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[This year's news cycle was a vicious one, and left little time for reflection. As 2020 nears its end, we're taking the opportunity to look back on the most important Mercury stories written during the past year. This article was originally published on November 18, 2020. We hope you'll consider making a monthly contribution to the Mercury to help continue our work into next year and beyond.—eds.]

For Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson, working on the county’s universal preschool measure—which passed on November 3—was “a bright light in a year when there weren’t too many of them.”

Vega Pederson was one of the architects of the measure, which was a joint effort between the county’s Preschool for All task force and Universal Preschool Now (UP Now), a coalition of unions and progressive groups, including the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of American (DSA). Now, the people behind the measure are touting their campaign—and win—as a lesson in how to pass progressive policy at the local level through a combination of grassroots advocacy and a community-led planning process. They’re also looking forward to what comes next, which could stretch far beyond the Multnomah County line.

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“We’re starting to get a lot of national attention,” said Emily von W. Gilbert, an UP Now coordinator. “It’s because this is one of the few programs in this space that’s a full solution, not just a bandaid.”

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