Why I'm running for Multnomah County Commission

By Mike Delman of Portland, Oregon. Mike is a candidate for Multnomah County Commission, District 3. (Currently held by Commissioner Lisa Naito.) More information at MikeDelman.com

MikedelmanI am deeply honored to run for county commissioner, not because the job is glamorous, but because the county’s policies and programs make a difference in the lives of my family and yours.

My heart and soul is in Multnomah County. I’m passionately committed to causing county government to work better, spend tax dollars more wisely, and make decisions in a more open way.

It’s no secret that our county government is struggling -- to pay its bills, deliver services, and connect with the private sector and citizens. I worked at the county throughout most of the ‘90s, when the elected officials worked well together and provided excellent customer service to citizens. I see no reason why we can’t return to that standard quickly.

County government is feeling the crush of poor spending decisions. It’s time to pull back from the noise and controversy, and the lack of open dialogue. It’s time to focus on solutions.

I have the experience -- from nearly 11 years as an executive assistant to a County Commissioner, and the Multnomah County Sheriff, and in my work at the Multnomah County Department of Aging and Disability services. In addition to my public sector and organized labor experience, I’ve run a small business in downtown Portland, and worked elsewhere in the private sector. Currently, I’m the public affairs director for a non-profit that trains and employs the disabled -- the Portland Habilitation Center.

I helped to originate the Public Safety Coordinating Committee. I lobbied and fought successfully for important state and federal money for Multnomah County. I understand the justice system challenges -- from opening Wapato jail to the management of our jails.

My experience with public education is important to me. Serving as the Fernwood PTA legislative representative, I lobbied local government for increased SUN funding, and lobbied state legislators for increased K-12 money.

The county must create community through positive relationships with neighborhoods, schools and partner governments. I believe in public-private partnerships, too -- which I know from my work helping to bring about McMenamin’s wonderful Kennedy School Project.

Diversity is important in our community. I believe that county government must strive for equality of opportunity. I believe county government needs to care for everyone – not just those “at risk” of failure. County employees and managers need to project an attitude of becoming problem solvers, not simply “putting fires out.” When I worked at the county, our employees were proud to be considered the government of last resort. We had a soul. I think that attitude has been suppressed. I will work to bring it back.

We need to create an effective County Mental Health Program. I propose a reorganization. I will work with developers, planning officials, advocates and non-profits to improve residential mental health facilities. Since the closing of Dammasch, our mentally ill are housed in expensive jail facilities, under our bridges, and wherever they can find a roof. This is unconscionable. The county must commit to changing this paradigm. We need to tackle these programs together, as a community. Our society needs us to do better, to care more about those unable to help themselves.

In our health care system, county money should go where it will do the most good. Coordination between medical facilities, county clinics and OHSU could result in serving more citizens. Duplication of high-cost machines, laundries and food service needs to be minimized. I will also push for increased partnerships between county health clinics and local hospitals -- Kaiser, Providence, Emanuel, OHSU, Adventist and Good Samaritan. For example, the county needs to take the indigent out of costly hospital emergency rooms, and help get them preventive and ongoing care elsewhere. I will fight for universal health care at the State and Federal level.

We are warehousing and recycling people in our county corrections system. We need to come together as a community to provide rational service delivery in the corrections system. Social service providers such as Human Solutions, Cascade Behavioral Health, and Portland Impact can help find alternatives to costly jail cells. Central City Concern, Alcoholics Anonymous and St. Vincent DePaul can design alternatives for alcoholics and drug addicts that help them re-make their lives, escaping the cycle of hopelessness.

The county has successfully created partnerships to help our public education system through the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) programs. Currently these programs are sporadically located in low-income areas. I will strive to implement similar programs at middle-income schools -- schools that also have after-school needs for all students.

I grew up in this community. My wife, Lori, and I, and our two school-age daughters, want the same things you do: a good education system, a strong, healthy economy, and safe, vibrant neighborhoods.

I have contributed as a community activist and volunteer with Multnomah County Health Help, Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism, Save PIL Sports, the Laurelhurst Neighborhood Association, a school volunteer at Laurelhurst and Fernwood, as a mediator for the Victim-Offenders Reconciliation Project (V.O.R.P.) and currently as a member of the Portland Citizens Disability Advisory Committee and the Multnomah County Human Services Budget Advisory Committee.

I have been an active Democratic precinct committeeperson, serving King County in Seattle in 1980- 1982, Washington County 1984-1986 and in Multnomah County since 1988, helping Democratic candidates in every election cycle.

To win this election, I need your help. I need your help in my volunteer, grass-roots organization. Please let me know if you’re interested in volunteering. I’d greatly appreciate your support and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Mike Delman
[email protected]kedelman.com

Comments

  • (Show?)

    I've known Mike for nearly 20 years and am proud to support him for County Commissioner. He's smart and passionate and gets things done. He is not someone that runs to the limelight, but is a hard worker that toils in the trenches to make government work like its supposed to. He'll be a great addition to the County Commission.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    Would you support continued funding for the highly successful, much beloved Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Program? Lisa Naito, along with other Multnomah "Mean Girls," did all they could to kill it outright, and the Commission continues to cut SUN funding (though now with smaller, and less publicly noted, budget bites).

    SUN offers before and afterschool programs in music, art, dance, theatre, science and sports (programs often missing at PPS schools), and fosters strong links with people in the community, who end up caring for and supporting their local schools...

  • Mike Delman (unverified)
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    I strongly support the Schools Uniting Neighborhood (SUN)programs that Multnomah County helps funds in the school districts throughout the county. I also support County Chair Ted Wheeler's effort to analyze where the greatest needs are in the county to place these programs and look for some standardization of benchmarks and goals. SUN provides a terrific link for children at risk and the county should do what they can to minimize that risk.

  • (Show?)

    Mike, you sound like a fine guy, for whom I'd be happy to vote in a general way. But I don't know anything about the rest of the field, or even if there is one, beginning with whether Lisa Naito is running for re-election. Anyone got any more info?

    I'm most impressed with your comments regarding health, corrections (and the implied interrelation) and like that you are an advocate of SUN schools. On both health and corrections I wonder if there is a missing piece about homelessness? Also, on health, I wonder if the efforts you propose could be extended to offer primary care clinics that could give folks who use the emergency room now alternative places to go to get appropriate care from appropriate places? Look at public-private funding from different levels of government, whether hospitals could pitch something in & still save money on reduced inappropriate use of emergency departments?

  • Mike Delman (unverified)
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    You're absolutely correct about bringing the large hosptials such as Providence, Portland Adventist and Legacy into the discussion about providing primary care in partnership with Multnomah County. Currently many unserved and underserved clients go to their emergency care rooms when problems have manifested themselves past primary care needs. Hopefully the numbers would make sense for a partnership with the county to provide more primary care and bring down their costs in their emergency care facilities. Currently there's a great lack of primary care options in the southeast quadrant of the county, since the county SE Health Center closed.

  • (Show?)

    I'm glad to see that Mike supports the analyzing of where the greatest needs are for the SUN program. I'd be interested to see where other candidates stand on this issue.

    With many of the county's poorer residents being pushed further east into David Douglas, Centennial, Reynolds and Gresham-Barlow School Districts, the SUN money has not followed.

    Demographics have changed, and it is important for the county to look at where the greatest needs for the program are and use the limited amount of resources there first.

    My daughter's school is a SUN school. She's only in kindergarten, so we haven't participated in the program yet. But I do look forward to her being able to use it next year.

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    I'd also be interested to hear Mike's thoughts on eastern Multnomah County. I realize it is outside his district; however, as a county commissioner you'd be making decisions on the entire county.

    Much of the problems in our county are being pushed east - poverty, crime, homelessness, and the like. Portland likes to brag on how great it is doing in lowering crime, incomes rising, etc. But what it doesn't talk about is how they've pushed these problems east and that eastern Portland and the cities out this way are seeing some of the biggest crime numbers they've had in quite some time.

    They're also seeing a larger population of people who would be served by the county, such as low income, people with mental health problems, criminals who should be in the county jail, etc.

    I'd like to hear Mike's thoughts on this issue.

    Thanks.

  • David McDonald (unverified)
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    I'd like to know what you think of the front page article in the Sunday Oregonian regarding the abuse of people with developmental disabilities. Most of what was written about occured in Multnomah County.

    Please tell us what you would do about this continued crisis. Seems like most folks either didn't read it or didn't see it as worth discussing.

  • (Show?)

    Chris, the rest of the field has been invited to submit guest columns here. Stay tuned. Next one is coming tomorrow.

  • (Show?)

    Kari:

    Great to hear that. I've been getting a lot of Facebook invites, e-mail invites, etc. and for once I don't think I really know any of the people running for the position. At least those I've gotten messages from thus far anyway.

    I'm looking forward to hearing more on the candidates.

  • Mike Delman (unverified)
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    Regarding the post about abuse of people with DD, I would look into the county and state departments that oversee the programs and contracts that serve people with DD and see what steps toward better collaboration could be negotiated and policies developed so case managers can have a better grasp on how to keep people with DD safe.

    The article you refer to reported on the abuse of people with DD that are being served in foster care homes. This article stems from the abuse cases reported since the closing of Fairview, the institution that cared for people with DD. The state of Oregon DHS department is responsible for inspection and enforcement of these programs statewide. The funding for care workers is woefully low and turnover is very high. Friends and families can help provide safe care for loved ones by bringing abuse allegations forward to state and county officials.

    I currently work for an organization that trains and employs people with disabilities, PHC and also sit on the Portland Citizens Disability Advisory Committee (PCDAC).

  • David McDonald (unverified)
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    Thanks for addressing my question Mike. We need a commissioner who isn't afraid to talk about folks with developmental disabilities. As I'm sure you're aware, these folks are some of the most vulnerable AND underserved citizens in our state.

    I spend a lot of time attempting to educate the general public about their plight. It's not an easy task when the general public is lead to believe they are well provided for. This article from Sunday’s Oregonian is a good jumping off point for beginning to fix the broken system they are living in.

    I've also written about some interaction I had with Legislators regarding the proposed closing of eastern Oregon Training Center back in March of this year... over 7 months before even I was aware of just how bad things really are.

  • Jerold Banks (unverified)
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