The 2018 election may be over, but we’ve barely begun to feel the impact of newly passed measures and newly elected representatives. For those officials who weren’t incumbents, many are just taking office this month. Their work has the potential to support the Eliot neighborhood in a whole host of different ways.
We reelected State Representative Tawna Sanchez to represent us in the Oregon State Legislature. (We’re also represented by State Senator Lew Frederick, though 2018 wasn’t an election year for Frederick). Her initial election to the state legislature was the first time Portlanders chose a Native American representative (and only the second time Oregonians elected a Native American legislator). She’s a long-term resident of the Humboldt neighborhood, just a few blocks north of us here in the Eliot neighborhood, and as such, Sanchez has prioritized issues that are high priorities for local residents, such as the Portland Superfund site along the Willamette River.
The election of Jo Ann Hardesty marked an additional milestone: for the first time ever, Portland’s city commission includes a woman of color. Our city commissioners are elected at large, meaning that they don’t represent just one part of the city. Hardesty has committed to making sure our local government works for all parts of Portland (especially those parts east of the Willamette River). One of Hardesty’s planned initiatives is to hold city commission meetings all over the city, at times that are more accessible for attendees. Right now those meetings are always in Southwest Portland during the work day, so Hardesty’s proposal may make a real difference for our ability to participate in the governance of our own city.
Certain races fly under the radar in most elections; a county auditor election usually doesn’t make the sort of news that a Congressional race will. The election of Jennifer McGuirk has the potential to drive major changes in Multnomah County. McGuirk’s platform includes using audits to not only improve financial governance in the county but also to discover abuses and inequities in local government. One of her top priorities is an audit of the county jail system, focused on the misuse of force. McGuirk also plans to audit homeless and housing services in the county.
Given the housing crisis here in Portland, the 2018 election’s focus on housing wasn’t surprising. Two ballot measures focusing on funding affordable housing passed: state measure 102 and metro measure 26-199. In short, passing 102 means that local governments in Oregon can partner with non-governmental organizations to build affordable housing projects. Prior to this election, municipal governments were required to retain full ownership of any housing projects they helped fund with government bond money. Basically, 102 simplifies the process of building affordable housing in Oregon.
Metro measure 26-199 also looks at funding affordable housing. Passing both 102 and 26-199 at the same time means that 12,000 people may gain access to affordable housing in the Portland metro area. If 26-199 had passed but 102 had failed, 26-199 would have only funded housing for about 7,500 people. Stacking these two successful initiatives will pay off for the Eliot neighborhood in the long run, creating more homes for members of our community.
What does all this mean for 2020? The next election isn’t as far off as it feels. From discussions on which Oregonians might make a presidential bid to announcements of campaigns for Portland’s mayoral race, members of our community are already working on next year’s election. We’ll be voting for state representative again, as well as for state senator. These races, especially the local races, will impact all of us here in the Eliot neighborhood.
Elected Representatives for Eliot
- Congressional Representative: Earl Blumenauer (503) 231-2300 @repblumenauer
- State Representative Tawna Sanchez 503-986-1443 Rep.TawnaSanchez@oregonlegislature.gov
- State Senator Lew Frederick 503-986-1722 Sen.LewFrederick@oregonlegislature.gov
By Thursday Bram