Commissioner Vega Pederson's November 2017 Newsletter

Dear friends and neighbors,

In the hostile political climate of 2017, it can be easy to lose sight of the progress and the victories that we have accomplished here in Multnomah County. But as the holidays approach, it’s an appropriate time to reflect and give thanks.
 
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as your Multnomah County Commissioner for District 3. Over the past eleven months, you have shared with me your stories, your challenges, and your hopes for our community - at town halls, constituent coffees, public hearings, and elsewhere. Thank you for entrusting me to lead us towards a healthier, safer, and stronger Multnomah County.
 
This work can’t be done in isolation, and I’m grateful for the many colleagues, partners, and allies that have fought alongside me in 2017.
 
I’m fortunate and grateful to count Chair Kafoury, Commissioner Meieran, Commissioner Smith, and Commissioner Stegmann among my partners in this work. We all benefit from a board that is powerfully diverse, talented, and driven to make positive change.
 
I’m grateful for the many organizational allies, community leaders, and activists that have contributed their time and energy to our community. We have accomplished incredible victories together – from declaring our county a safe and welcoming place; to striving to address the affordable housing and homelessness crises; to promoting clean energy, clean air, and a healthy environment for all our residents.
 
The generations of leaders that came before us deserve our gratitude, too. In this month of Thanksgiving, we must recognize and honor the indigenous peoples who originally inhabited the land we now call Oregon. I’m grateful to live in Portland, which has the ninth largest Native American community in the country. In 2018 and beyond, my office will continue to be a strong partner and advocate for native communities, communities of color, and marginalized communities in Multnomah County.
 
Finally, my deepest thanks go to my family. My husband Aaron and our two beautiful children are my greatest inspirations to lead with courage in the face of heartless attacks from our federal administration. My family’s constant love and support serve as my motivation to be bold, persistent, and optimistic that we will hold strong in defense of our values.
 
At Multnomah County, this work matters because of all the families that call this place home. We all want and deserve to live somewhere safe and warm, to be in good health, to work with dignity and respect, and to build safe communities that honor our individual uniqueness.
 
Thank you all for your civic engagement, for your honest input, and for your willingness to hold me accountable.
 
Warmly,

Jessica


    

Moving On and Moving Up

 

It is with bittersweet emotions that Ana Valderrama, who I’ve been fortunate to have on my staff for three years, will depart my office on December 15th.
 
Ana is an amazing leader, who was hired as my Legislative Aide and then Chief of Staff in the Oregon House in fall of 2014. We were able to champion and pass momentous legislation such as paid sick time, raising the minimum wage, establishing domestic worker rights, curbing notario fraud, and transitioning coal out of our energy mix.
 
In moving with me to Multnomah County, Ana jumped in right away to lead on some of the most critical policy issues facing our community, such as immigrant rights, public safety, reproductive health equity, housing, and early childhood investments. Her grace, tenacity, clear vision, and unerring passion for equity will make her role almost impossible to fill.
 
Ana is starting a new role as the Oregon State Director for Amplify, where I know she will keep doing amazing things for our state.
 
We hope to hire Ana’s successor in the near future and will share that news in our December newsletter.


How We Move About

Improving pedestrian safety in east Portland was my primary motivation in running for elected office, and a focus of my work since. We deserve more transportation choices in east Portland, be that walking, biking or transit. That’s why I was honored to be a recipient of the Weston Award from Oregon Walks. The Weston is named after one of America’s most famous walkers, who once walked from Boston to D.C. in ten days for President Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration. I was honored to share the stage with the awesome women from the Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood, who won for their successful advocacy for funding for much needed sidewalks in their neighborhood, and Steve Bozzone, who spoke eloquently and movingly on the link between pedestrian safety and social and environmental justice.
 
I also had the opportunity to serve as a panelist at a Portland City Club Friday Forum on the future of transportation in our region. I shared the stage with State Representative Barbara Smith Warner and Sarah Iannarone, Associate Director of First Stop Portland, and we had a wonderful discussion moderated by Steph Routh of the Community Cycling Center about building a transportation system that aligns with our values. You can watch the full discussion here.


What Do You Think? Feedback Sought on Draft Wood Smoke Ordinance

Wood smoke is a health hazard during the winter, particularly during certain weather conditions called inversions, which trap smoke from households close to the ground, creating smoky, hazy conditions. This smoke has been shown to contribute to heart and lung disease, respiratory distress and low birth weight.
                                                           
That’s why I’m working with commissioner and doctor Sharon Meieran on a draft ordinance to reduce harmful wood smoke when the problem is most severe. The draft proposal is similar to the policies adopted in other counties and apply only when inversion events create unhealthy air conditions – on average 3 to 5 times per year.
                                                           
We’re holding public hearings on the proposed ordinance throughout the county. We welcome your feedback at our events and/or online. You can find details on our events and on the ordinance here.


Senior Resource Fair a Hit! 

Last month, my office hosted our first Senior Resource Fair at Midland Library. We had nearly 20 vendors from Multnomah County, the City of Portland, the State of Oregon, and various non-profit partners providing information to older adults, and the event was a great success! I am deeply grateful to everybody who took the time to help organize this event, and look forward to hosting an even bigger one next year!

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