This commission is unified against tolling. As chair, leading the fight against tolling is a top priority. As a commission, we worked with the Clackamas County Department of Transportation and Development to draft a letter outlining the deficiencies with the I-205 Toll Project Environmental Assessment. Within our letter, we highlighted that tolling is a regressive tax on the working poor who should have their hard-earned money go towards their family, not tollways, and that ODOT had not provided adequate mitigation tactics for local roads for when drivers inevitably try to bypass tolls. Our letter received attention from the governor, which was a key factor in her decision to pause tolling. With a pause, citizens can sign the IP-4 petition, which would require a citizen vote before tolls are put into place.
I made certain we stood our ground amid the "defund & vilify the police" movement that destroyed neighboring counties. We reaffirmed our commitment to having a fully funded police force with the 2023-2024 county budget. We guaranteed funding to keep every current boot-on-the-ground law enforcement officer, and 65% of general funds were allocated towards public safety. We also promised to supplement any budget revenue decline for the Sheriff's Office through general funds. To further reinforce our commitment to public safety, our commission voted to build a new courthouse so the entire public safety process, including arrest, investigation, jail, trial, and prosecution, could be done efficiently and effectively to ensure all residents' safety.
We decreased the unsheltered homeless population by 45% by focusing on the core issues of homelessness: addiction and mental health. As a commission, we knew we needed to do something different than our neighboring counties, who chose to aid addiction by passing out needles, tents and drug paraphernalia while neglecting to treat addiction and mental health. With everything we have learned from Portland, we knew that providing expensive housing to addicts not ready for this step would never fix this issue, so we prioritized recovery and treatment options. Housing has its place in helping this crisis, but without a recovery-oriented plan, it will fail. Our recovery-oriented approach to homeless set the basis for our three-step plan on how to handle homelessness, which includes: Holding Homelessness Causation and Accountability Summits, convening a Blue-Ribbon Committee of thought leaders from the national, state, and local level, and bringing a referral to the voters on whether the legislature should overturn Measure 110, which decriminalized hard drugs. We understand that treatment is essential to getting those experiencing homelessness the help they need. With treatment as a top priority for combatting homelessness, our county has acquired additional space to provide addiction and mental health treatment.
As a commission, public safety is our greatest priority, and we have ensured that our county has not gone down the same path as neighboring counties, which resulted in increased crime and less safety for residents. The 2023-2024 budget that just passed is the largest budget for public safety in county history, fully funding every single law enforcement position. To ensure justice is served in Clackamas County, our commission took advantage of an extremely rare opportunity of a 50 percent matching grant fund from the Oregon Justice Department to help us build a new county courthouse. Our current courthouse was built nearly a century ago and is nearing being condemned due to safety issues. The county has grown almost 10 times the size since and to ensure public safety, we desperately needed a new courthouse. This grant allows us to build a new one so criminals can be held accountable and justice can be served.
I have continued to push back against the ongoing abuses and attacks on private and public land use from the regional government (Metro). Metro, the only directly elected regional government and metropolitan planning organization in the United States, governs portions of Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. Despite being lumped together, Clackamas County’s best interest has been sacrificed for the other two counties governed under Metro. Their actions have driven up the cost of housing, increased our homelessness and reduced our ability to do what is best for the future of Clackamas County citizens. A recent decision to do a land exchange between Multnomah County and Clackamas County highlights Metro’s willingness to sacrifice our county’s growth for the sake of the other counties. In addition to being pushed aside repeatedly, we cannot afford to have the disastrous policies from neighboring counties governed by Metro creep into Clackamas County.
Our commission’s number one priority is public safety, and our results speak for themselves. Under this commission, the county has reduced homelessness by 31% and our violent crime is dramatically lower than in our neighboring communities. Our commitment to public safety can be further seen in the recently passed 2023-2024 county budget, which includes the largest public safety budget in county history and keeps every law enforcement position. As a commission, we also promise to supplement potential revenue declines for the Sheriff’s Office with general funds because we are committed to a fully funded public safety effort. As a commission, to keep public safety in Clackamas County, we also voted for the new county courthouse. We need a new county courthouse to handle our growing population and guarantee our residents can access the numerous services we provide at the county level including, Social Services, Behavioral Health, Public Health, Juvenile Services, Veterans Services, and A Safe Place Family Justice Center.
Part of our job as a commission is to ensure every tax dollar creates the most benefit for our county. In our recent budget deliberations, we asked all departments to be frugal and reduce costs where they could. We also implemented a new budget system that requires every department to submit a chart of accounts and reconcile their monthly budget. Our decision to change the budget system was so residents could have full transparency on how the county spends money. Compliance with this new budget system is essential for transparency. The Sheriff's office did not comply and attempted to circumvent our updated transparency requirements, so we called for an audit.
When I ran for office, I promised to stop “Portland Creep” from infiltrating Clackamas County, and this commission has done exactly that. As a commission, we have come together on the big issues of crime, homelessness, drug addiction, land use, and law and order and made decisions with our residents’ best interests in mind. We have ensured our county has the police force and resources it needs to maintain law and order, and we recognize what Portland fails to acknowledge, that homelessness and drug addiction are connected. We chose very different solutions than the 'Portland' model and they are working to reduce homelessness, crime, safety, and improve community cohesion. We also referred a vote to reform or repeal Measure 110, which decriminalized hard drugs. We have seen the destruction that Portland policies have caused, and our commission has been unwavering in our commitment to save Clackamas County from those same destructive policies. Our commission is spirited, and at times we have had contentious debates on these issues, but all that has resulted in a safer, stronger, and better Clackamas County.