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.Paul van Orden – Candidate for Multnomah County Commissioner, seat #2
I am honored to have a moment to share my thoughts on the County’s Mental Health and Addition Services Division. Over the 14 years I have been employed at the City of Portland, I have worked closely with the Portland Police Bureau and the District Attorney’s Office. I have an appreciation of the challenges that individuals in law enforcement face in their first responder role interfacing the members of our community with mental health issues.
I have also spent hours being educated by my spouse and her colleagues who work on the opposite side of the issue, serving community members with mental health and or addiction issues. I do not feel, in my experience, that we will be well served by spending additional resources attempting to more extensively train every law officer in mental health response. Once you understand the amount of training that officers are normally scheduled for annually, you start to understand that option is not logical. Instead, I believe that the work of Project Respond needs to be further supported and staffed as a starting point. I would also be an advocate of the professionals who work to defend our community members with mental health challenges by bringing their salaries more on par with that of the average employees in the District Attorney’s Office.