May 9, 2023 - Election

Meet the candidates in the May 16 Multnomah County election

Headshots of two women.

Ana del Rocío (left) and Julia Brim-Edwards (right). Photos: Courtesy of the candidates

The biggest race on the Multnomah County ballot next Tuesday is who will represent a broad swath of Portland's east side as a county commissioner.

Why it matters: The five-person Board of Commissioners deals with a variety of issues throughout the county, including housing, health and courts, as well as libraries and animal shelters.

  • District 3 is the only race for commissioner on the ballot; it opened up when former Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson won election as chair of the board last fall.

Details: The two leading candidates are Ana del Rocío and Julia Brim-Edwards.

  • Brim-Edwards currently serves on Portland's school board and runs her own consulting firm, having worked for nearly two decades at Nike.
  • Del Rocío led Oregon Futures Lab, which works to find and support political candidates of color. Previously, she was a policy adviser to Pederson at the county and the state Legislature.
  • A third candidate, Albert Kaufman, shows no record of campaign fundraising.

What's happening: We asked both candidates similar questions, focused on housing, a top priority both identified.

Portland and Multnomah County have struggled to work effectively together on homelessness, despite the Joint Office of Homeless Services. How would you change that?

  • Del Rocío wants to think bigger. "Building regional solutions to regional problems is really important."
  • "What I would do is actually reach out to the mayor, and members of the City Council and also fellow county commissioners, because I have productive working relationships with them," Brim-Edwards said.

What did you think when Portland City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez stopped Portland Street Response from giving tents to unhoused people in Portland?

  • Brim-Edwards: "I think he made that decision as the fire commissioner, from a safety standpoint … I also believe it was a symptom of a lack of action from the city and the county to build out adequate shelter space."
  • Del Rocío: "I was dismayed and it seems like we've lost touch with our humanity."

What is the solution for the shortage of people available to work with those experiencing homelessness?

  • Del Rocío said the solution includes both a living wage and sufficient support so workers don't burn out. She criticized a recent city decision to have support workers appear at sweeps.
  • Brim-Edwards agreed that money is important and said workers also need tools to be effective. "Provide a platform where they can see instantly where available shelter beds are."

What is your position on Ballot Measure 26-238, a 0.75% county capital gains tax that would help tenants facing eviction?

  • Brim-Edwards is a no. She thinks there are already resources and says the measure is poorly written.
  • Del Rocío won't say. "It's going to be my charge to implement whatever the voters decide."

How would you describe yourself in three words?

  • "Community accountable leader" — Del Rocío
  • "Passionate results-oriented East Portlander" — Brim-Edwards

Of note: If no candidate wins 50% of votes plus one, this race will go to a runoff in November.

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