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Jessica Vega Pederson leads race for Multnomah County President

Early returns show Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson leading the county presidential race ahead of fellow County Commissioner Sharon Meieran.

Both are vying to replace President Deborah Kafoury, who has held the position since 2014 and has been barred by term limits from standing again.

Jessica Vega Pederson, left, was leading the race against Sharon Meieran to become Multnomah County’s next chief executive.

Courtesy of Candidates/OPB

Vega Pederson finished first in the May primary but could not win the majority needed to avoid a general election. In May, she collected nearly 42% of the vote against 18% for Meieran.

Whoever does not win the election will serve two more years as county commissioner.

The primary function of county government is to provide health and social services, and the Multnomah County Chairman plays a huge role in this. The president heads the board of commissioners, oversees department heads, and sets the multi-billion dollar budget that the board votes on each year. The budget determines spending priorities and the work the county will do that year.

Both Vega Pederson and Meiran are progressive candidates, who have highlighted the need for solutions to the county’s homelessness issues during the campaign. Meieran has been more openly critical of how the current chairman and board have handled the issue so far.

Vega Pederson lost it Willamette Week Approval in Meieran after the primary. Willamette Week applauded Meieran for challenging the status quo in county government.

The outlet also criticized the high price of Vega Pederson preschool for all measurementwhich was passed by voters in 2020. It is Vega Pederson’s highest-profile achievement as commissioner.

Vega Pederson began community work in the Portland area two decades ago as a volunteer with groups like the Sierra Club. In 2012, she became the first Latina to serve in Oregon House. His district as Multnomah County Commissioner includes Southeast and East Portland. She has worked as a technology project manager and is a mother of two.

As commissioner, Meieran did not make an effort on the scale of Vega Pederson preschool for all measurement. However, Meieran sponsored and led the Multnomah County Mental Health System Analysis in 2017, which was used to improve mental health services in the county.

Meieran’s professional experience covers a wide range. She worked for seven years as a civil litigation and intellectual property lawyer. She has also volunteered in child advocacy, family law and as a counselor on a child abuse prevention hotline. She is an emergency physician and homeless volunteer with Portland Street Medicine.

Meieran’s platform has supported the creation of alternative housing, such as micro-villages, while working on permanent housing solutions. She put a focus on increase access to behavioral health services, and public health and safety.

As part of her campaign platform, Vega Pederson said she would fight homelessness by expanding shelter capacity, dramatically increasing the supply of affordable housing and clearing debris from unregulated camps.

She also spoke about expanding the capacity of community organizations to do the work needed to reduce gun violence, domestic violence and the perpetuation of incarceration. She also promised to continue funding the district attorney to ensure the timely investigation and prosecution of gun violence crimes.

Its platform supported climate action, reproductive justice, and mental health and addictions services, among others.

Despite the impact of the role, ads and canvassing of candidates were limited by campaign donation limits approved by voters in 2016.

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