1. East Portland is home to 25% of the city’s population, yet has historically been allocated a smaller share of city resources than other areas of town. How will you support equity for East Portland in city investments in transportation, parks, housing and economic development?
I will listen, learn and partner with East Portland community leaders who are committed to centering the highest needs of the city, specifically for economic and community development. I’ll focus on 0pportunities that bring jobs, livability, and safety to East Portland neighborhoods. With that development, I will also ensure that benefits go to residents, local small businesses, and I’ll collaborate with community-based activists to make sure it occurs without displacement. We need community benefit agreements that stipulate jobs for any development stay in the East Portland community. It’s critical to lean on solutions coming from the community, and that means we also need to build the capacity of nonprofits in the area like Hacienda, Latino Network, Rosewood Initiative, and Boys and Girls Club, so they can continue to have the resources they need to provide essential services to East Portland.
To start, I would focus on one or two specific initiatives that are most important for outer East Portland like sidewalks, small business development, safe routes to school and work, and I would advocate in the budget for these projects with assigned bureaus.
We need to actually do what we say we will do, and invest in East Portland. Longer term, we need to change our form of government and have elected officials who are accountable to their districts, including a few districts in East Portland. We cannot keep ignoring East Portland in our funding and planning decisions, and that requires representation on City Council.
2. East Portland lags behind the rest of the city in personal incomes and job opportunities. What will you do to increase the number of family-wage jobs in East Portland?
We must transition to a clean energy economy – with that comes family- wage jobs that cannot be outsourced and a just transition that puts the power in the hands of workers in East Portland. Weatherization, sales, technology, manufacturing, construction, and support jobs are just a few examples of clean energy jobs that can be located anywhere–why not make East Portland the green job center?
When I was Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Hales, we invested in the Neighborhood Prosperity Initiatives (NPIs) of East Portland including Rosewood Initiative, Jade District, Division Midway Alliance and Historic Rosewood. Through the PDC (Prosper Portland) we developed a shared goal of ensuring shared prosperity throughout the city, and worked in partnership with EPAP to meet the economic opportunities and goals set forth in the plan. I know how crucial these partnerships are to making sure we adequately prioritize investment in East Portland, and I would continue to build on them to support economic development.
In Mayor Hales’s office, I advocated and fought for East Portland every budget session. We invested in revitalizing the Lents town center, supported development of the Asian Heath and Service Center, added affordable housing units, invested in Jade District’s night market, and made the SE Community Center accessible to Youth by enabling free entry and youth and culturally specific programming. We brought the State of the City to East Portland, through the Rosewood Initiative. I have a proven track record of advocating for East Portland, and as your City Commissioner I would continue to push for more solutions for East Portland.
3. Portland is experiencing a severe housing crisis, and East Portland residents are particularly vulnerable to displacement. What tools will you implement to prevent involuntary displacement of low-income people from East Portland?
With the current COVID crisis, we need to make sure families don’t end up pushed out of their homes due to their inability to pay rent or their mortgage. I will continue to fight to extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through 2020 and make sure there is a fund to help people keep a roof over their head. I know firsthand that once the rent or mortgage payments back up many families will never be able to pay that off. We need to reduce barriers to build units faster, too, to make sure we are increasing our affordable and permanent housing stock.
Strengthening our anti-displacement policies is another critical thing we must do to address our housing crisis, and ensure that families aren’t pushed out of the City. We know that displacement disproportionately impacts communities of color, and we need to do everything we can as a City government to make sure people can stay in their homes, and stay housed. This includes, certainly, pathways to home ownership, particularly for communities of color, which is an important way to build generational wealth in communities that have experienced redlining and systemic racism.
There are also many poorly maintained apartments that need to be weatherized to avoid exorbitant utility bills, updated and ensure they meet safety and health standards. A few years ago, I had to move my own family from our rental because of lead exposure, so I understand how expensive and scary this can be. We need to address the problem of zombie homes in East Portland, too.
Ensuring homes are safe and liveable was a priority while I worked in Mayor Hales’ office and will continue to be a priority when I’m City Commissioner. Having stable, safe housing is critical for Portlanders to thrive.
4. What is your strategy to bring East Portland’s street infrastructure up to the standard of the rest of the city?
I am fully committed to investing in East Portland so that street infrastructure is at parity with the rest of the city. East Portland has been disinvested in for too long. I support the East Portland Action Plan that prioritizes projects focused on pedestrian and bike safety, especially when crossing major roadways, connecting residents to transit and neighborhood schools. Every child should have a safe route to school, whether it’s a sidewalk to walk down or a protected bike lane. Not only does it help reduce traffic congestion and pollution, but it helps physical and mental health as well. Once we have accomplished these goals, only then should we go back to prioritizing projects across the city. We need to ensure that the transportation dollars that flow into the city from HB2017, the State’s transportation package, are prioritized for safe routes to school and the multiple greenways projects planned for East Portland.
Here’s how I will get it done: I’ll work with EPAP to review their list of infrastructure needs, identify the top projects, connect with bureaus on where they are in the queue, if at all, and with that information, I will better understand the fiscal needs and whether we can indeed get them done in the next few years. I know the COVID-19 crisis will really tighten the City budget for any peripheral projects other than housing, jobs, and small businesses, but I will advocate for EPAP’s priorities with what funding there is still available.
5. If you are elected, what is your vision of East Portland a decade from now? What is your strategy to get us there?
My 10-year vision for East Portland is that every neighborhood is a 20-minute walkable neighborhood, that every child has a safe and healthy way to get to school, transit is free for youth and there are more frequent bus routes that actually connect every quadrant of our city to East Portland. I want to see abundant affordable housing options, small businesses thriving, and new clean and innovative jobs in East Portland thanks to smart development. In 10 years, I’m certain we’ll continue to see the rich diversity and cultural aspects of East Portland shine through and influence the entire city.
I am firmly committed and have a proven track record fighting for resources to benefit East Portland. With the upcoming process to change our City Government, I will fight to change our City Government to one that is more representative of the needs of all Portlanders, particularly those in East County. East County deserves an elected official who will represent the needs of their community on City Council, and that means that person needs to live in East County and be someone who residents can contact directly to advocate for their community’s needs.