problem in my neighborhood and lack of healthcare access, and one of the first things I did was make sure that our local public schools had more expanded service availability for health care. I spearheaded the first racial justice initiative at the board level in the majority minority school district of East Portland. So I have a track record of bringing other elected leaders along to get things done, which is what we’re going to need in this position for this county.
Miller: Ana del Rocío, sticking with you, I want to turn to public safety, and gun violence in particular. As I think all of our listeners know, in recent years, there’s been a record number of homicides in Portland and in the county. The board has invested in gun violence intervention and prevention efforts as a response. What do you think of the current efforts? And would you push to change them in any way?
Del Rocío: I absolutely believe that gun violence is a public health issue, and it’s interlinked with the need to consider what the drivers are of violence. When we look at societies with low rates of violence, gun violence, and property crimes, what do we also see? Robust health care systems, dignified, humane living conditions, material needs provided for, that is what correlates with the peaceful, violence-free society. We don’t have that yet. So treating the symptom, again, is not going to get to what’s underneath: why people are experiencing violence?
What I would do as a county commissioner is build on my lengthy track record of improving our justice system. My 10 years serving as a county official precedes that of any sitting county commissioner, including the chair. I’ve been working since 2014 in county efforts, and I actually won an award from prior county chair Deborah Kafoury, for my work preserving and expanding youth violence prevention programs. That’s how important it is to me to build prevention into everything that we do.
Most recently, in my role as co-chair of the Multnomah County Charter Review Committee, we presented a ballot measure to voters that they overwhelmingly adopted to build in more accountability and transparency in our justice system, specifically in the Multnomah County jail system. So I am looking at public safety holistically. I’m looking at it across the board. I’m looking at prevention. I’m looking at equity. This is an issue that, again, in District 3, we’ve been raising for some time, and what we need to do is start listening to people who are directly impacted, and believing in them when they tell us these are their crises. That’s why I’m so proud to be the community-backed candidate, and that’s what I’ll bring to the table.
Miller: Julia Brim-Edwards, what do you think of the county’s current gun violence prevention strategies? And would you change them in any way?
Brim-Edwards: Well, again, look at the data. Between the city and the county, we’ve had record years, and I’ll say, as a parent of three, as somebody who serves on the school board, this past year, in my 50 years of living in Portland, I’ve never seen more gun violence around our schools. We had several shootings outside of Franklin, and then also one at Cleveland, both high schools that serve Southeast Portland and the district. Clearly, it’s the gun violence from the community that’s coming into our school communities.
So a couple of things: one, we need to give the district attorney and also the sheriff the resources they need in order to combat it. But also, we can’t arrest our way out of gun violence necessarily, so the other critical piece, in addition to providing additional resources to the DA and the Sheriff’s Office, is investing in proven programs. The city has invested in this. For example, Rosemary Anderson and POIC run a group of community safety teams. Literally, they are people when gun violence starts in the community, they go to the hospitals to interrupt the cycle of violence that’s happening.
You get retaliatory gun violence, so you have one incident of gun incidents, and then there’s retaliation. Investing in resources of individuals who are trusted, who are peer supports, who can go and talk to families and other gang members, sometimes, and talk to them about why it’s important to stop this cycle of violence, those are really important investments. Again, in addition to investing in the public safety system of the city.
Miller: Albert Kaufman?
Kaufman: One, this is a message to the Oregon legislature. Please pass the assault weapon ban just as written by Washington State. That will go a long way to improving our communities. Two, if I was elected commissioner, I would call for a close to all gun shows. Period. Three, I would close gun shops in our city and county. Four, I believe we need a very robust gun buyback program that everybody knows about, and the county spends lots of money promoting in our communities. I think some of the problem that we’re having is guns, and we are not going to make any progress until we get them out of people’s hands, and that is my point there.
Miller: Let’s take some more questions from our audience. What’s your name? And what’s your question?
Audience Member: My name is Jeremiah Leget, and my question is: are you committed to opening up safe injection sites here in Multnomah County?
Miller: Albert Kaufman, you get this first.
Miller: OK, Julia Brim-Edwards.
Brim-Edwards: No, I’d need more … I think what we found with Ballot Measure 110 is we need to think about implementation, and what some of the unintended consequences are. So just, without seeing a plan and what the consequences are, I say, I think most people thought Ballot Measure 110 would result in actually individuals getting treatment. That was the whole goal, I think, of decriminalization, and it hasn’t happened. I’d want to see a lot more data, a thorough plan, and look at what the unintended consequences might be before I would make any sort of commitments.
Miller: Ana del Rocío.
Del Rocío: Ballot Measure 110 passed because voters believe that criminalization is not working, and harm reduction needs to be an approach that we use to save lives. Decriminalization, again, has not been realized to its full potential, because we absolutely need more treatment beds, we need more robust treatment period. In the meantime, we have a responsibility to save lives. So yes, I support harm reduction efforts like the one that you mentioned.
I also support really building out the availability of Naloxone, training individuals who are in public spaces on how to use Naloxone, really listening to the folks who are experts in addiction treatment and in substance abuse and recovery. It’s so important that we again view this as a public health issue. Addiction is a chronic health issue for the county, and we have to address it humanely. We have to look at what’s causing it. We have to save lives.
Miller: Julia Brim-Edwards, you get the next question from our audience member. What’s your name? And what’s your question?
Audience Member: Hi, my name is Bronwyn Carver, and as we’re still in the rainy season though, you wouldn’t know it by today, many are left without shelter as the city has prohibited service agencies like Portland Street Response from handing out tents. As there’s still no housing or shelter beds available, what can you add in your role as a county commissioner to the programs that distribute tents to those in need of shelter?
Brim-Edwards: Thanks for that question. I’m going to go back to the fact that the county and the city have an obligation to provide shelter, so you can’t move people off the streets, and shouldn’t, and I believe the county is still distributing tents, but you can’t do that if you don’t have a place to move someone to. I’m a native Oregonian, so I totally appreciate the question about the rain and having shelter, and I would hope that if I’m a county commissioner, this community would hold me accountable for people having a safe and dry place to be. I believe that it’s better than a tent, because a tent doesn’t even have basic services.
Miller: Albert Kaufman.
Kaufman: The issue that you raised is one decision that was really made by one person, one of our newest city council members, and I think it’s the wrong decision, and I think it really behooves him to actually change his mind on this. There should be constant pressure on the city council to reverse this decision. Handing out tents to people who need them is just … we were just in the church on Sunday, so I’m just gonna say, Christian. What would Jesus do? The fact that that is not happening right now is, in Yiddish, the word is Shanda, which means, well, you can look it up, but it’s basically a mistake, and it’s a bad mistake. If I was part of the County Commission, I would definitely be giving people shelter to protect them from the elements, and that’s what I have to say.
Miller: Ana del Rocío.
Del Rocío: Shelter is an important part of addressing what we need on the housing continuum, and really making sure that we’re addressing the human element of the crisis on our streets is essential, too. I was dismayed, similarly, to learn that the tents were no longer being distributed, because I think that that’s a way that we’re harming people’s lives.
There are immediate improvements that we can make to our system right now, that consist of structures, not tents, to improve. For example, what I’m learning from shelter providers is that people don’t always feel welcome or included in spaces that don’t make room for gender diversity, for different family sizes, for pets or support animals. There are very simple ways that we can improve access to shelters now. Also, we must pair shelter improvement and immediate relief for unhoused folks with permanent supportive housing and preventing the need for a tent or immediate shelter to begin with, by investing in displacement prevention.
For example, I’m a renter. I just received a rent increase notice of $209. I live in a two bedroom apartment with my two kids. I’ll figure it out. I always figure it out. But we know that families facing those kinds of hikes in their rent, spikes in their rent, that can be one step between them and being unhoused and needing immediate help. We need to make sure that we’re providing supports and protections for tenants, people facing eviction, people facing foreclosure, to prevent this need to begin with. No one should need a tent. We should have housing for everyone.
Miller: We have time for one more question from the audience. Go ahead.
Audience Member: My name is Courtney Varner and, in my opinion, we need more housing case managers. I was homeless for 10 years, and I went through all the resources possible to obtain housing and I finally obtained housing, but it took years, 10 years to be exact. My question is, because of people that have been homeless, we know the resources and stuff it takes to, like, once you get housing, to retain it: do you support people that have been homeless previously being trained for housing case managers?
Miller: If we can go briefly through the three of you, Julia Brim-Edwards first?
Brim-Edwards: Absolutely. So I did a ride along with Portland Street Response, and over the course of the four or five hours, the answer that I heard, and the stories I heard, and from talking to people also who’ve been on the streets, is that is probably the most important connection to start with, because somebody else who has that same lived experience is trusted, and not just a one time, because that person knows it’s not just a one time, outreach that’s needed, it may be needed over a sustained period of time. So, absolutely, I think that’s part of the system that should be with a whole range of peer support, but also mental health providers, people who have expertise in housing, treatment options, so that we have this whole spectrum. But definitely starting with peer supports as well.
Miller: Ana del Rocío.
Del Rocío: I agree. I also went on a ride along with Teamsters Paramedics, that came in towards Street Roots early on in my campaign, as well because it’s so important for me to hear what’s working. That peer support is one example of what can work. I was really encouraged by stories of how folks who were unhoused and became housed, and came back, and they were just a radiantly different person, because surprise! Housing actually works to really uplift people’s basic safety, and security, and health, and vibrancy. Being able to reach that and then give back, oh my goodness. What a gift to your community. Really, what a gift, showing the power of peer support and just community empowerment in general.
Again, I wanna emphasize that I’m the candidate with the most community endorsements from the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Vote Pro-Choice, Joint Council of Teamsters, all the community-based organizations serving People of Color, because they know that I believe in that community empowerment, community for community with community.
Miller: Albert Kaufman.
Kaufman: Should someone who’s been houseless be welcomed as a case manager? Absolutely. I also haven’t had a chance to mention it, but I do think that we should seriously consider shutting down Airbnb for the time being, given that we are in a housing crisis. There are precedents for this, and I think there should be something that’s considered by our community.
Miller: We have just about two minutes left total. We’ve talked a lot about public safety and housing and homelessness. Alber Kaufman first: what is an issue that you think is not getting enough coverage in this race?
Kaufman: Sure. I have been working with a group of people to ban gas-powered lawn equipment for the last six years. We had statewide legislation to get gas-powered leaf blowers and trimmers and edgers and lawn mowers out of people’s hands and get them to switch over to electric. Our air pollution in our community is just a terror. It is taking years off of everyone’s life. Our air in this state is some of the poorest in the country.
Miller: I’m gonna cut you off just because we have to have time for everybody else. Ana del Rocío?
Del Rocío: Child care and working parents. I think that, as a Woman of Color and Mother of Color myself, even before the pandemic, put child care on national headlines. I was working here, locally, on the front lines of the child care movement. We did a film called ‘Mother of Color’ to get this issue really out there in the public. I co-convened the Child Care Project. We have a pilot program in Multnomah County called Multnomah Mother’s Trust, which I would look to expand because that’s how important it is to invest in the parents in our community.
Miller: And Julia Brim-Edwards.
Brim-Edwards: You asked about gun violence, but I think the issue is much deeper, of neighborhood safety. If you look at the crime statistics across the city, repeat property offenders, and also local small businesses that are having their businesses vandalized and repeatedly burglarized, they’re really struggling. Again, you look at the statistics, and it’s especially true in District 3 as you move east. A lot more attention needs to be paid for that. This, again, as the city and county have an obligation, working together, to make our neighborhood safer, to allow our local businesses to be able to operate and provide services to their local communities.
Miller: Candidates for Multnomah County Commission, Julia Brim-Edwards, Albert Kaufman, and Ana del Rocío, thanks very much.
Candidates [in unison]: Thank you.
Contact “Think Out Loud®”
If you’d like to comment on any of the topics in this show or suggest a topic of your own, please get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can leave a voicemail for us at 503-293-1983. The call-in phone number during the noon hour is 888-665-5865.