Chair Deborah Kafoury led a diverse panel of county employees and services providers in a vigorous discussion on some of the core issues affecting East Multnomah County on Tuesday, Jan. 6.
Before Gresham’s Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Forum, Kafoury stressed continued commitment and collaboration with community leaders on key services in East County cities and communities.
“I made a commitment if elected as Multnomah County Chair that I will be chair for the all of Multnomah County and I will make good on that promise,” said Kafoury at Tuesday’s forum.
From access to health services and policies surrounding e-cigarettes to public safety, promise neighborhoods, and families and children experiencing homelessness, Chair Kafoury laid out priorities for 2015.
“Last year in Multnomah County, more than 3,000 children experienced homelessness. We are now poised to remove the bureaucratic roadblocks stifling families experiencing homelessness.”
Members of the panel included: Multnomah County Health director Joanne Fuller; Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services division director David Hidalgo; POIC/Rosemary Anderson High School president Joe McFerrin; Multnomah County’s Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE) coordinator Rebecca Stavenjord and Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Jim Hayden.
Multnomah County Health director Joanne Fuller explained the successes and challenges of an evolving healthcare system and an exploding e-cigarette market.
“It’s our responsibility to make sure there’s clean air and access to healthy food,” explained Fuller. “If you’ve been reading the newspaper, you’ve probably read about e-cigarettes. We have no regulation over the substances that are in the devices.”
“I recently learned my 9-year-old daughter can legally buy e-cigarettes.” said Chair Kafoury.
The chair and panel members emphasized the importance of strong partnerships with schools, law enforcement agencies and service providers.
The forum ended with an opportunity for Gresham Chamber members to ask questions. When asked what is being done to address poverty, Chair Kafoury expressed optimism in the grant application establishing promise zones (a joint County/Gresham pursuit of federal Promise Zone status for Gresham’s Rockwood neighborhood) and a personal mission to improve housing.
“My budget is going to be coming out and when we have children moving around from school to school, it doesn’t create stability. So I think stable housing, that’s really the foundation for a healthy tomorrow.”