US Congressperson chats up outer East Portland residents

Find out what US Representative Lori Chavez-DeRemer says she found out from her ‘meet-and-greet’ with folks at this Lents Neighborhood Livability Association meeting …

People attending this special meeting of the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association help themselves to gourmet cupcakes and coffee, while they await the arrival of their US Representative, Oregon District 5, Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

It wasn’t their typical meeting the evening of December 19, when the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association hosted US Representative of Oregon District 5, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, at a special reception held on Mt. Scott in the Community Connections Center of New Hope Church.

Although it was promoted as a meet-and-greet with Chavez-DeRemer, some of those who came said that they expected that this would be more like a “town hall” meeting. Instead, the US Representative made it clear that she had come simply to meet with, and listen to the concerns of, neighbors in the outer East Portland area.

A crowd forms around US Representative, all eager to ask questions and express opinions.

Lori Chavez-DeRemer arrived about 15 minutes late, but the some 30 who came enjoyed the coffee service during their brief wait, as well as the selection of gourmet cupcakes provided by Queen Natasha’s Kitchen.

Although the meeting location was just outside the boundary of the oddly-drawn US Congressional District – which reaches southwest all the way to Bend – it does cover most of Lents and Brentwood-Darlington, as well as a slice of Woodstock and a bit of Eastmoreland.

Lori Chavez-DeRemer listens, as Lents neighborhood activist Judy Low decries how the Lents Urban Renewal funds did little to help fix pot-holed roads in the area.

After the meeting was over, we asked Chavez-DeRemer about her visit.

Q Why did you take time to visit Lents today?

A I appreciated the invite from the neighborhood association. As a former city councilor and mayor of Happy Valley, I find it very important to be an active listener, and to understand the most important issues facing the community.

It helps me be a more effective voice for my constituents – I can relay their concerns directly, during committee meetings, and even in discussions with my colleagues, so we can figure out how to work together to solve these problems.

Q What were the most important two or three issues that were brought up when you were talking with these Southeast Portland neighbors?

A Homelessness continues to be a top concern for many Oregonians that I meet with, especially in the Portland area. I also hear a lot of constituents express frustrations with Measure 110, and the negative impact it’s had on our communities.

The fentanyl crisis and substance use disorders and addiction go hand-in-hand with that.

Overall, I think the people I hear from in the Portland area are concerned about public safety, and want to see some change.

David Potts listens as Lori Chavez-DeRemer provides feedback about outer East Portland issues.

Q What are things you can do, at the federal level, to address any of these issues and problems faced by Lents neighbors?

A Certainly, there are many actions that I believe the state needs to take that would help address these issues. But there’s still work that can be done at the federal level to alleviate some of these concerns.

For example, I authored and introduced a bipartisan homelessness bill with Congresswoman Summer Lee, a Democrat from Pennsylvania. The legislation aims to expand healthcare access for those experiencing homelessness. If we can take this first step and get them the treatment they need, the next step is getting them into some sort of transitional housing.

I’ve taken a similar approach to address the addiction crisis, and public safety issues. One of the bills I led, the Opioid Crisis Workforce Act, just passed committee with bipartisan support. It supports healthcare workers who practice in the field of addiction treatment and recovery, to help improve access to these services for those who are facing substance use disorders.

Q Do you have other thoughts you’d like to share?

A It was a productive visit, and I always enjoy having the opportunity to hear from constituents so I can take their concerns directly to the policymaking tables in D.C.

As the 5th District’s representative, my most important task is to make sure the federal government is working for my constituents. My office and I are always here to help anyone in the district – regardless of political affiliation.

Contact Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer by phone at (202) 225-5711, or through her contact form on her US Representative official website: CLICK HERE.

January 11
Lents Neighborhood Livability Association meets
This live, and in person meeting is from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. A light supper is served starting at 6:00 p.m.

This month’s speakers include Jamie Gullickson of the Mental Health & Addiction Association of Oregon, and is now a compliance officer/liaison with the Portland Police Bureau.

Also, they’ll hear from Brandy Westerman – Emergency Humanitarian Director (appointed by the Mayor’s office) to oversee all the various Safe Rest Villages in Portland.

You’ll find them at the Community Connection Center, located on the grounds of New Hope Church at 10603 SE Henderson Street. [Come in the front doors, turn right, go down the first hallway to the newly-remodeled “big room”; signs will point the way.] For more information, email

© 2024 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

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