Two sudden vacancies on the Multnomah County Commission caused a rush of candidates. We’ve asked them all – Mike Darger, Jeff Cogen, Wes Soderback for chairmanship, and Paul van Orden, Chuck Currie, Gary Hansen, Karol Collymore, Loretta Smith, Tom Markgraf, Roberta Phillip, Maria C. Rubio for the #2 seat, representing N & NE Portland, to tell us their position on mental health issues.
Gary Hansen, Multnomah County Commissioner Candidate
The one single most pressing issue facing Multnomah County is mental health. Oregon has underfunded mental health programs for decades and we as citizens have allowed this to continue. Now is the time for this to change. The recent police shootings have awoken the public. A new awareness has come to legislative leaders. And the Obama health care bill means all health care including mental health will be in a state of flux.
As a candidate for County Commissioner I am advocating the county immediately place a case worker, from Seniors and People with Disabilities, at the Justice Center to assist the mentally ill re-establish lost benefits upon release. Second, move the county’s Veteran Service officer to the Justice Center to assist mentally ill inmates in accessing their federal entitlements they have earned by serving our county.
A more comprehensive solution is to ask the Oregon legislature to dedicate Tobacco Settlement dollars to community mental health. For the new hospital to function the state need to make a large investment in community mental health. With a dedicated fund, communities could build programs and infrastructure with confidence program money would be available in the future.
I have a more detailed plan on www.Hansen4County.com.