Public Safety & Accountability
I am committed to making tangible change in our communities, but this will only happen if we center marginalized voices and experiences, truly listen to those testimonies, and take action. Even if the county’s strategic plan calls for embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion in all of our efforts, it matters who we check in with, who sits on our boards, and whose experiences are heard. In June 2020, I testified twice before the Board of County Commissioners to advocate for the Resolution in Support of Black Lives Matter and for a new advisory committee tasked with researching the naming of our County roads, parks, monuments and even the County itself. Anti-racist change must be undertaken in every aspect of policy-making and institutions in order to be effective. Below are some of the ways that I am committed to doing all I can to foster accessible, transparent, and accountable local government—especially when it comes to budgetary processes, public safety, redistricting, and elections.
Firstly, I will continue to be in contact with constituents regularly. Deep conversations with community members have been some of the most gratifying and informative work of the campaign. I want to continue to (literally) meet people where they are and ask what's on their mind, learn what issues they struggle with, and hear their ideas and concerns for how the county is doing. Since COVID-19, many more people of diverse backgrounds have been able to participate in public meetings. After COVID-19, we must continue to stream our meetings and hold occasional town hall style meetings, virtually and in person, to make it easier for more people to access their commissioners with questions and concerns, hear about what we're working on, and how constituents can be involved. Having the ability to provide comments through recording has already greatly aided many in providing testimony and allowing for previously recorded testimony will allow even more to participate.
Secondly, it matters who sits at the table. I want to highlight the participation of the hundreds of Lane County residents who serve on dozens of advisory boards and committees, as an important inclusivity tool for hearing diverse opinions and perspectives. We always need to investigate who is sitting on our committees and advisory boards and their proximity to power if we are ever going to get a more just and equitable Lane County. During my service on the County Equity & Access Advisory Board we developed and made recommendations for how to make our Board more welcoming for public comment and created new ways for folks to engage.
We should always consider who will be impacted by the policies we pass, and use “implications thinking” to look out for unintended consequences. I am dedicated to appointing a budget committee member who is as committed to equity and to using our budget as an expression of our values as I am. We should be able to clearly articulate the services constituents are getting for their tax dollars. As a County Commissioner, I will ask the hard questions, be accessible to my constituents, and be transparent in my decision making.
Thirdly, our county districts must be constructed in ways that substantially represent the concerns of the people who live in them. Following the results of the 2020 census, our county district lines will be redrawn to account for changes in population density and demographics. The people who sit on the committee for this purpose will be greatly influential to the future of our county. Alongside elected officials, this committee should include people who know how to interpret census and GIS data, who do not bring strongly and obviously partisan values to the process, and who are willing to draw lines that appropriately represent the needs of Lane County residents.
Fourthly, I intend to focus on the reorganization of our county priorities and reallocation of our precious resources toward preventative and care-oriented programs that focus on just outcomes, rather than punitive and enforcement driven programs. This includes examining the privatization of food and medical services in our county jail.
At the county level, given that the DA, the Sheriff, and the County Jail are all pieces of the county’s public safety services we could be doing so much more to reduce disparities and inequities as part of a commitment to dismantling white supremacy. We need to look at what data is collected and how, as well as shifting to more outcomes-based metrics, goals, and reporting measures.
I am adamantly opposed to any kind of coordination or cooperation between Federal ICE agents and our local law enforcement entities.
I support any and all measures that move our criminal justice system to one that is victim-focused, prioritizes restorative justice programs, and that decriminalizes poverty and homelessness. I oppose mandatory minimum sentencing and the death penalty. After spending an afternoon (pre-COVID) observing Eugene’s municipal “community court” I am convinced this is a more humane, effective approach that we should be looking to expand on.
I am especially concerned about the conditions, barriers, and risks placed on people being held pre-trial; both in terms of the potential for economic devastation through income or even job loss as they await their “day in court” and now, with COVID-19 ravaging prison populations across the country, the very real possibility that someone who has not yet been formally convicted of a crime may end up serving what amounts to a death sentence due to infection.
Fifthly, in these turbulent times, the integrity of our elections matters more than ever. One critical function of Lane County Government is oversight and implementation of services delivered through our local elections division. In addition to ensuring ballots are sent, collected, and counted properly in each election cycle, Lane County Elections oversees records-keeping, information storage and dissemination, and support and technical assistance for a number of topics such as accommodating military and overseas voters and those with special needs, districting, and annexation petitions. I support ensuring our Elections Division has the resources and training needed to achieve these critical functions.