Candidates for Multnomah County Commission - District 3

A questionnaire was sent to candidates in the Portland-metro region, and below are the responses in regard to issues that are important to the Alliance and the business community.

* indicates Alliance endorsed candidate.

1. The Allianceís primary focus for the 2016 election cycle will be to support those candidates and ballot measure proponents who clearly and publicly join us in opposing IP 28, the gross receipts tax measure, which will be so detrimental to Oregonís economy. What is your position on IP28?
Jessica Vega Pederson* I support efforts to increase our state revenue and make sure out of state corporations pay their fair share. In general, I believe the legislative process may be better suited than a ballot measure for these discussions.
2. Portland State University (PSU), part of the stateís higher education system, is considering a tax on payroll within the Portland region that they project will raise between $30 and $70 million to support PSU. What is your view on a potential regional payroll tax on employers to fund PSU?
Jessica Vega Pederson* While funding education is something I fully support, I believe we should look to statewide funding solutions for all of our public universities, as well as early childhood through high school. I donít support a solution that gives preference to one school over the others.
3. The Value of Jobs Coalition's 2015 Middle-Income Jobs Report found that Portland-metro, like most of the nation, has seen low- and high-income jobs account for increasingly larger shares of the regionís overall employment base, while middle-income jobs, as a share of the regionís total employment, have dropped from 69 percent in 1980 to 57 percent in 2013. What would you do to increase the number of middle-income jobs in our region?
Jessica Vega Pederson* Middle-income jobs have always been the foundation of the American dream. One of the best ways to increase the amount of middle-income jobs in our area is through the prioritization of education and training for middle income jobs, specifically in technology. Funding and supporting education programs will help support the workforce in our region and ensure that individuals have the necessary training for better paying jobs. Before my time in the legislature, I worked in the technology sector and I have first hand understanding of how crucial this knowledge is as we head into a more technologically based future.

Additionally, we must keep -- and grow -- the manufacturing and light industrial jobs we have in the Metro area. We need to prioritize using industrial zoned land for industrial use and make sure our infrastructure is up to date and receives proper matainence.

4. The same Middle Income Jobs Report found that Portlandís housing prices are becoming increasingly out of reach not only for low-income households, but also for middle-income households. What would you do to address housing affordability for middle-income residents in our region?
Jessica Vega Pederson* Serving as the interim executive director for Hacienda CDC for four months this year, I was able to see the complexity of affordable housing first hand. While removing the ban on inclusionary zoning at the state level is an important first step, other action is needed. As Multnomah County Commissioner, I will advocate for deed trusts and land banks to create permanent affordable housing, examine ways to repurpose under-utilized county buildings and land for housing and needed services, and seek changes that allow for the conversion of single family homes into duplexes and triplexes.

It is important that we expand affordable housing opportunities within the urban core and do not continue to push low income residents to the outskirts of the metro area. I will work alongside fellow commissioners to push for a holistic view of housing that also includes factors such as transit and economic development.

5. The Alliance recently launched a campaign to advocate for more humane solutions for the hundreds of people experiencing homelessness, including indoor shelters, services for those who need them and enforcement against illegal behaviors. What specific actions would you take to help address our homeless emergency and would you do something to address the proliferation of camping in our public spaces?
Jessica Vega Pederson* As County Commissioner, I look forward to working with the Home for Everyone Coalition to coordinate our response to this issue. The work that has been done recently, to open new shelters such as the Peace Shelter in downtown Portland and the new year-round shelter Human Solutions opening in East Portland are important first steps, but we need to go further. We must provide permanent housing options for our homeless population, as well as offer support services for people experiencing homelessness such as access to mental health services and drug and alcohol treatment programs.
6. The Alliance focuses on small business prosperity, which is significantly impacted by the cumulative impact of taxes, fees and regulations that have grown in recent years. How will you work to reduce the fees, taxes and regulatory burdens of small businesses? And, would you support increasing the Business License Tax (BLT) ownerís compensation deduction to $125,000?
Jessica Vega Pederson* As someone married to a small business owner, I understand the burdens that are placed on those who own small businesses and their families. By streamline our processes, we save these Oregonians both time and money. The issue of the Business License Tax is one I look forward to learning more about from the Portland Business Alliance.
7. The 2015 Economic Impacts of Congestion report shows that the Portland-region and the state of Oregonís competitiveness is largely dependent on efficient transportation. Failure to adequately invest in the system could cost the Portland-metro region $822 million annually by 2040 and close to 6,000 jobs. Do you support investments in the transportation system to support freight movement and remove bottlenecks to the efficient movement of goods and people?
Jessica Vega Pederson* Yes, last session I worked alongside a group of colleagues to try and find a path forward for a comprehensive transportation package. Though we were unable to reach a consensus, I am confident that the 2017 session will focus on this issue. I support investments in our transportation infrastructure to improve our roads and provide safer and quicker transportation options for our constituents. During my time in the legislature, I have fought for funding in East Portland to bring much needed improvement to our roads, the addition of sidewalks, and improve transportation infrastructure across the board.
8. We continue to look for opportunities to support alignment and efficiency in city and county services. In March 2013, then City Auditor, LaVonne Griffin-Valade found that the intergovernmental agreement between the city and the county does not address todayís realities and recommends that the jurisdictions work together to identify appropriate roles and responsibilities for each. In response, what opportunities, if any, do you see for alignment between the city and county?
Jessica Vega Pederson* The work that the city and county have been doing in tandem with the Home for Everyone committee is an example of how we can work together to pool our time and resources. Additional opportunities to collaborate with the city could happen in regards to our transportation improvements.
9. The Alliance is committed to ensuring an adequate supply of shovel ready industrial lands in the Portland-metro region to support job retention and growth. Manufacturing, in particular, requires industrial land and provides higher wages and better benefits than non-manufacturing jobs, particularly for non-whites and non-English-speaking workers. What tools and strategies would you use to promote adequate employment industrial lands that are shovel ready for development?
Jessica Vega Pederson* As a first step, we must make sure the state statutes are updated to ensure that local funds are available and able to be used for developments. For additional development strategies, I look forward to hearing the proposals of the Portland Business Alliance.
10. How would you work with other jurisdictional partners to achieve mutual interests? How would you participate in regional coalition building?
Jessica Vega Pederson* During my time in the legislature, I have been known for my pragmatic and collaborative approach to policy making. As County Commissioner, I will seek the input of those in region who are impacted by different policies. The best way to build a better Multnomah County is by engaging all groups and stakeholders in our process and seeking solutions that take all perspectives into account. I am a passionate champion for Multnomah County and I look forward to growing my relationship with the Portland Business Alliance and its affiliates in my next role.