Quick RJ Look at Primary Election for Mult Co Seat #2

Update 3/27/2010 – I met face-to-face with Roberta Phillip last week, comments below.

A quick political observation and a few racial justice related comments.

The race for Multnomah County Seat #2 covering most of N/NE Portland is going to be hot, multicultural, and will almost certainly result in a run-off.  For folks of color, immigrants and refugees, this represents one of the few elected seats where our communities have enough political power to elect someone in relationship with our growing diverse populations.  The seat has been held by a progressive white guy Jeff Cogen who gets rave reviews for everything from his policy making to his hiring of Karol Collymore.  Previously Serena Cruz held the seat, who won it through serious grassroots organizing (remember Cruz Points anyone?) in a significant community development for the Latino Community.  Serena left the commission to go into building contracting with her husband, scion of megabuilder Walsh Construction.

The political dominoes that fell when Governor Kulongoski appointed Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler to the State Treasurer post upon Ben Westlunds’ death has been intense.  Jeff Cogen is now running for Multnomah County Chair, with hefty support from former Chair Bev Stein and former US Senate candidate Steve Novik.  With Cogen’s commission seat #2 now open, the list of folks who are running is impressive.  Here are a few quick hits on a few candidates:

  • Karol Collymore is highly praised for her work as a Cogen aide, and her Democratic party and women’s organizing in New Mexico and Oregon.  She was a finalist for the House 43 and Senate 22 appointments.   She is African-American, involved in lots of cool GOTV activities, and is a regular contributor to BlueOregon.com and even talks about racial justice issues.
  • Chuck Currie is a legendary housing and homeless activist, who worked closely with City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury.  He is now a UCC minister (same year as me!), family man with twins, and moved from Westside to Eastside to settle down around Parkrose.  Currie has a fairly famous civic and religious blog.  He is a white guy who has addressed racial justice concerns and whiteness.
  • Gary Hansen is a former commissioner running again for office.   Older white guy who I have no idea of his racial politics, but I’m sure is really nice and formidable because of his past experience.
  • Roberta Phillip who recently left the Crittendon Foundation and serves as Board Chair of Pangea Project, became more widely known when a group of African American civic leaders endorsed her over Joann Bowman and Chip Shields for the open Senate 22 seat last year.  Seems relatively unknown within communities of color and no idea about her racial justice perspective. UPDATE 3/27/2010: Had a really nice tea with Roberta, learned more of her background and work here in Portland, including: 1) Creating Mentor Program at POIC that lives on with over 70 youth; 2) Community relations and interest in increasing accountability with communities of color with Chair Wheeler; 3) Long-term commitment to the future of Oregon.  She is an immigrant from Trinidad, grew up in NYC, and really just a thoughtful focused person.
  • Irma Linda Castillo I’ve never heard of, at least I don’t think, is a 14 year Multnomah County worker who cites diversity training in her filing statement.  Educated in California.  Would love to hear from her!
  • Maria Rubio used to work for Mayor Tom Potter on public safety issues among other things.  Is mother to new Latino Network Executive Director Carmen Rubio, and I think was even in the Emerge Oregon program for women candidates, although I could be wrong.  I saw her at a recent Office of Multicultural Health legislative forum, and she indicated she has been doing consulting since Sam Adams took office.  I imagine her analysis is sharp given what I know and love of Carmen’s vision and work.

There are several other candidates who I don’t know who may be amazing, although I think the general election will be two folks from this list.


One response to “Quick RJ Look at Primary Election for Mult Co Seat #2

  1. I’m really excited by Paul van Orden. He’s one of the other candidates. I believe his experience in mediation will be a great asset to the county. He has a wonderful ability in empowering all sides in a struggle and then working to a successful compromise where all parties feel heard. He is humble, tireless, and deeply motivated.

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