Well, after much discussion (too much?) the day has finally come when the Multnomah County Commission will appoint the next State Representative for HD-43. They'll choose among Karol Collymore, Lew Frederick, and Eddie Lincoln. (Or they could decide to punt, and send the decision to the Governor - though that's highly unlikely.)
I'll be doing a liveblog with highlights of the meeting. This isn't a transcript, so don't quote verbatim. (I'm a blogger, not a court reporter.)
If the process goes as before, they'll have opening statements, then questions, then they'll vote. The whole thing gets underway at 10:30 a.m. You can also watch it live here.
10:30 a.m. And we're underway. The process they'll use will be the same process as SD-22. They've drawn a random order for speaking. Five minute openings, then questions in a rotating order.
10:33 a.m. Lincoln: I'm thankful to be here. This is a historic moment for me. I've lived and worked in HD-43 almost my entire life. Like so many young people, I made it through college by working. I learned this community as a Tri-Met driver. While working for a family-owned janitorial business, I cleaned floors. Small minority business owners struggle with loans today. My wife and I have two sons raised in Portland Public Schools. As an active parent, I saw class sizes swell. Our streets are full of students who have been overlooked. While working at Urban League and PCC, I have spent years teaching Portlanders job and life skills. More and more families struggle to get jobs and access higher education. It's time to do something about it. It's time to restore faith in government. This last session I saw what bold and progressive leadership can do. Much can be done when lawmakers have will and courage. My life has been blessed, but times are tougher for our families. I am seeking this appointment because it's time for me to give back. I can never repay what the residents of HD-43 have done for me; but this is time for me to work to repay that debt. My promise is for those who fought before me that I will fight for them. I'm not a politician, but I'm a union leader. I don't work in politics, but I've worked to elect Obama and defeat Sizemore.
10:39 a.m. Collymore: I'm proud to follow in the footsteps who have been in this seat before me - Jo Ann Bowman, Chip Shields, Deborah Kafoury. Kafoury was the same age that I am now. Here's what I've done in my current position. We now have a farm. Cell-phone recycling program. Brand new farmers market. Domestic violence one-stop center. State law on menu labeling. Personally, I took a team from Hands On to New Orleans and Biloxi. I've helped raise money for small nonprofits. And hey, I was a Pie Commissioner for the pie-off! I can lead successful projects and work in collaboration. What's also different is that I'm a 31-year-old woman with a desire to represent the young people who want to serve. Leadership should be about representing our community. My goals: protect human services funding, improve education and mentorship programs, ensure equal distro of funds, work on pre-emption problems, and on issues of civil rights. Much has been made of my time and experience. I haven't lived here as long, but I have experience working for this community.
10:44 a.m. Frederick: I know this community, and I want to continue to work for this community. You've seen my resume. Here's how my background relates. Communication takes time and a commitment to exchange ideas. I've brought adults together with fifth-graders to talk about their futures. As a reporter, I knew there was a lot on the line. I advocated in the newsroom for honesty. As a PPS communicator, I knew it was about relationships. Three years after leaving, I still get questions. As a candidate, I learned a lot on the doorstep. Must ask, repeatedly. Must keep grounding. As a state board of education member, I've learned a lot about the state. I've been lobbied by special interests - relentlessly. I feel your pain. I've learned the value of an independent information source. Good decisions require homework. Question conventional wisdom. Have humility. I have a good idea of who to ask when I need more info. Govt moves slowly, but I'm impatient to get started. We face challenges on taxes, economics, health, education, environmental. That's why I gave you a specific legislative agenda. All 90 members of the Lege must be prepared by February. It helps that I know these people. I'm grateful for the support of the PCPs. I'll be a champion for the county.
Now, on to the questions...
10:49 a.m. Wheeler: If appointed, what's the first piece of legislation you would introduce and why? Lincoln: Divert the kicker to the rainy day fund. Need solid revenue source. Collymore: I agree with Lincoln. Divert the kicker. I also would work on the BPA reduction in children's products. BPA is toxic, and many groups are working on that. Frederick: Economic security. Need bills that take large govt contracts into small contracts that keep jobs local.
10:53 a.m. Kafoury: At Mult Co, we want to remove pre-emptions by the state and advocate against new pre-emptions. Your position? Collymore: Pre-emption is frustrating. For instance, on tobacco tax, it failed statewide but passed in the county. Would have been nice to do it at the county level. Dollars we send to state come back at 70 cents. My personal experience is on menu-labeling. We want to do what's best for the county. I'm happy it went statewide, but we should have been able to implement it sooner. Frederick: The big ones are M5 and M47/50. We must address those. Philosophy: county should have the ability to say to local citizens, here's what we want to do. Also, issues related to alcohol, real estate transfer tax, tobacco tax [one more I missed.] Lincoln: Mostly it's about revenue shortages. Sort of an eminent domain thing. Stability in revenues statewide would allow the state to release pre-emptions. Cogen: Are you saying you don't support pre-emptions until state gets fiscal order? Lincoln: No, but revenues are scarce.
10:57 a.m. Cogen: In last session, Lege passed tax increases that are now being referred to the ballot. If defeated, there will be a $800 million budget shortfall. How would you address that? Frederick: First, fight to pass those measures. Tough situation. Prioitize: safety, young people, frail, economic development. Time for us to take case to public - here's what you want. Not equally bad. Need to look at all forms of revenue. Lincoln: Would hate to think these will fail. Our union is calling and knocking on doors for Yes vote. Devastating to fail. We'd make tough decisions - populations who least afford it, would suffer. State and county would make tough cuts. Hold harmless those that are most vulnerable. My mother counts on the support. Homeless would increase. Those without food and shelter. Collymore: Hope they pass. But if they don't, we need to appreciate that it'll be $1 billion - not $733 million by then. Won't have benefit of federal refunds back to us. Need to talk about local control and allow counties to raise revenue. Need to focus on kicker reform for rainy day fund. While not the most popular option, we need to bring biz interests back to table and do it one more time.
11:01 a.m. Shiprack: Oregon one of few states that spends more on prisons than on higher education. What's the proper balance? Lincoln: Complex issue. It's about early childhood education. Hopelessness in small children and teens leads to trouble. Numbers are radically increasing. Education funding, controlling class sizes, preparing for global economy would have opposite effect. Long-term issue. Economy is driving misbehaving. There's a value for both, but I'll take a close look. Collymore: Central problem is prisoners with mental health and drug abuse problems. Jail not a place for mental health problems or most people with drug and alcohol addiction. Address this first. Second, we let people out of jail without resources to help them and they reoffend. We need probation programs that move people to being successful. Third, help people get started earlier in life. Mentions WW story on equal funding for schools. Frederick: 80% of people in jails are mental health and addiction issues. Treatment must be the primary approach. If goal is to lock up, we're doing a find job. If goal is to prevent crime, we need to work on treatment. AG Kroger talks about this. Must work on treatment. Let's look at Wapato Jail as a transition site for treatment.
11:08 a.m. McKeel: Economics. What's the biggest challenge getting people back to work? How to grow businesses in Oregon? Collymore: Biggest challenge is that we are a resource-based economy. Need to think about a different way to create jobs. How do we transition from resource-based to green economy? States and locals have responsibility to create workforce opportunities. Mercy Corps and its micro-lending programs. Here at county, we gave money to Hacienda to help small business grow. People can do well for themselves. Doesn't have be grand scale projects. Business incubators. Long term, need to focus on schools. Big biz won't move to shortest school year in the country. Focus on transporation, green economy. Frederick: First thing is to support small businesses, esp. as it relates to large govt projects. Need bite-sized pieces. Keep money in Oregon and in Portland. Saw this happen with TriMet. Need ODOT to stop outsourcing to large bureaucratic companies. Workforce development. Green jobs programs are excellent, but need to get to people who are unemployed. Need communication effort. Jobs in the trades are important and they pay well. Lincoln: Pass the tax fairness measures in January. Then, retrain those who are laid off, moving from one industry to green tech industry. Improve our educational systems. Make Oregon attractive to employers. Support legislation for small business. Lines of credit, technical assistance, manage growth. Divide up big contracts.
11:14 a.m. Wheeler: Question from Twitter - what should the Lege role be in health care, if any? Frederick: Oh my. The health care reform debate is not an academic debate. Very personal. Basic concept: I would like to see a national single-payer system. Frees up workers comp system, since all get treatment. State level: need a strong program that covers all public employees, not using private insurance companies. Lincoln: State has a role. Support single-payer system. Remove layer of bureaucracy and costs. That's a big debate. I've traveled to DC to talk to our members of Congress. Folks in Salem have work to do. Good work on insuring children in Oregon. Must take a step further. Collymore: The Lege did a great job on the hospital tax and insurance tax. The state can focus on preventitive care. Reproductive care and screenings. Will help cut costs down the line. Bring back daily PE in schools. Incentives for joining gyms. You know how much I love the gym! Menu labeling is important, know what you're putting in your mouth. 1 in 5 women don't get prenatal care in Oregon. That's never OK.
11:19 a.m. Kafoury: You will face an issue that your constituents disagree with you on. How will you handle that? Lincoln: I want to hear from my constituents. Want that education. I'd reach out for it. Part of the job. Keep communication open. I'd advocate for their positions. Collymore: I have been an advocate and an activist. I know the power of talkin to legislators. Two things I won't be swayed on: right to choose and equality of LGBT rights. Other than that, I'm open to hearing other points of view. To represent is to listen. But you must also lead. There are a lot of people who don't agree on LGBT, but that's a place where I have to lead. Always want to debate, but lead when you must lead. Frederick: All my life. Must stand up to say how you feel, and communicate that. I can bring messages from the community to decision-makers. On state board of ed, get lots of lobbying. At PPS, heard from everyone you can imagine. Communication to and from constituents is how I work. No problem saying, "I disagree and this is why." Also no problem saying, "This is what my constieuents want."
11:24 a.m. Cogen: What's the biggest challenge facing HD-43? Collymore: The biggest problem is school equity, specifically Jefferson HS - and Roosevelt HS. Education is a conundrum. Folks want to move here, but not send their kids to school here. Pockets of race and class division. We're showing kids that they're not good enough. Must rebuild neighborhood school system. I'll advocate, even if can't affect legislatively. I remember where school felt like home. Bring that back. Frederick: Biggest issue is economic security. But that's not just about contracts and stuff, it's about housing, schools, etc. Take a back seat to no one on education. Been a champion. What are the next steps? Bring equity. Things have been taken apart in N/NE PDX. Read the WW story. We must give kids a look at the trades. Not just about being professionals. Lincoln: Economic security is the big issue. Home prices are also a big issue. We've seen prices rise dramatically. Employment training is a major issue. Economic development means bringing businesses into the neighborhood. Swan Island, Frieghtliner. Create options for residents.
11:30 a.m. Shiprack: Please comment on workforce housing, density, affordable housing, etc. Frederick: Just finished a report for the PDC. People in N/NE PDX want workforce housing. Need a system so people live near work. Clear issue. Don't want big developments. Human-sized. Series of 1500 brownfields in N/NE. Empty spaces for housing or businesses. No concerted effort at the state. Two blocks away from house, a vacant brownfield for 20 years due to contamination. Lincoln: So many variables. Businesses are looking to move into the neighborhood, and looking for abatements. Subsidies are a way to secure housing for families in HD-43. I'd need to look into this a bit more closely. Collymore: I support subsidies for affordable and workforce housing. Supports 20-minute livable neighborhoods. Reduce use of cars, increase transit. I don't own a car. Live two miles from here. When I first lived here, I lived in a subsidized apartment building until I could afford my own house. Helps avoid alienation, since it's close to downtown core.
11:37 a.m. McKeel: Business retention. What is the role of the state legislator to retain important businesses? Lincoln: Has a responsibility to show that state is an attractive place to do business. Must build high quality educational system. Focus on land. Tax structure. All important. The legislator must always sell the state. Employers are looking to have workers that have a quick learning curve. Reduce training expenses. Collymore: Tell a story! New Seasons Market has been trying for years to open a place on Hawthorne, but couldn't get a loan. A bit silly as sucessful as they are. Banks aren't lending. Must encourage banks to start loaning. I'm supporting Senator Shields' bill on higher accountability on TARP funds. Frederick: The TARP funds need to move. Also, role of legislator is to find a way to support businesses that are already here. Partnerships on education, local govt. Must know the state and how things work together. I know the state. Dealt with economies of various cities and counties. Find the strengths and weaknesses. If there are environmental issues, we need to look at those. We can solve them. Get support for education. Important tool for business retention.
11:43 a.m. We've now done two rounds of questions. Time for a vote. Statements... Kafoury: Why do I have to go first? :) All three did a great job today and in your lives. Thank the PCPs who voted and sent us three amazing and well-qualified candidates. I represented HD-43 in the Lege for three terms. Active and engaged community. All three of you can do this well. The stories of this community aren't often told. Before I was in the Lege, I helped start X-PAC. [Calls me out.] One of our goals was to get young people, especially women,
in the audience into politics. And we need more young women in the Lege. Kafoury votes for Collymore.
Cogen: Growing up in Miami FL, it was rare for us to even have one good candidate. Some have said we should rubberstamp the PCPs choice. I disagree. It's our job to select among the 3-5 candidates they gave us. Which makes our decision very difficult. Also, I want to address something: Karol works for me. Some people have said I should recuse myself. I've consulted the county attorney. This is not a conflict of interest. There's no financial benefit to me or my family. Many of my friends have advised me to recuse myself, so I wouldn't have to make this tough decision. This is difficult, but that's why I was elected - to make a tough decision. Among these candidates, this was very tough. Lew was my opponent when I ran for this seat. Our campaign wasn't negative and focused on the issues. Got to know each other very well. Have tremendous admiration for Lew. Lots of positive feelings and respect. Deep connection to the district. Value of knocking on doors. Your experience at PPS and with state party is very valuable. We met at a Howard Dean meetup. You would be a great state rep. Eddie, I didn't know you before, but I've been very impressed. Especially focus on education. Leadership at PCC and in your union. Knowledge of issues and collective bargaining. Karol, has worked for me for three years. I've seen accomplishments on specific policies. Made things happen. Food policies, surplus land program, cell phone recycling, Kenton library, creation of St. John's farmers market, domestic violence one-stop program. Tremendous leadership. The pie-off was a laugh line, but it was a tremendous community-building effort. Innovative and important. Leadership with Hands On Portland, designed to find innovative approaches. 21st century communications strategies to bring people together. Would engage a new generation of people in the process. Cogen votes for Collymore.
Shiprack: This really isn't a fun choice. Everyone is a winner, but this panel can't win. As a former legislator: My district played a part in the fabric of the state. Due to the way that I and others were able to exercise personal skills with each other and beyond to rural parts of the state. We worked for the whole state. We have a no-lose choice today. Who knows HD-43 best? Also, will decide on access to leadership. Kafoury has hit on one thing - access for women. Another one is about where you start and where the path can end up. Send a strong message to residents of the district. If I start being an activist, where will it take me? I've never been lobbied on any issue more strongly than on this. A little bit out of proportion. Kudos to each of you. Shiprack votes for Frederick.
McKeel: No doubt that HD-43 will be well-served. Karol, always great to work with you. Great energy, and have seen what you can do. Your future is bright. Eddie, your devotion to your community is incredible. Tireless work for education. Help training people has gone a long way. Lew, your experience is admirable. Your work at PPS and state board has greatly helped children. Your involvement with community keeps you in tune. McKeel votes for Frederick.
Wheeler: I don't think this is a difficult choice. Want Eddie's humility, Karol's charisma, and Lew's dedication. To be serious: This should not be our decision, but we'll do our duty. This is very personally difficult. This should not be the end of any of your aspirations. Each of you should run for this office in the primary. The person who holds this office will be the one who persuades the citizens. The citizens have not yet spoken. Want to respect the work of the PCPs. Great slate of candidates. The most significant issue facing county and state is acknowledging that we are a poor state. High rates of hunger, homelessness, poverty, etc. This is not healthy. I was very impressed with two answers. Karol gave best answer on social justice and human rights. Lew gave best answer on economic development. That's the most important issue. Wheeler votes for Frederick.
By a vote of 3-2, it's Lew Frederick. Motion. Seconded. All in favor, aye. Congrats to Lew Frederick.
Lew Frederick: I know the district and the district knows me. I am overwhelmed by your support. Thank you. We will be working together to rebuild the county and the district. A lot of work ahead of us.