The information on this page is copied from VOTE411.org. The two candidates running for Multnomah County Chair in the November 2022 election provided the information and answered the questions below. They also participated in a LWV Election Forum, answering questions about county issues. You can view the video recording of that forum here. There is also a podcast of the forum. This is a nonpartisan position.
Jessica Vega Peterson
Candidates’ Answers to LWV Questions
1. What is your philosophy of the role of the Chair of the County Commission?
Sharon Meieran: I consider the County to be the “heart and soul of local government,” with its primary role being administration of health and human services, including homeless services, mental health and addictions, and public health. The Chair is the CEO of the County, setting the $3 billion + budget, hiring and overseeing all department heads, and setting the vision and direction of the County. The Chair’s role holds a lot of power, but should be used collaboratively to empower the Board and community.
Jessica Vega Pederson: The Chair is the chief executive of Multnomah County, managing thousands of employees and developing a multi-billion dollar budget. The Chair is also a key convener of leaders to craft solutions to our community’s greatest challenges. The Chair needs to create and deliver a vision for expanding racial, economic, and climate justice. As Chair my collaborative leadership that resulted in the passage of Preschool for All and raising the minimum wage is key to effecting solutions to our challenges.
2. How would you assess current efforts to assist people without access to housing and what more could be done?
Sharon Meieran: I believe the County is failing. People are living in squalor and dying in increasing numbers on our streets. This is a public health, public safety and humanitarian crisis. We need to urgently allow sanctioned camping, which shelters people in a way that is cheaper, faster, safer and healthier for all. We must also effectively implement Built For Zero, a proven data-driven strategy with a goal of getting to zero people living unhoused while holding government accountable.
Jessica Vega Pederson: We need a comprehensive approach to keep people housed, help people off streets, and ensure access to support housing services. Right now we still work under a system built by piecing services together without adequate funding or coordination between. I will expand our investments and bring online new data systems that track our successes and identify areas for improvement. I will improve coordination between jurisdictions. We must improve our work together to address the crisis on our streets.
3. What is your view of the County Charter Review Committee’s seven ballot proposals? Please explain your answer.
Sharon Meieran: Accountability is essential to effective governance, and the County does not have sufficient transparency and accountability in how it spends taxpayer money. I believe two ballot proposals will dramatically improve accountability: (1) Having an ombudsperson housed in the Auditor’s office and enshrining this in Charter; (2) providing the Auditor with effective access to information, including for contracted nonprofit organizations. See my views on all at https://www.multco.us/commissioner-meieran
Jessica Vega Pederson: I am supportive of the Charter Review Committee’s proposals. I appreciate the time and effort charter committee members put into this process and believe that these proposals will help further access to democracy, accountability, and equity in Multnomah County.