Multnomah County Chair: Jessica Vega Pederson
The race to fill the position of Multnomah County Chair being vacated by term-limited Deborah Kafoury falls to a competition between two experienced county commissioners: Jessica Vega Pederson and Sharon Meieran. Both have deep community ties and long histories of public service in their respective districts.
But in Commissioner Vega Pederson the Mercury sees a crucial partnership-forging mindset necessary to face the region’s current challenges.Vega Pederson has served as a county commissioner for five years, during which time she worked to expand shelter beds, champion a universal preschool program, and set aggressive decarbonization goals. Prior to that, she was the first Latina elected to the Oregon House of Representatives, where she fought for increased access to healthcare regardless of immigration status, transportation safety in East Portland, and workers’ rights.
Despite the many policy issues weighing heavy on local leaders, Vega Pederson has a hopeful outlook for the county. During her endorsement interview with the Mercury, Vega Pederson expressed passion and dedication to addressing the county's homelessness crisis with the current tools already available under various regional bond measures and her interest in supporting the expansion of Oregon’s hot-button drug decriminalization policy, Measure 110, while holding the state accountable for any of the program’s missteps. In the same meeting, Meieran plainly described Measure 110 as a "disaster" that "failed completely."