ON THE ISSUES
(If you have a local issue not answered on this page, please ask me on my contact page)
The model for dealing with the chronically homeless is usually to get them “ready” for housing by guiding them through drug rehabilitation programs or mental-health counseling. The old model was well-intentioned but misinformed. You need housing to achieve sobriety and stability, not the other way around.
It’s proven to work. Under conservative Lloyd Pendleton’s Housing First plan, 85% of homeless people in Utah were housed in one year. New York City saved an average of $16,000 of taxpayer dollars per homeless individual. Housing First saved Denver $40,000 per homeless person in emergency-service costs and detox visits alone. And in Fort Lyon, Colorado, it will cost under $17,000 per person, compared to the estimated $43,000 it costs to leave them outside.
Solving homelessness can fix a lot of other problems, including truancy from schools, food insecurity, drug & alcohol abuse, unemployment, etc. And it's much cheaper for taxpayers because they incur a much lower rate of mental illness/substance abuse that sends them to the hospital on the taxpayers' dime.
We know what works. We have great methods like Housing First and Critical Time Intervention that have been proven to end homelessness and save taxpayers dollars. It’s not a matter of whether we know how to fix the problem. What we lack is political will. We celebrate housing a couple of people here and there, and we should. But we continue not to do enough for the hundreds of individuals, families, and youth still experiencing homelessness each night in Oregon City. Everyone on the streets deserves a home. Homeless people are not statistics. They are people like you and me.
REPRESENTING ALL OF OREGON CITY
I refuse to believe that the people of this city are as divided as the national government makes us seem. The Republican party is not full of racists, sexists, and xenophobes. It’s mostly filled with rural voters and those who care about the economy, trade, and jobs. And the Democratic party is not full of Socialists, Communists, and the welfare-dependent. It’s mostly filled with urban voters and those that care about healthcare, education, and minority & LGBTQ rights.
The American political system has forced the entirety of the political spectrum inside of only two camps. Republican or Democrat. But this city is full of people of all different political beliefs that don't fall neatly into those two camps. Oregon City has deep red conservatives, moderate republicans, libertarians, moderate democrats, social democrats, socialists, and everything in between. The importance is remembering that nearly all of the people that disagree with you want to see what is better for this city but just have opposing views on how to accomplish this.
The next mayor must understand this reality; not shut themself off from opposing views. They must be as open to criticisms as they are to compliments. And they must represent everyone in the city even if they don’t align politically.
HOW TO MOVE FORWARD
The pandemic has had real effects on Oregon City residents that the next mayor needs to address: people struggling to keep a roof over their head, losing their businesses, waiting months for unemployment, unending job applications, increases in mental health problems, young ones struggling with education, and the way we have treated “essential workers” with complete disregard.
But social distancing doesn’t have to be draconian. South Korea never locked its citizens down, but still managed to slow the spread of CoVID-19. “Without harming the principle of a transparent and open society, we recommend a response system that blends voluntary public participation with creative applications of technology. Test, trace, and isolate.” These are the types of steps we need to take.
Teachers are expected to fill way too many shoes. They are expected to be counselors and to identify and understand every learning, emotional, and physical disability, to protect their students from an active shooter, to identify physical, emotional, and psychological abuse, identify food insecurity, to possibly administer life-saving medicine, and sometimes to spend their own money to supply their classrooms. Now, they may be told to report to their classrooms during a pandemic.
Teachers are getting lined up to be the next ‘hero’. As mayor, I will advocate for a safe opening of schools such as vaccinations for all teachers and staff.
HEALING OREGON CITY
All the candidates talk about "listening more to the minority voices in Oregon City," but this isn't the first step. To have the ability to listen to these voices, we need to first understand why they feel excluded in the first place.
Oregon as a whole - and Oregon City specifically - have a very dark past when it comes to minority groups. Under past Oregon law, Chinese people were prohibited from voting and interracial marriage and the Page Act banned all Chinese women unless they could prove they weren't a prostitute. Oregon City specifically drove early Chinese immigrants out of the city by mobs. Oregon began as a white-only state when we wrote the exclusion of blacks into our constitution and refused to ratify the 14th and 15th amendments. Hispanic people face research-proven racial discrimination when it comes to renting and entering the housing market by being quoted higher rents, given additional fees, and even shown inferior units. Multiple Native American tribes that inhabited this area before us are now completely extinct. And Oregon City previously passed a version of Measure 9 which aimed to ban civil rights protection based on sexual orientation.
They don't just need to be listened to; they need to have a voice. As a person who is 25% Native American and 25% Portuguese, I will make sure that all voices are valued and given the weight they deserve.
BLM and Police Reform
The problem with the phrase “Defund the Police” is that in many rural/suburban communities, the police are viewed very favorably. You need to articulate something where police can be part of the solution too. “Police-Community Involvement” is easier for both parties to attach to. For example, in Canada, they have what is called the Integrated Crisis Teams. An officer gets teamed up with a counselor and, when it is safe to do so, the non-uniformed counselor provides the crisis services.
This is the biggest flaw in the movement to cut funding for policing and apply it to social services: it stacks the money up as opposition rather than alliance. Police are supposed to be social workers who operate under a different mandate. Rather than defunding the police, we should be breaking the walls down between agencies so that police are part of social services.
ENSURING PUBLIC SAFETY
The problem expressed by the BLM movement is that law enforcement does not do anything to fix the causes of crime: poverty, mental health, education, addiction, and lack of opportunity. Law enforcement only deals with the symptom, not the disease. Don’t abolish the police, but resources should also be spent preventing the factors that lead to crime, rather than waging an aggressive response to it.
Public safety is about access to social services, economic rejuvenation, and good schools - not just cops. How the people in Oregon City measure public safety is not on a piece of paper. It’s by what they sense when they open their front door.