Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson's Monthly Newsletter.
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In the seven weeks since I took office, our nation has experienced two rash, divisive executive orders targeting our immigrant and refugee communities. These orders undermine our foundation as a nation of immigrants and diverse people from all over the world. They erode trust in the safety of our law enforcement, schools and government - some of the most integral components of our society. And they threaten our standing in the world as refuge from authoritarian governments.
Multnomah County is home to over 45,000 immigrants and refugees from all parts of the globe. In District 3, immigrants and refugees are part of the fabric that makes a diverse and vibrant community. Migration is a human right and is part of my family’s history on both sides.
My grandfather emigrated from Mexico and ultimately landed in northwest Indiana. He was able to provide for his family with the income earned from his job in the steel mill industry. Because of his hard work, his children and his grandchildren were able to attend college and become leaders in their chosen fields.  
When I recently heard of increased immigration enforcement activity in Multnomah County, my concern stemmed not only from my personal family history, but also from my role as a mother and leader in my community. It’s my job to help our families feel safe and protected from discrimination. It’s my job to work closely with community-based organizations working on the frontlines of immigrant rights advocacy.
I take this responsibility seriously. Over the past month, I have worked closely with stakeholders in the immigrant and refugee community. While we cannot change federal policies, there are things we can do at the local level to address this issue. Together we have moved forward on:

  • Sponsoring a resolution declaring Multnomah County an inclusive community.
  • Submitting a letter to our congressional delegation requesting ICE “safe spaces” include courthouses.
  • Partnering with organizations to expand access to affordable legal resources.

We are a welcoming and inclusive community that will not stand for exclusionary policies or practices that harm our neighbors, relatives, students, or workers. I am proud to stand by Chair Kafoury, Sheriff Reese, and my fellow Commissioners in reiterating our commitment to a welcoming and inclusive community, where all are treated with the dignity and respect that we deserve.

Focus on pedestrian safety
My East Portland district is home to 20 of the 30 most dangerous intersections in Portland. The increase in fatalities that we’ve seen on our streets is tragic, especially because we know these deaths are preventable.
I am committed to the
Vision Zero goal - to eliminate traffic safety deaths in our community by 2025 - and will continue to advocate for pedestrian safety improvements, from infrastructure to education to enforcement.
This month I was excited to participate in a Safe Routes to School Town Hall at the JADE/APANO Multicultural Space. The event brought together community members to learn how to advocate for street-level safety and community health for kids, parents, grandparents, and neighbors in East Portland.
I was also pleased to have my office participate in a crosswalk education and enforcement effort with the City of Portland at 122nd and Main, a high crash corridor. Thank you to the Portland Bureau of Transportation and Mayor Wheeler’s office for highlighting the need for pedestrian awareness on our city streets.
I strongly support these efforts and will push our partners - both at the state and local level - to continue to fund safety improvements and use other tools at our disposal to improve pedestrian safety. Our communities thrive when children can walk or bike to school safely, when families have greenways and sidewalks in their neighborhoods and when businesses are easily accessible by all modes of transportation. There’s much more work to do, so stay tuned.



Voicing support for the Affordable Care Act

One of my first acts as a Multnomah County commissioner was to bring forth a proclamation heralding the success of the Affordable Care Act and warning of the dire consequences of a hasty repeal.
Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010, 95% of all adult Oregonians and 98% of children in Oregon have healthcare coverage through employer-sponsored health plans, Marketplace plans, Medicaid and Medicare. For the over 2 million Oregonians covered through employer-sponsored health plans, coverage has expanded under the ACA to include an end to annual lifetime limits; coverage until age 26; free preventive care; elimination of pre-existing condition clauses; coverage of contraceptives; and slower premium growth.
We heard emotional stories from patients and providers who have benefitted from the changes implemented by the ACA. You can read more about the hearing
here. More importantly, you can count on me to continue to fight against any changes that reduce coverage.

Coffee with the Commissioner
Come join Commissioner Vega Pederson for coffee and a chat about the issues that are important to you. 

Date: Saturday, March 18th.
Location: Midland Library, Small Conference Room, 805 SE 122nd Ave.
Time: 10 AM-11:30 AM
Coffee will be provided. 
Library Advisory Board seeks new members
If you love books and our library system, consider apply to serve on the
Library Advisory Board. The Board is particularly looking for representatives from SE and East Portland. Apply here if you’re interested.
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