Commissioner Lori Stegmann was sworn in today for her second term as Multnomah County’s District 4 commissioner representing East County. She took the oath of office administered by County Judge Nan Waller in a virtual ceremony along with her fellow re-elected Commissioners Sharon Meieran (District 1-West County) and Jessica Vega Pederson (District 3-Mid County).
In remarks after being sworn in for her second term, Commissioner Stegmann reflected on her first day as a county commissioner four years ago. Walking into the county building “I remember feeling excited, nervous, hopeful, and frankly terrified,” she recalled. “I thought to myself, this time I may have bitten off more than I could chew, as the ‘imposter syndrome’ began to well up inside of me. But the words ‘nevertheless she persisted’ could not have rung more true than during these past four years.
“Being re-elected to the first board where the majority of us are women of color and the second board to be all female is such an honor,” Commissioner Stegmann continued. Recalling her childhood as an orphan immigrating to the US, she said, “To think how far an abandoned baby from Seoul, South Korea could go in life, if given the chance, is what motivates and drives me every time I look into the eyes of those in need.”
Reflecting on the County Board’s work during her first term, Commissioner Stegmann said she was especially proud of:
Addressing and funding the root causes of homelessness through passage of the Metro Supportive Housing bond
Making upstream investments for children with the adoption of Preschool for All
Planning for a new flagship library in Gresham
Adopting the County’s Workforce Equity Strategic Plan
Commissioner Stegmann and her office also led the County’s 2020 Census efforts, resulting in a 3.2% percentage increase in the County’s self response rate. Commissioner Stegmann noted that the increase came despite a pandemic, recession, social unrest and efforts by elements in the federal government to stoke fear and reduce participation. An accurate Census ensures that county residents and businesses will receive their fare share of federal resources.
At the swearing in ceremony, County Chair Deborah Kafoury called Commissioner Stegmann an “outspoken advocate who gives a clear voice to a part of our county that has been historically overlooked.” Commissioner Stegmann mentioned the pride she felt several weeks ago when she visited the county’s newest school-based health center at Reynolds High School in Troutdale. “Youth from kindergarten to seniors in high school can receive health care there, even if they lack insurance,” she noted.
Commissioner Stegmann emphasized the importance of using data to determine where to best invest the county’s limited resources, as poverty and service needs shift in the county. She is a strong advocate for making upstream investments in social services, to address root causes of problems and prevent more costly interventions later on.
Commissioner Stegmann also noted the challenge of being a local elected leader during a deadly international pandemic. “There are so many people in our community who are suffering,” she said. “I have faith in Multnomah County’s public health approach, and that we will continue to serve those in need and be a light in this darkness. By working together, we will come out stronger on the other side, whether it is distributing grants to East County businesses, standing up the Fairview Food Pantry or continuing our testing sites and vaccine distribution.”
Finally, Commissioner Stegmann thanked her “constituents and supporters, my family and friends, and my allies and adversaries. It is because of you that I am able to learn from my mistakes and rejoice in my accomplishments. And it is my hope that these lessons will enable me to be the kind of servant leader that you deserve. Thank you for having faith in me to continue the important work of the County for another four years.”