New Multnomah County District 1 Commissioner Sharon Meieran was joined by about 100 people at her swearing-in ceremony at Central Library on Jan. 3. The ceremony, held in the west side of her district, followed an official swearing-in with fellow new commissioners Jessica Vega Pederson and Lori Stegmann at the county’s eastside headquarters earlier in the day.
The emcee for the Central Library ceremony was Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz. She noted that the audience included “people from many walks of life,” including family members, supporters, elected and non-profit leaders, and several candidates who ran against Commissioner Meieran. Several friends and colleagues spoke about the new commissioner before her swearing in.
“The next two years will be tough for Multnomah County,” County Chair Deborah Kafoury predicted, referring to expected changes in federal policies. She said Commissioner Meieran’s experience as an emergency room physician will be a special asset.
“Multnomah County is one of Oregon’s biggest providers of medical services. Sharon knows the health care system firsthand.”
Referring to the new all-women county board, Chair Kafoury said “Sharon is joining a team of five tough women who are going to get things done.”
County Sheriff Mike Reese shared a campaign office with Commissioner Meieran and praised her curiosity and interest in a wide range of social and justice issues the county deals with, from mental health to public safety. “Even though she’s a doctor, an attorney and now a county commissioner, I’m very impressed with how grounded and real she is,” Sheriff Reese said. “She is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable citizens in our county.”
Commissioner Meieran was sworn-in by U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken. Judge Aiken said she met Commissioner Meieran at a dinner, where they ended up talking all night about how to improve public service delivery. “Sharon understands the value of prevention and receiving good services early in life.” Judge Aiken said. “It’s a lot easier to raise a child well than to repair a broken adult.”
She said Commissioner Meieran epitomizes three qualities author Atul Gawande, M.D. said are needed to be a good person in his book “Better: A surgeon’s notes on performance”: diligence, doing right and ingenuity.
After her swearing-in, Commissioner Meieran spoke to the gathering, which included her husband Fred, children Ella (13) and Ben (10), parents Rosalind and Gene, and brother Andrew.
“I can’t say that I enjoy public speaking,” Commissioner Meieran said. “But my favorite quote is ‘Speak your mind, even when your voice shakes.’”
“I want to make a difference in the lives of the people of Multnomah County. I’m so excited to be joining an all-woman board, with such different backgrounds and perspectives. It’s the first majority minority board in the county’s history. The diversity of our board will be our strength.”
She thanked her family and friends, and also Chair Kafoury for her support along the way and for being an “inspiring role model.”