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    Meghan Moyer talks the race for District 1 Commissioner

    By Jenna DemlKen Boddie,


    PORTLAND, Ore. ( KOIN ) — Now that we’ve gotten through the May primary, the attention turns to the November general election. This includes one of the most important local races – Multnomah County Commissioner Position One.

    It’s the position now occupied by the outspoken Commissioner Sharon Meieran, who is term-limited out.

    Vying for that spot are the two leading vote-getters in the primary: Federal administrative law judge Vadim Mozyrsky and Meghan Moyer, a social services public policy expert who’s also on the board of Disability Rights Oregon .

    On this week’s Eye on Northwest Politics, Moyer voiced how her work with disability rights influences her approach to running for commissioner.

    “I think my experience over the past almost four years with [Disability Rights Oregon], combined with my other human services policy work I’ve done has helped me have a better understanding of what’s going on right now in our community,” she said. “But more importantly, I think it’s given me the opportunity to understand what opportunities are available if we work collaboratively with our state and federal partners.”

    Solving homelessness has been one of Moyer’s campaign platforms and the county recently passed a $4 billion budget to aid in the crisis. While Moyer said she has seen some decent individual proposals, a comprehensive plan is lacking.

    “I think there are things that have really shown promise and we’re doubling down on it,” she acknowledged. “But where we’re really hitting barriers is that we don’t think of it as a system and we don’t hold people and our contractors accountable to that system.

    She continued, “I think we have to think bigger here. But I don’t think we’re seeing the success we need to see in every setting of how do we get beyond that initial intervention with somebody and are they progressing on a path to stability.”

    Like her opponent, Moyer also has critiques about the Joint Office of Homeless Services, which is run by Multnomah County.

    “One is contract accountability, both from the county perspective and also from the provider perspective,” she said. “It’s not okay to not pay contractors. They have staff, they need to deliver services. If they can’t count on the resources they budgeted on, it really impedes their ability to serve the public.”

    Another big issue in Multnomah County is ambulance staffing. Chair Jessica Vega-Pederson has consistently resisted relaxing the two-paramedic requirement to a paramedic and an EMT, in an effort to improve staffing and response times. To this, Moyer emphasizes that, while she has seen this model work in places such as New York City, it may not be the county’s most realistic option at this stage.

    “Maybe in a perfect world where we had unlimited amount of access to paramedics, it would be the preferred model. But that’s not the reality we have today,” she said. “We have a lack of staffing where we can’t actually meet the need because of this requirement. I think it is more important to be able to respond quickly than be able to have a perfect system.”

    Multnomah County is in charge of community health and Moyer voiced additional concern about not modifying the system to address the current drug crisis.

    “This isn’t the mental health crisis or the drug addiction crisis of 30 years ago, but we have not fundamentally changed our treatment modalities,” she stressed. “And I think that’s going to really show in the outcomes.”

    Watch the full interview in the video above.

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