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.
Maria C. Rubio, Multnomah County Commissioner Candidate
My campaign focus is on connecting families, individuals and children with services.
I have lived in the Portland area since 1969 and have spent 30 years in public service. I have served in government at the federal, state, county, and city levels and have a clear understanding about how public policies affect our lives and of those who are the most vulnerable in our society.
I have worked with victims of violence, the unemployed, seniors and people with disabilities, offenders, and people with mental illness throughout my career at the state and county level. I also worked for the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC to implement Community Policing principles across the country through training, technical assistance, funding, and developed best practices on police ethics and integrity, early warning systems, ending racial profiling, and improving police-community relations.
Most recently, I served as Public Safety Policy Director for former Mayor, Tom Potter. One of the most life-changing, challenging, and heart-wrenching experiences during that time was the in-custody death of James Chasse. His life and his death were a case study of the gaps between the mental health care system, police response to the mentally ill, funding and oversight issues, and the lack of true systems of collaboration in the delivery of services.
We used a systemic approach to assess the nexus of police and the mentally ill in Portland. We convened the Public Safety-Mental Health Panel that included city, county, and state decision makers and service providers including the Mental Health Association of Portland. The leadership consisted of Mayor Potter, Chair Ted Wheeler, Senators Avel Gordly and Ben Westlund. The Panel identified several recommendations including mandatory Crisis Response Training for all Portland Police Officers; a review of and changes to the PPB use of force policy; and additional funding for Project Respond, to name a few. The City provided hundreds of thousands of additional dollars to fund its share of the recommendations.
When elected, I will work to improve health, economic, and environmental equity. I will work to make public safety more efficient and more community-oriented; and lastly I will work toward collaborative governance with other elected officials to address issues that affect all residents of Multnomah County.