11-20-2017  3:09 pm      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

SEI, Sunshine Division Offer Thanksgiving Meals to Families in Need

Turkeys are being provided to fill 200 Thanksgiving food boxes for SEI families ...

NAACP Portland Monthly Meeting Nov. 18

Monthly general membership meeting takes place on Saturday, 12 - 2 p.m. ...

Multnomah County Animal Services Waives Adoption Fees Nov. 17

Special runs from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday ...

Fitzpatrick Presents 'Pathway 1000' Plan Before City Council

Plan would restore involuntary displacement by building 80 homes per year ...

Sisters Network to Hold Monthly Meeting Nov. 11

Meeting to take place Saturday morning at June Key Delta Center ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Local Author Visits North Portland Library

Renee Watson teaches students and educators about the power of writing ...

Is the FBI’s New Focus on “Black Identity Extremists” the New COINTELPRO?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) talks about the FBI’s misguided report on “Black Identity Extremism” and negative Facebook ads. ...

ACA Enrollment Surging, Even Though It Ends Dec. 15

NNPA contributing writer Cash Michaels writes about enrollment efforts ...

Blacks Often Pay Higher Fees for Car Purchases than Whites

Charlene Crowell explains why Black consumers often pay higher fees than White consumers, because of “add-on” products. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

Chair Deborah Kafoury, Commissioner Sharon Meieran, Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, Commissioner Lori Stegmann, Commissioner Loretta Smith
By Melanie Sevcenko | The Skanner News

Tuesday marked a milestone for Multnomah County with the swearing-in of three new commissioners to its county board. For the first time in the county’s history, the board is comprised of all women, with the majority of its members being people of color.

In a morning ceremony, the county welcomed Asian-American Commissioner Lori Stegmann of District 4, Commissioner Sharon Meieran of District 1, and Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson of District 3, who was elected in 2012 as the first Latina in the Oregon House of Representatives.

The board is rounded out by African American Commissioner Loretta Smith of District 2, who has held her position since 2010, and County Chair Deborah Kafoury.

“District 3 is really at the heart of Multnomah County,” Jessica Vega Pederson told The Skanner shortly after being sworn in. Pederson’s diverse district encompasses the western edge of Portland’s Laurelhurst neighborhood, south along the city’s thoroughfare Cesar Chavez Boulevard, and  East at 148th Avenue. “I think being a woman of color and representing my district is a really good fit.”

Pederson, who lives in East Portland with her family, said her primary goals include, “making sure that we’re serving all people of Multnomah County in a way that is equitable and allows access to prosperity.”

She also added that the variety of perspectives and backgrounds of the commissioners will likely prove to be the strength of the board. Hailing from the typically male-dominated technology sector, Pederson said entering politics marked a transition into working alongside empowered women.

 “I think it’s fantastic that Oregon is really leading the way in progressive government that has women in leadership positions, and is especially supportive of people of color in office,” she said.

Looking towards a new year, the board is united in its efforts to make mental health care a top priority. According to Commissioner Sharon Meieran, an emergency physician, addressing the widely cast net of mental health issues means fixing holes in homelessness, addiction and the criminal justice system.

 “We have great people providing excellent services, but our system isn’t working for those who need it the most, those who are most vulnerable,” said Commissioner Meieran, who noted that working with all women presents a new opportunity for her. “We need to look at the system holistically and see where we can create a meaningful impact.”

But moving beyond the board’s individual members, Commissioner Pederson is relying on their collective values to serve the people best.

“We are progressive and we know Multnomah County can be a positive solution to tackle the big problems that we have, like homelessness, affordable housing, and better access to mental health services,” said Pederson. “I think those things reflect what all the people of Multnomah County want, regardless of ethnicity and gender.” 

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