Why I'm for Loretta Smith for Multnomah County

By Tom Markgraf of Portland, Oregon. Tom is a long-time policy advisor and nonprofit organizer. In May 2010, Tom was a candidate for Multnomah County Commission, District 2.

I am supporting Loretta Smith for Multnomah County Commission. I have worked with her for almost two decades. She has compassion, experience and community connections.

Loretta cares about the people who Multnomah County serve: the indigents, the down and out, the mentally ill.

When I worked for Congressman Blumenauer and she worked for Senator Wyden we teamed together dozens of times to secure funding for projects that aren’ t flashy. She fought for extra dollars for child health care and well-baby clinics. She worked to bring dentistry to poor people. If you can’ t see a dentist, it leads to other problems that lead to more costly treatment and sometimes death. These are the people Multnomah County serves. She gets it.

Loretta understands land use. Remembers the Sauvie Island Bridge? When the County Commission made their desperate calls for help, she helped break a record getting a $5 million appropriation that patched the bridge, keeping it open.

That was important because in Oregon land use law, when an infrastructure breakdown makes an island’ s designated land use no longer possible, that farm land can become something else….like housing. What a loss if Sauvie Island had become tract housing. She helped preserve that treasure.

She is a single mom who has first hand experience with the programs and support systems to help youth. She sought programs like SEI to help keep her son on the straight and narrow and knows how they can help.

Having someone with that experience is what the County could use. Loretta has been there and knows the struggle. She will be the voice of experience for women who are walking the same path. Her son is an outstanding young man, now in his junior year in college. She knows how to help single mothers and their children succeed.

Finally, her connections to the minority community are real. Representing Ron Wyden and living as an active citizen, she has been a part of the North and Northeast community her entire adult life.

Those professional and personal relationships are essential to working with the community. We want a Commissioner with those relationships. Not one who is hoping for on-the-job training.

Loretta Smith is the right choice for Multnomah County Commission. She’ s a new voice. Not an echo.

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    A passionate opinion, Mr. Markgraf! And your reasons for supporting Ms. Smith are many of the same reasons I am supporting Karol Collymore for Multnomah County Commissioner. I so value Karol Collymore's connections across multiple minority communities; her work as an active citizen and activist; and her personal and professional relationships in government (working at Multnomah County), the nonprofit sector and more.

    New voices are so important. Which is why I want Karol Collymore as my fresh, new voice and representation as Multnomah County Commissioner.

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    I hate to lose at anything but it wasn't hard to get over being crushed in the primary election last May for Multnomah County Commissioner. That's because voters advanced two outstanding individuals to compete in a run-off this November. Multnomah County residents are fortunate to have a choice between good progressive candidates who care about the future of our neighborhoods, schools and county-run programs.

    As the general election nears, I've decided to vote for Loretta Smith, a 20-year veteran of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden's staff and a longtime resident of N/NE Portland where her family roots run deep.

    Ms. Smith and I don't agree on every issue. We disagree, for example, on the impact the Columbia River Crossing will have. But I've never voted based on single issues. What I want in elected officials are smart people who think critically. Ms. Smith is that kind of leader. In her campaign she has shown an ability to bridge divides and build coalitions. She doesn't close the door on those she disagrees with. Instead, she invites people in and seeks common ground. We share the same basic values.

    As Senator Wyden's long-time liaison to Multnomah County, she knows the issues, people, businesses and neighborhoods. She cares deeply about the people of Multnomah County and how our local government functions. Based on her experience, shared accomplishments and proven dedication to the community in which she raised her son, I will cast my ballot for Loretta Smith.

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