Amid a packed and buzzing Multnomah County Boardroom, Jesse Beason was sworn in Thursday, Nov. 16, as the Multnomah County interim District 2 Commissioner.
Beason, president and chief executive officer of Northwest Health Foundation, has been former Commissioner Susheela Jayapal’s Board-approved alternate since Jan. 6, 2022. When Japayal announced she was resigning from the Board of County Commissioners on Nov. 1 to run for Congress in Oregon’s Third Congressional District, Beason stepped into her role immediately. He will serve until a permanent replacement to serve the remainder of Jayapal’s term as commissioner, which ends Dec. 31, 2026, is selected by a majority of voters in the May 2024 or November 2024 elections.
Before reciting the oath of office, Beason affirmed his commitment to serving the county and the constituents of District 2 until voters elect a permanent replacement.
“I believe in America’s promise. It is a promise we work towards every day through both the ordinary acts of love and friendship we show our neighbors and perfect strangers, and the extraordinary efforts we make collectively through the policies and practices of our governments,” he said. “Governments like Multnomah County.”
Michael Alexander, a community advocate, administered the oath before an audience of close friends, family, colleagues and community members during the regular Board meeting.
“Throughout his career, Jesse has been a champion for ensuring that all people can have lives composed of the dignity, rights and opportunities they are entitled to,” Alexander said.
“I am confident that Jesse will help to hold this body to dialogue and deliberation through its most contentious matters in a manner that seeks to find the higher altitude composed of the calmer air of our shared humanity.”
Beason joins the Board after 10 years at Northwest Health Foundation, a Portland-based organization that seeks to improve health outcomes and health equity in Oregon and southwest Washington. Before becoming president of the foundation in 2019, he had served as its vice president of strategy and public affairs since 2013. Previously, Beason was the executive director of Proud Ground, a senior policy director at the City of Portland, and worked in public affairs at Metro.
Beason’s priorities as commissioner include increasing affordable housing and decreasing houselessness, improving community safety, and creating a healthy democracy.
“I first met Commissioner Beason almost a decade ago when he and I served on a board of a nonprofit together,” Jayapal said. “Over the two or so years we worked together on that board and in the years since, I have seen the qualities that make him the extraordinary leader that he is.”
“I am excited to see all these wonderful qualities that have been expressed here just blossom and see them brought to bear on the Board to help us with the sacred work that we do here for the people of Multnomah County,” said Commissioner Sharon Meieran.
“I am really looking forward to having you join us,” said Commissioner Julia Brim-Edwards. “I know you will make us better, stronger, pressure test our ideas, our values and hopefully, help us do our work better for the citizens of Multnomah County.”
“When a person shows up — authentically, diligently and with passion and commitment for the community — the community shows up for them, and that's exactly what happened here today,” Chair Jessica Vega Pederson said. “And I think it speaks so much to the impact you have already had on Multnomah County in your decades here, and just bodes so well for the impact you are going to be able to have on this Board for our community even in the short time that you may be here.”
Beason has lived in Portland since he attended Lewis and Clark College more than 20 years ago. He lives in North Portland with his partner.Watch Commissioner Beason’s swearing in ceremony on Multnomah County’s YouTube channel.