Multnomah County Commission District 4
Lori Stegmann: www.voteloristegmann.com
Amanda Schroeder: www.amandaforeastcounty.com
1. What racial/cultural/ethnic identities do you claim?
Stegmann – I am a proud and grateful Korean, Asian American. I was blessed to have been adopted by my mom and dad, Walter and Edna Stegmann who provided a loving home for me and my three older brothers and sister.
As an adoptee, it has been a journey of discovery in finding my roots. While the search for my birth parents did not lead me to them, it did bring me to the realization that “family” is defined by love and shared memories, not blood. And that definition can and does transcend race.
Schroeder – I am third generation American with my family roots deep in Norway, above the Arctic Circle. My Scandinavian heritage is very important to me and to my family, with us celebrating National holidays, learning traditional cooking and dance. We are a matriarchal family, with my Grandmother at the head.
2. What are the root causes of racial inequities in Oregon?
Schroeder – In two words: White privilege. Historically past segregation practices lead to clusters of poor services and/or infrastructure that persist in some areas; Past limited opportunities to education and/or training allowed for limited advancement leading to upper levels in business not being represented equitably by all groups; Limited opportunities to interact with varying races and cultures in Oregon, especially outside the Portland Metro area; Areas of high poverty that often lead to unhealthy levels of competition for resources and blame of other groups when resources run short.
Stegmann – Unfortunately, Oregon has a long history of racism which resulted in an imbalance of power. Policies and decisions were made by people who did not reflect the complexion of the community. A sense of entitlement and greed were the seeds of racial inequity. We are still actively dealing with the remnants of that history.
Those disenfranchised have less access and understanding of how to acquire and use political power to effect positive change. I look forward to helping empower people.
3. There are over 800,000 People of Color in Oregon, and growing. Generations of racial exclusion, exploitation and divestment have historically marginalized communities of color from the political process. What steps will you take to engage communities of color?
Stegmann – Get elected. I will be the first Asian American to serve on the Commission in its 162 year history. Also, for the first time ever, the Commission will have a majority-minority board. I think those are huge first steps. From there, I will continue my engagement with minority communities to make sure their voices are heard and represented when I take office.
Schroeder – It is my intent to increase county (and especially East Multnomah County) sponsorship and participation in communities of color neighborhood activities, beginning with, but not limited to opportunities for children in sports and other extracurricular activities, both within the neighborhood and within the county and city areas. Cultural diversity and understanding needs to be weighed as valid and important in selecting participants for county functions and resources. We have an incredibly diverse population in East County, which should be celebrated.
4. What leadership actions can APANO count on you for in response to racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobic and other comments that demonize and stereotype Oregonians?
Schroeder – I sit on the Human Rights Committee for my international union the American Federation of Government Employees, exhibiting leadership on a national level with regards to combating racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia. I am an active member in Jobs With Justice. I have been committed to speaking against inequities when presented the opportunity. Being on the Human Rights Committee, I have been afforded more platforms than most to fight the “-isms” and “-phobias” that plague the minds of those who are either willfully ignorant or simply ignorant.
Stegmann – You can count on me to actively promote a culture of acceptance/ respect for all Oregonians by example and through enacting and supporting policies that protect us all.
Continue to work hard to gain a deeper understanding of the barriers that too many Oregonians face, and what we can do to break down those barriers. In partnership with organizations like APANO and other culturally-specific groups I will push leaders and others to focus on what we have in common, not what divides us.
5. Asians, Pacific Islanders and communities of color are historically under-represented in civic life. What would you do to create or expand culturally specific (i.e. Asian/Pacific Islander, African American, Native American, Latino/a, etc) leadership and civic engagement programs?
Stegmann – Work side by side with APANO and other culturally-specific organizations to promote and encourage leadership training programs. For example, I am so excited to work with Latino Network’s Leaders Academy. This program is part of the Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Diversity and Civic Leadership Program. Its goal is to increase equity in community involvement by engaging Latinos in city, county, and regional governance.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at The Center for Women’s Leadership school at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. Their goal is to provide women educational opportunities that prepare them to fill boardrooms and public offices. I look forward to the day when equal representation in leadership positions across all sectors is the norm. I love this program and discovered that many of the students are minorities. I look forward to engaging even more with the school once I am in office.
Schroeder – Increase the use of demographics of county to determine if infrastructure is a limiting factor (bus lines safe streets, communty centers). Strategize with community leaders for increased involvement. Talk to groups (community forums) about goals and suggestions for improving diversity. Select in-house groups to investigate how to increase opportunities.
6. What are your solutions to the Housing Crisis facing Oregonians?
Schroeder – The housing crisis is going to take definite action. I support rent stabilization, a Tenant’s Bill of Rights, inclusionary zoning and urban renewal.
Stegmann – I am hopeful that Portland’s affordable housing bond for $258 million will pass. If it does, it will provide funding to create/preserve 1300 units and that’s at least a start.
At the same time, I will look for ways to reduce building costs that encourage development. And let’s look at other models of housing, like communal or co-housing, tiny houses, and co-op housing. Review zoning ordinances to accommodate new housing models.
Further, we should look at every opportunity for city and county owned properties to be utilized to provide shelters with wrap around services for those experiencing homelessness.
Most importantly, we must take a comprehensive approach to provide education and training that result in long term employment that provides a family wage.
Continue collaborative efforts like A Home for Everyone Coalition and the Joint Office of Homeless Services.
7. Communities of color have identified a significant lack of culturally specific centers in neighborhoods where they are concentrated. What steps would you take to support new investments in culturally specific community spaces and infrastructure?
Stegmann – I am very supportive of the new Asian Health & Service Center that is being proposed in SE Portland. The current center is bursting at its seams. This new center will provide culturally-specific services and community programs. It will provide both behavioral and physical health care to serve three-quarters of Oregon’s Asian population that live in the Portland Metro area – about 135,000 people.
About 25% of the area’s African American community now resides in West Gresham. Often, a sense of community can be found in the faith-based community. I look forward to my continued partnership with Apostle Holt, Pastor of Kingdom Nation Church now located in the Rockwood neighborhood of West Gresham. He and his church have begun significant work in healing our community by addressing the racial inequities that exist.
Our Council is proposing a general obligation bond for a community center in Gresham. If the bond passes, I will advocate for culturally specific programming.
Schroeder – Cultural centers can greatly enhance the interactions within a community as well as be a focal point for visitors to interact and learn about the community’s culture. The county can provide incentives for building repair to offering training for leaders to better access county resources. I am very excited to see the contributions the Grande Ronde tribe will be making to Wood Village in the near future!
For more information on these candidates, please visit their website:
Lori Stegmann: www.voteloristegmann.com
Amanda Schroeder: www.amandaforeastcounty.com
To get involved in APANO’s civic engagement work, please contact Kathy@apano.org or call 971-340-4861.