Tom Markgraf: Why I'm Running for Multnomah County Commission

By Tom Markgraf of Portland, Oregon. Tom is a candidate for Multnomah County Commission, District 2. You can find out more about Tom on his website, TomMarkgraf.com

I am running for the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners because, more than at any other point in my life, we are at a critical juncture for the qualities we value most in our region: livability, good jobs, the environment, and the health and safety of our citizens.

In a time of economic downturn and crumbling infrastructure, we need the type of leadership that can balance the needs of repairing our streets and our ethical duty to protect our most vulnerable citizens. I am running for the County Commission because I can offer skills and experiences that build coalitions and strike this careful balance.

I care deeply about Multnomah County, and for good cause: it has been my home for nearly my entire life. I was born and raised in Portland, attending Fernwood Elementary (now Beverly Cleary School) and Central Catholic High School. After graduating from Oberlin College I received my master’s degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, where I studied under former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

After finishing graduate school, I returned home and began my career in public service, working under Don Clark at Central City Concern. I managed the building of Transitions Projects’ Homeless Shelter, working with dedicated individuals like Jean DeMaster. Transition Projects still operates there, housing men and women in a safe, alcohol and drug free environment.

I continued my interest in aiding the mentally ill by serving the community on the board of Mental Health Services West for nearly a decade, during which we started Project Respond to help downtown businesses react humanely and safely to the mentally ill, and worked to teach the City of Portland’s Police Bureau how best to identify and react to situations involving the mentally ill -curriculum that would be as timely, relevant, and necessary again today as it was then.

In addition to my work with Transitions Projects and Mental Health Services West, I also served on the board for Outreach on Burnside, which serves the elderly and mentally ill in Old Town/China Town.

While bringing vital resources to vulnerable citizens is a big part of Multnomah County’s charge, helping people gain access to family wage jobs and economic success is just as important. It’s always hard to help families safe-guard resources, and especially so during an economic downfall. A time-proven way to start turning this crisis around is investing in infrastructure. Infrastructure projects, such as funding for transportation improvements, has always been a good way to create strong jobs while improving efficiency, providing multi-modal transportation options, and strengthening our neighborhoods and community.

Perhaps more than any candidate in the race, I have a strong set of transportation skills and background working on projects right here in Multnomah County. I have worked on building community support for major local projects, such as Interstate Max, Eastside Street Car, Milwaukie Max and Airport Max.

For nearly a decade I was Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s senior advisor on transportation, working to get Oregon’s transportation priorities funded in Congress. I understand the complexities involved in both the local side and the federal side of garnering funding for vital transportation projects. I know what it will take to get the Federal funds needed to rebuild the Sellwood Bridge.

We have a choice among a great field of applicants for this position. While the large candidate pool offers an array of skills and perspectives, I believe that my lifetime of community experience and deep roots in Multnomah County differentiate me from the others.

All of the candidates running for this position will speak about the importance of mental health services, but I would happily put my record up against anybody’s. All of the candidates will talk about transportation, but I have the specific experience necessary to navigate the complexities of the process and put people to work. All of the candidates will talk about economic development, but I have experience working in the private sector, meeting a payroll, and creating jobs that support our economy and environment.

Multnomah County is at a critical point, and I asking for your vote to help me continue serving the public by bringing my passion for the community and relevant experience to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Dude, If I lived in Multnomah County, I'd totally vote for you.

    Tough field though..............

  • AngieH (unverified)
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    This is a large field of candidates, but it is nice when one stands out as well as Tom does. He has lived in this particular County district for nearly his entire life, and his public service background is well suited for the County. It can be hard to find qualified commissioners for the County because of the diverse array of services provided by counties (mental health, transportation, public health, patrol, corrections, and the economy) as evidenced by the group that was in there before Ted Wheeler was elected. Tom is one of the few people in Portland who has experience working in nearly every service area. His experience will be a huge boost to Multnomah County, and his relationships in the district will make him an excellent liaison to the community.

  • Eric Chambers (unverified)
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    I have known Tom Markgraf for almost a decade, and he is absolutely the best of the best out there. His passion for public service, progressive Portland values, strong background in mental health and transportation, and deep connections to the community will make him a tremendous commissioner. Tom is the type of candidate that still gets me excited!

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    I was born and raised in Portland, attending Fernwood Elementary (now Beverly Cleary School) and Central Catholic High School

    Do you currently attend and donate money to a Catholic Church? If not - great!

    However, if you do, how do you justify continued financial support for an organization whose leaders ought to be arrested for crimes (and for covering up crimes, and for aiding and abetting new crimes) against children?

    How do you justify continued support for an organization that works to limit healthcare options for women, erase civil rights for gays and lesbians, dumb down science curricula in the public schools, etc..?

    I do realize that most Catholics like to absolve themselves of all personal responsibility for the abhorrent, and often criminal behavior that their continued participation, and collection plate contributions, directly support...

    But I think someone's failure to address their own complicity in maintaining an "objectively disordered" organization like the Catholic Church is relevant to the approach they might take in confronting issues as a commissioner...

  • (Show?)

    Are you now or have you ever been......?

  • Just Saying (unverified)
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    “ I understand the complexities involved in both the local side and the federal side of garnering funding for vital transportation projects.”

    Like the financially unself-sustainable Portland Streetcar that only creates more congestion on city streets, sucks transportation dollars away from maintaining roads, and where the riders do not even pay for the costs of operation, thereby adding to an ongoing public debt; and where the public is still being deceived into thinking the streetcar stimulates development when in fact it is other taxpayer funded subsidies handed out directly to developers along the route that actually provides the incentives – all so that the government can control the type and density of the development that occurs.

    “I know what it will take to get the Federal funds needed to rebuild the Sellwood Bridge.”

    Like directly charging the bicyclists for their overly-generous share of the proposed new bridge and infrastructure instead of just expecting local vehicle owners and water service ratepayers to subsidize the parasite bicyclist community.

  • Kurt Hagadakis (unverified)
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    So, "just saying" has been Terry Parker. "Parasite"? Talk about the lamprey calling the leach a sucker!

    I'm glad someone is raising some of these unpleasant issues.

  • Kurt Hagadakis (unverified)
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    Posted by: Pat Ryan | Mar 29, 2010 6:59:03 PM

    Are you now or have you ever been......?

    Oh, read what he actually wrote.

    Do you currently attend and donate money to a Catholic Church? If not - great!

    ATTEND...DONATE...are behaviors! ARE you now or have you ever BEEN is about identity. "If not - great"...read "don't care about your identity, just behavior".

    Now let me guess that Oregon Bill is a Dem. I have claimed for 5 years that Dems look the other way and condone anything the Catholic Church does, because they are a large part of the Dem base, and that totally undercuts their ability to take the moral high ground on ANY issue. You have a well-behaved, regular contributor mention it in PURELY BEHAVOURAL TERMS, and he is immediately ridiculed by Dem realpolitik and political correctness.

    I suppose we're not supposed to notice how many of those in the immediate line of Presidential seccession, at the moment, are practicing Catholics. And don't tell me it doesn't affect how you do your job. Still spitting over a major HCR vote being held up while Nelson waited on the Council of Catholic Bishops to approve wording in his ammendment.

    This is also germaine to the local contests, and a certain BO contributor's candidacy. Perhaps she would like to lay out the "practicing Catholic but not guilty of participating in their numerous heinous promotions" position. At the very least, your allowing Dems to distance themselves from the Church, while practicing, is the hight of hypocrisy, given that you identify friends of friends of friends of TEA protestors as being "teabaggers". Fine. By that logic, "Dems hang out with paedophiles". "Dems are intimately connected with a group that preaches that GLBT lifestyles will be the end of human life on the planet".

    You recently had your one trick pony prancing about because a guy that attented a TEA protest didn't edit what unaffiliated associates put on his blog. It was no different than if a right winger posted an article about "what the hell are those Dems thinking", and only used qutoes from the Pope and Curia cardinals. Which way is it? Are you responsible for the company you keep, or not?

  • No CRC (unverified)
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    Tom, that's a nice piece. But your current work is pushing the CRC Megabridge - something that will harm the health of people in District 2, by causing increased pollution (congestion caught at the I-5 I-84 interchange, and pollution from construction).

    Why didn't you talk about that? Are you proud of that work, or hiding it from potential voters who are progressive and know the CRC is a step back on climate change and sustainable communities?

  • (Show?)

    At the very least, your allowing Dems to distance themselves from the Church, while practicing, is the hight of hypocrisy, given that you identify friends of friends of friends of TEA protestors as being "teabaggers"

    Don't use the second person singular on me. I quit calling them "teabaggers" at exactly the same time as they quit calling themselves teabaggers. My only comment on the topic in a post I put up was that it was kinda funny that they were doing it and that they were unacquainted with the Urban dictionary.

    Since then, I've argued to liberals, that calling them teabaggers was poor political strategy as many in the group are serious people with serious concerns. Go to my post on the Scott Brown victory for a recent example.

    As for whether Markgraf or Kollymore (or whoever) are Catholics and should be means tested base on donations, I think the whole argument is a lot overwrought.

  • Alex T (unverified)
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    Is this the same Tom Markgraf who's consulting firm has received over $900,000 (in tax payer money, no less) to lobby in favor of the 12-lane Columbia River Crossing?

    Hopefully not, because that alone ought to be enough to disqualify someone for holding the District Two seat, if not in ethics laws, at least in the eyes of the electorate.

  • Kurt Hagadakis (unverified)
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    Don't use the second person singular on me

    It was plural. Can't you tell? Seriously, English can suck at times.

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    As for whether Markgraf or Kollymore (or whoever) are Catholics and should be means tested base on donations, I think the whole argument is a lot overwrought.

    A poster on Gawker.com says it best (but is hardly the only one asking this question)... How could anyone donate anything at all to an organization like this...?

    "What I don't understand is how anyone could still consider themselves Catholics in the face of this.

    One or two incidences in a vast, moneyed, unwieldy organization means bad apples. $2 billion dollars paid out in the U.S. alone to abused victims (most of whom were CHILDREN) of these "men of God" with hundreds (and countless thousands in the past) more emerging around the world means something is seriously fucked in the midget state of Vatican.

    The CEO, an ex-Nazi in Prada boots, is complicit in allowing a man who abused 200 DEAF CHILDREN for decades to live out "the dignity of his days" — unmolested, by, you know, law enforcement. Because he had "repented" — whatever that means when you are morally bankrupt — and his health was failing in a way it should have long ago had there actually been a benevolent God.

    It's just mind-boggling to me. These are supposed to be the most sacred people — the most holy — the most trustworthy — the most good. They are your direct line to the Lord. And they are fucking the small children.

    How could one believe in any earthly manifestation of "religion" after that? How? I genuinely want to know."

    http://gawker.com/5506759/comment-of-the-day-how-are-you-still-catholic

  • Kurt Hagadakis (unverified)
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    It's not like the Catholic Church doesn't get itself daily involved in local politics. Oh, look. Here they are, messing with local gov, fighting for the right to commit health care fraud!

  • Oregon Bill (unverified)
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    It's not like the Catholic Church doesn't get itself daily involved in local politics.

    Exactly. And the Archdiocese of Portland, which draws its money from parishioners at Holy Redeemer, St. Andrews, and other "liberal" parishes favored by "progressive Dems," was also among the top financial contributors to Measure 36...

    ** Isn't it legitimate to ask whether Mr. Markgraf or Ms. Collymore STILL give any money - any money at all - to the Catholic Church?

    If they do, their money is used by the Archdiocese to fund efforts to deny basic civil rights to gay and lesbian Oregonians, undermine women's health care options, and pay out massive legal penalties for utterly indefensible, appalling abuse..

    Not exactly "liberal" or "progressive"

    <h2>So how is it that continued financial support of the Catholic Church, knowing today what we know about its activities, gets a pass from so many Blue Oregon Democrats..?</h2>
  • (Show?)

    As a gay man who had a pedophile teacher while attending a public grade school, I would like to point out that public schools currently pose a greater risk to children by pedophiles than was ever the case in the Catholic Church.

    Pedophiles are attracted to work with children and are far more attracted to public school teaching positions than to the Catholic priesthood. Let's be honest here. Public schools still today cover up cases and reassign suspected pedophiles.

    The Catholic Church has paid dearly for the offenses of tiny few bad priests and bishops who didnt know what to do with them. My pedophile teacher taught right up until his retirement a few years ago unscathed. While the Catholic schools and churches have done everything possible to protect children, sadly the same is not true for the public schools. It is illegal to sue the public schools, so their misdeeds remain unchecked.

    To get a taste of what I'm talking about see: http://www.academia.org/public-schools-recycle/

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