Dear friends & neighbors,

This month I had the opportunity to testify in front of the Oregon House Interim Committee on Education about the Preschool for All report and our plans for the next phase of work in bringing a joyful, high quality, early childhood education within reach of all kids in Multnomah County. 

It was wonderful to be back in the Capitol in front of some of my former colleagues to talk about the work we did to bring together a diverse group of people who are passionate about building quality early education opportunities that center children and family. I was able to talk about our priority around workforce compensation and increasing pathways into the field of early learning and the need to build partnerships to meet the demand for classroom spaces and learning centers. 

Much of my work this month has included talking to people and organizations about Preschool for All. I am glad so many people are interested in the work we’re doing, but I sometimes get asked the question: With so many critical needs in our community right now, how can we devote resources to early childhood education? My answer to this is: How can we not?  

We need to address critical issues such as housing, homelessness, and addiction that are such urgent demands for our attention and resources right now, but we also can’t pretend that the future isn’t going to happen. We have the opportunity to invest in the lives of children and families in ways that can change lifelong trajectories. Quality early education helps close the achievement gap in reading and math, builds children’s social and emotional skills, increases rates of high school graduation, and raises income levels. It helps build a workforce ready for 21st century jobs and decrease involvement with our justice system. If we do this the right way, we can build a system that meets families where that are in a way that respects their culture and life experiences, helping to build trust in our systems and community.  

There is a lot of work to be done in the months ahead to take our plan and make it a reality, but I am excited for the challenge because the opportunity to make a lasting difference for residents of Multnomah County is just so important. Sincerely,

Jessica


  

Recognizing our Latinx Community

2019 Latinx Heritage Month 

For the past three years, I have enjoyed the privilege of sponsoring a resolution declaring September 15 through October 15 as Latinx Heritage Month in Multnomah County. Every year, I am so proud that we as a community take the time to acknowledge and celebrate the many ways that Latinx people have built, strengthened, and supported our county and our state. It is a time to acknowledge our contributions and progress, both of which have often happened in the face of discrimination and hostilities. 

In these divisive times, I think it is appropriate that we find ways to connect with one another -- and that’s why the theme of this year’s proclamation is: Construyendo Puentes, No Barreras, or Building Bridges, Not Walls.


Weigh in on the Earthquake Ready Burnside Bridge Project

EQRB logo

As you know, work is underway to create a resilient and safe Burnside Bridge that will withstand a major earthquake. We need your feedback as the project enters its next phase (the environmental review process) and we want to hear from you.  

Visit our online open house through Oct. 4 to learn about and share your thoughts on bridge alternatives; street space, including travel lane widths and pedestrian and bicycle lanes; traffic management during construction; and more! 

Learn more about the project and weigh in here


Climate Action with some "Nasty Women"

JVP at NWGSD event

Every day that we fail to take action to address the climate crisis, we inch toward a point of no return. Scientists have said loud and clear that if we are not on track to achieve full decarbonization by 2030, the impacts of the climate crisis will be severe and irreversible.  

I was proud to participate as a panelist with Oregon Representative Karin Power, Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, APANO Advocacy Director Jenny Lee, and Suzie Kassouf from Sunrise Movement PDX for a discussion on the climate crisis hosted by Nasty Women Get Shit Done PDX. We were also fortunate to be joined by Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who introduced the panel and spoke about the importance of action on the climate crisis.

While our federal administration has completely abdicated its role in combating climate change, we at the state and local levels have taken up the mantle of leadership. Here at Multnomah County I was proud to champion the passage of our 100by50 renewable energy commitment; and climate champions like state Rep. Power are fighting for climate action at the state level. Between the work happening on the ground and the gains being made in local policy, I’m confident we have what it takes to complete a just transition to a renewable energy future.

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