A proud resident of East Portland, Jessica Vega Pederson was raised in Northwest Indiana among her large, loving Mexican-American family. Following the lead of her mother who was a local activist for civil rights, she became involved in advocacy in high school.
After a racially-charged incident involving the school football team took place her senior year in high school, Jessica and her sister started a student group to promote a better understanding of the experience of students of color. This work led her to a summer program in Washington, D.C. where she studied the power of government in shaping people’s lives. Jessica continued working on issues impacting Latinos, students, and the environment during student government work in college.
Jessica received her bachelor’s degree in informational systems management and philosophy from Loyola University of Chicago. She spent fourteen years in the technology industry, helping startups, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies grow their business using communication technologies.
Frustrated by the pressing challenges in her east Portland neighborhood and seeking to expand opportunities for working women to thrive, Jessica ran for the Oregon Legislature because she wanted to do more than talk about making things better. When elected in 2012, Jessica became the first Latina to serve in the Oregon House of Representatives. In the legislature, Jessica fought for issues such as paid sick leave, pay equity, and raising the minimum wage to improve the lives of women and working families in Oregon. As chair of the House Energy and Environment Committee she championed the renewal of the Clean Fuels Program and passage of a bill to remove coal from Oregon's energy mix, two ground-breaking laws to create jobs and address the sources of climate change. For her work, she was awarded the national Sierra Club’s 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award.
Elected in May 2016 to serve on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners and re-elected in May 2020, Jessica is proud to fight for an inclusive, prosperous, and vibrant Multnomah County. Since being elected, she led a historic effort to expand early childhood education by chairing the Preschool for All Task Force and championing the campaign that successfully passed universal preschool for all Multnomah County 3- and 4-year olds in November 2020.
Jessica has also led the County’s efforts to combat climate change and improve our transportation system. She represents the County at various regional transportation tables, and is leading the effort to build a new, earthquake-resilient Burnside Bridge. She also represents Multnomah County on the Portland Children’s Levy Allocation Committee.
Jessica lives in the Hazelwood neighborhood of Portland with her husband Aaron and their two children. When she is not working for the people in District 3, Jessica loves to explore the beauty of Oregon with her family.
Contact Commissioner Vega Pederson’s office by phone at 503-988-5217 or email at District3@Multco.us.