New county commissioner takes oath inside district

Find out why Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson was sworn in twice, as she began her service to residents of District 3 …

The audience looks on, as Multnomah County’s first Latino-American Commissioner, Jessica Vega Pederson, is about to take the oath of office in outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although new Multnomah County Commissioner District 3 Jessica Vega Pederson had already taken her oath of office the previous day in the Board of Commissioners chambers on SE Grand at Hawthorne, she held a second swearing-in ceremony on the morning of January 4 at Portland Community College Southeast Campus at SE Division and 82nd Avenue of Roses.

“I’m thrilled to have an event open to the public in the heart of my district,” remarked Vega Pederson.

The event area on the second floor of the college’s library was filled to capacity as the ceremony got underway, just after 9:00 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the New Year.

Addressing the gathering, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury recalls how both she and Vega Pederson had served in the Oregon State Legislature.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury thanked Vega Pederson for inviting her to speak at the occasion.

“Serving on the Board of Commissioners is a tremendous responsibility; one that is both humbling and inspiring,” Kafoury began.

“This is hard work, and I’m very glad that the voters saw that Jessica has what it takes to help solve those problems,” Kafoury continued.

Part of being a successful elected official, Kafoury opined, is “knowing how to bring the community to the table; and, this is where Jessica excels. She knows the challenges facing families in her area.”

Jessica Vega Pederson is sworn in by Multnomah County Judge John A. Wittmayer.

A day after taking the oath of office, administered by Multnomah County Judge John A. Wittmayer, Vega Pederson spoke: “I’m here today to dig into the job. [Yesterday’s ceremony] was very nice, but in my heart, I knew that for my office to be most meaningful, it needed to be done here, in the district with our people.”

District 3 covers a good portion of inner Southeast Portland, from SE Cesar Chavez Boulevard east, and extending well into outer East Portland.

Commissioner Vega Pederson addresses attendees at her ceremony.

“In East Portland we’re not looking to be exceptional, but we are tired of being the exception,” Vega Pederson said.

Conditions on the street where she and her family live in the Hazelwood neighborhood inspired her to run, she said. “The [Shel Silverstein] poem, ‘Where The Sidewalk Ends’, isn’t just a poem, it’s the reality on our street.

“While I want to be a commissioner for all of Multnomah County, I know that the residents of East Portland need a strong voice advocating for the issues that most affect their lives: Affordable housing, transportation, equity, and a working social safety net,” Vega Pederson told the group.

She’ll work to make sure everyone in her district has an “equal shot”, Commissioner Vega Pederson promises.

In her remarks, she called for the people of her district to have an “equal shot”.

After her remarks, Vega Pederson defined what she means by providing an “equal shot” for East Portland News.

“It is that everyone has a safe and sustainable community, anywhere they live, in Multnomah County,” she responded.

“This means everyone, no matter how long they’ve lived here, has an equal opportunity for economic success and [obtaining] services,” Pederson continued. “I think it’s also making sure that the County is a leading voice for critical issues in our state, such as in transportation and the environment.”

Find out more about Commissioner Vega Pederson by visiting her website: CLICK HERE to open her official webpage.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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