Candidate for Governor
Question One – People with lived experience of mental illness, addiction, alcoholism, and or trauma are under-represented in public office. What is your personal experience with these illnesses?
As a School Superintendent and Educator for 27 years I have had extensive experience working with and supporting students and parents who struggle with mental illness, addiction, alcoholism, and trauma. I have found that the best means of addressing these indices is to on an individual case basis. It is imperative to get good data and information on all the categories afflicting an individual and/or their household. Good mental health counseling and therapeutic family supports have been a very effective means of improving the capacity for the afflicted to address their challenges. For example, if a student is facing severe depression and lives in a home in which a parent has a substance abuse addiction, both the students needs AND those of the parent should be supported simultaneously if a positive and sustainable outcome is to be achieved. In this manner, no two households are necessarily the same, which requires the gathering of data, understanding of the unique circumstances, and the application of strategic supports for long-term positive outcomes to be facilitated.
Question Two – Oregon ranks at the bottom of states in a well-regarded national survey of access to public treatment services for mental illness, addiction and alcoholism. What can you in office do to change this?
Oregon has enabled the growth of mental illness, addiction, and alcoholism through under investment, decriminalization, and lack of a cohesive use of “accountability standards” designed to facilitate hard choices for the afflicted, specifically regarding drug use and addiction. A lack of accountability and “decriminalization” of hard drugs has resulted in a record number of overdose deaths in Oregon. As Governor, I will re-establish accountability and create “choices” for the drug addicted that incentivizes treatment and reconciliation. Those who struggle to pursue these options will face the less advantageous option of consequence and potential jail-time. This approach has successfully been applied in other states like Rhode Island and the results have been astonishing with the majority of the addicted receiving treatment and ongoing support that is restorative.
This same approach also works well for the mentally ill who comprise a large portion of Oregon’s homeless population. Treatment, and ongoing supports have proven to lead a high proportion of the mentally ill back to a path of dignity and contribution to civil society. This kind of balanced, firm, but fair approach is very needed here in Oregon and is cheaper and more economical than enabling homelessness with many more positive intangibles for the individuals served.
Question Three – In that same national survey, Oregon ranks at the top for prevalence of mental illness, addiction and alcoholism. What can you in office do to change this?
The prevalence of mental illness, addiction and alcoholism in Oregon has reached crisis levels and continuing to do the same things will not serve those who need intervention, accountability, options, treatment and on-going support. As Governor, I will make addressing the individual needs of those facing these challenges among the highest priority so we can restore dignity to those challenged and set our communities free from the burden of ever-expanding homelessness, mental illness, addiction and alcoholism.
Question Four – A natural consequence of lack of access to treatments and high prevalence of mental illness, addiction and alcoholism is chronic homelessness. Why isn’t Portland’s strategy to reduce homelessness working and what could you do in office to change that?
Portland’s strategy for reducing homelessness has not worked. Overall, the “solutions” have done more to encourage the problem AND incentivize more homeless to move to Portland so as to access the enabling taxpayer funded resources the city provides. Homelessness can only be solved at the individual level in which all the indices affecting the homeless person are simultaneously addressed.
Ironically, Portland is home to a program called Bybee Lakes Hope Center that has been incredibly effective at addressing homelessness using this very strategy. As Governor, I will expand the opportunity to replicate this type of approach and place these kinds of effective, nonprofit driven programs in every county in Oregon.
Question Five – In 2015 the US DOJ found the Portland Police Bureau has a pattern and practice of harming people with mental illness. There’s little data to show that pattern and practice has changed, and no data to show other metro area police bureaus are any different. How would you in office engage with this problem?
Police training needs to be expanded to include basic social work courses. Each Deputy can then be empowered to assess a situation, such as engaging with a mentally ill or addicted person from a social worker/case management approach rather than solely a law enforcement one. In this manner a Deputy can do an initial intake and referral to DHS and coordination for program access/referral and/or drop off to Bybee Lakes Hope Center or equivalent.
This will require a change of culture and some cross training investments, but the service and relationship between the police and the mentally ill will improve via the reduction of enforcement conflicts and an increase in access to treatment and support services.