Board stands up for Pride, abortion rights, climate response and heat victims

July 6, 2022

Commissioner Meieran at the PRIDE parade.

Commissioner Sharon Meieran with abortion rights sign.

Commissioner Sharon Meieran

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners passed the FY 2023 budget on June 16. Commissioner Meieran said she is deeply grateful for all of the hard work that went into crafting a budget that reflects the County’s values to support community health, safety and justice. Read her full statement here

June brought the opportunity for the Commissioner to march with Basic Rights Oregon and other community leaders to celebrate queer identity during the Pride Parade and marched with community for Juneteenth to celebrate Black liberation and identity. Commissioner Meieran and Commissioner Susheela Jayapal co-sponsored the 2022 Multnomah County Pride Proclamation that recognized queer as an identity that transcends into a politic through challenging the status-quo and the act of disrupting racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism, transphobia, xenophobia, and economic injustice so that all people oppressed by systemic injustice can achieve liberation. The guest speakers included David Cuevas, Disease Intervention specialist program supervisor for Multnomah County’s Health Department, Chelsea Varnum, the Youth Director of LGBTQIA2S+, Services for New Avenues for Youth, and Nancy Haque, the Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. Watch the proclamation by visiting the Board Clerk’s website. A story on the proclamation and Kathleen Sadaat award is here.

Commissioner Meieran supports the Built for Zero (BFZ) initiative to address homelessness. On June 17, she joined community members who are interested in learning more about how the County can better its systems that identify, uplift, and assist unhoused community members. Additionally, Commissioner Meieran recently wrote an op-ed that explains the value of an essential part of the BFZ strategy: the “By Name” list. Learn more about the BFZ initiative and “By Name” list by reading her op-ed here.

Finally, as a pro-choice advocate, the Commissioner was devastated by the Supreme Court’s final decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Like many residents in Multnomah County, Commissioner Meieran turned to community for support. She joined in the protest against the infringement of reproductive rights; standing with the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon at their event in partnership with Telltale: “We Are Still Here”, and joining other Jewish women on a panel of speakers organized by the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education to speak to the Jewish response to the Supreme Court decision. Commissioner Meieran firmly believes that everyone deserves the right to choose and than abortion is healthcare. Multnomah County is here with open arms to anyone who may be in need of abortion services. 

Commissioner Susheela Jayapal with Nancy Haque of Basic Rights Oregon, and Kathleen Sadaat, longtime LGBTQ activist.

Commissioner Jayapal at a celebration of Multnomah County's community health workers.

Commissioner Susheela Jayapal

Climate change, air quality, and environmental sustainability are key priorities for Commissioner Jayapal, and as she looks forward to her second term on the Board of Commissioners, she is engaging with constituents and advocates to identify policies and programs that will create progress on each of these fronts. 

Last week, Commissioner Jayapal returned from a clean industry study tour of Denmark, a leader in the green energy transition and sustainable practices. Danish localities have pioneered industrial symbiosis, in which local governments, industrial businesses, and utilities collaborate to minimize carbon emissions and maximize energy efficiency. The Portland delegation heard from experts and local government officials and toured several innovative industrial facilities, and returned committed to applying these practices in Portland and Multnomah County. The next steps of this exchange will include planning meetings and a Danish delegation visit to Portland.
Commissioner Jayapal has focused on air quality, including wood smoke and diesel emission reductions. She met last week with constituents from the Argay Terrace neighborhood, including Parkrose School Board members concerned about the siting of a distribution facility right in the middle of a residential neighborhood close to school walking routes. Research shows that these facilities are significant contributors to diesel pollution.  Commissioner Jayapal also testified before the Portland City Council in support of an ordinance that would limit the expansion of fossil fuel storage infrastructure in the city, and particularly at the Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub.

Commissioner Vega Pederson marches in the June 19 PRIDE parade in Portland.

Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson with Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton at the Early Childhood Policy Academy.

Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson

Upon the completion of the FY 2023 budget process, Commissioner Vega Pederson was pleased to have introduced three amendments, strengthening the County’s investments in critical resources for our community. Those amendments included: $200,000 to ensure access to safe and timely reproductive health care, which is more important now than ever before with the recent repeal of Roe v Wade; the establishment of a new small business repair fund for businesses located in east county that have been vandalized; and funds to expand the space where guns taken off our streets are stored, which will allow us to get more guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. 

On June 19, Commissioner Vega Pederson was proud to march in the annual Portland Pride parade, alongside county employees and community members from across Multnomah County. 

Last week, Commissioner Vega Pederson traveled to Cambridge, Mass., for the Early Childhood Policy Academy hosted by the Hunt Institute in collaboration with Harvard University. At the Policy Academy, Commissioner Vega Pederson spoke about the community- and parent-led development process of Preschool for All, Multnomah County’s groundbreaking program which will ensure access to high quality preschool for all 3-and 4-year olds in our community, and met with leaders from around the nation such as Juliana Stratton, the Lt. Governor of Illinois. While in Massachusetts, the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade was announced, and Commissioner Vega Pederson joined state legislators from Minnesota, North Carolina, and other states traveling to Boston to protest the decision.

Commissioner Stegmann delivering remarks at the memorial to heat victims June 26..

Commissioner Stegmann celebrates the contribution of community health workers.

Commissioner Lori Stegmann 

On June 16, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners passing an extraordinary $3.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2023, including more than $89 million in direct revenue from the American Rescue Plan. This budget provides funding to support solutions to critical issues such as chronic homelessness, behavioral health and community violence. Highlights include:

  • $183.2 million to help shelter, house, provide behavioral health services and support  people experiencing homelessness.
  • Expanding staff and services in school-based behavioral health programs to  students at all grade levels.
  • Continues the hiring of additional prosecutors and the expansion of the Community Health Initiative in response to the rise in gun violence.
  • Supports youth and families with an expansion of domestic violence response programs and the continued implementation of Preschool for All, providing free-high-quality, culturally responsive and inclusive preschool. Preschool for All Multnomah County
  • Continued movement forward on the Multnomah County Library Capital Bond projects. Construction is set to begin on the East County Flagship Library in FY 2023.
  • Support the CROPS farm in Troutdale run by Mudbone Grown LLC. , building a hub for community access to fresh, culturally appropriate food and the training of new farmers, with a focus on Black and African immigrant farmers.
  • Continued investment in the development of the Vance Project in Gresham, redeveloping 90 acres into a community centerpiece that will bring family wage jobs, housing, community space, a resilience hub and a new location for Animal Services.
  • A pilot program in East County to provide portable air conditioners to 1,000 households who cannot afford one or lack the necessary transportation to secure one (The City of Portland is expected to extend the same offer to households in Portland).

Commissioner Stegmann noted that while these issues cannot be solved in this year’s budget alone, the Board is setting the foundation for a more stable and secure future for our residents. Her full remarks on the budget are here.

She joined the Multnomah County Board to proclaim June 19th as Juneteenth in Multnomah County to honor and celebrates the end of slavery; not the day slavery actually ended. Delayed emancipation was not caused by not-knowing; the culprit was lack of enforcement. We celebrate Juneteenth because it was the beginning of freedom and abolition of slavery for African Americans in the United States.

The following week, Commissioner Stegmann was furious when the Supreme Court betrayed those who can become pregnant, implying they are untrustworthy and denying them the fundamental right of knowing and deciding what is best for themselves. Commissioner Stegmann stood with the @multco Board as they issued a statement condemning the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Commissioner Stegmann remains committed to advancing reproductive justice in our community and nation. On June 22, she joined Vice President Kamala Harris and senior White House officials on a coalition call to discuss the fight to protect reproductive rights. 

On June 26, in the midst of our first heat wave, Commissioner Stegmann honored a memorial to heat victims and kicked off Heat Week on behalf of the County at the one-year anniversary of last year’s historic, and deadly, heat event. She urged residents to take measures to keep themselves and their homes cool, and to check in on their neighbors and stay informed by checking Multnomah County’s Help for When It's Hot site with the latest information on cooling centers, libraries that are offering extended hours.

Heat waves, wildfires, wood smoke, industrial toxics and transportation impact our region’s air quality which can reach unhealthy levels. On June 27, Commissioner Stegmann joined some of our region’s top environmental scientists, Dr. Linda George and Dr. Vivek Shandas at the Neighbors for Clean Air’s Science Night to discuss the steps we have taken towards sustainability and resilience. 

Commissioner Stegmann was thrilled to celebrate Multnomah County’s Community Health Care Workers and all of the difficult work they do.  Community Health Workers assist individuals and their community to achieve positive health outcomes, by helping people adopt healthy behaviors and navigate the healthcare system. In the past two years, going to herculean lengths to bring vaccines and support to people in their neighborhoods.  Our Community Health Care Workers at the Multnomah County Health Department put others first and are always there to support us.