The virtual swearing-in ceremony, where Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Nan Waller administered each oath of office, came just a day after supporters of President Donald Trump raided and vandalized the U.S. Capitol.
And as she welcomed the return of her colleagues for new four-year terms — continuing a historic Board of Commissioners made up entirely of women, with a majority of women of color — Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said the “terrifying” display at the Capitol “revealed in almost surreal extremes the weight and reach of the extraordinary responsibility we agree to take on when we take the oath of office.”
“The Commissioners who will be sworn in today were re-elected because their constituents saw these three women demonstrate those qualities throughout their first terms,” Chair Kafoury said. “I can’t overstate how proud I am to have served and continue to serve on this historic iteration of the board of Multnomah County commissioners.”
Each returning commissioner reflected on their first terms — punctuated by the County’s public health leadership role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. And they highlighted their second-term priorities while expressing gratitude for the privilege of serving as a Multnomah County elected official.
“When I first ran for office I felt that my background working on the front line in healthcare would inform my policy work as a commissioner,” said Commissioner Meieran, who still works shifts as an emergency room doctor. “I could never have imagined how connected these roles would be.”
“I have continued to work emergency medicine shifts not because I have to, but because I love it,” she continued. “I engage with the people we serve in the County. I hear the perspectives of my patients, co-workers at all levels. I see how the healthcare system interfaces with all the work we do. Continuing to do the work that inspired me to run for office in the first place keeps me grounded and has provided invaluable insight to complement my role at the County.”
Commissioner Vega Pederson, joined by her husband and two children, said she was proud of the way the community came together to pass one of her signature efforts, the Preschool For All ballot measure approved last fall.
She also acknowledged the connections between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the racial unrest reignited by the police killing of George Floyd, and the push for environmental justice, saying they “motivate me to keep doing more to create and shape a world where every person has an equal chance to thrive and where we don’t shy away from the big challenges that confront us around economic justice, racism, our climate crisis and strengthening our democracy.”
Commissioner Stegmann reflected on being the first Asian American and Korean to serve on the board. She pledged to continue her commitment to better serving and engaging with residents of east Multnomah County.
Last year, the Board advanced a plan for new affordable housing in Troutdale. And voters joined Stegmann in supporting a Multnomah County Library ballot measure that will bring a new flagship library to east County.
“To think how far an abandoned baby from Seoul, South Korea, could go in life, if given the chance,” she said, “is what motivates and drives me every time I look into the eyes of those in need.”