More than 100 people gathered at the Gresham Library on Wednesday night to honor and welcome incoming County Commissioner for District 4, Lori Stegmann.
The event was held just blocks away from Gresham City Hall where Stegmann served as a city councilwoman for 6 years and just a few miles from Rockwood -- where she grew up.
Longtime friends and colleagues took to the microphone to share heartfelt and often humorous accounts of the newly-elected county leader.
“This woman was the most tenacious campaigner I have ever seen in my entire life,” laughed Piluso. “She would even go through cans and bottles to support her campaign fundraising efforts. It was just amazing what this woman would do. But again she was steadfast in her standards and steadfast in what she believed in and that is a gift.”
Stegmann is the first Asian-American ever elected to the Multnomah County board, making it a majority-minority commission for the first time in its 162 year history. “Both milestones are long overdue,” said Stegmann.
The youngest of five children, Stegmann was adopted as an infant from South Korea and grew up in the Rockwood neighborhood of Gresham. She has been a fixture in East County much of her life as a business owner, volunteer, activist, and elected leader.
Stegmann was sworn in by Multnomah County Presiding Judge Nan Waller.
"I am thankful the very intelligent voters of East County chose Lori to fight for them, said Chair Kafoury. "She knows what it takes to dig deep into the budget and make our efforts pay off."
Stegmann emphasized her priorities which include public safety, homelessness, education and jobs as commissioner for District 4 which reaches from SE 148th Ave stretching out to the Bonneville Dam. And includes the cities of Portland, Gresham, Troutdale, Fairview, Wood Village, Corbett and unincorporated Multnomah County.
“My goal over the next four years is to tear down silos, build bridges, and have courageous conversations that will lead to meaningful solutions to address the root causes of poverty,” said Stegmann.
She applauded the recent passage of the Gresham Barlow School District bond and Reynolds School District bond in 2015. And promised to champion more support and resources for SUN schools and school-based health clinics in East County highlighting the need to connect people in underserved communities to education.
“What I’m really excited about in East County is the 2017 groundbreaking of the Rockwood Rising Redevelopment, that will be yet another source of economic development and jobs.”
Stegmann also noted her role as the public safety liaison while serving on Gresham City Council.
“I believe that we have to start treating people appropriately,” said Stegmann in reference to the County’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) pilot program, “and sending them to jail for low-level drug offenses or mental health issues is not the answer. Putting someone in jail for a short or a long period of time has proven to be an ineffective deterrent to recidivism.”
“She was always there for me even when my own parents weren’t able to be,” said Brynn Lerma who choked up while speaking. “She’s my second mom and she always will be - thank you.”
Stegmann teared up while thanking her constituents, supporters and family, particularly her parents.
“I want to thank my mom and dad, Walter and Edna Stegmann. My dad passed away many years ago but I feel his presence today.”
“I want you to know that in 1960, a logger and a stay-at home mom decided to adopt a baby girl from Seoul, Korea, and they already had four biological children of their own, so I’m not sure what they were thinking, said Stegmann, “but I will be forever indebted and grateful for their empathy, generosity and most of all their love."