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.
Tom Markgraf, Multnomah County Commission Candidate
When I was a young man, one of my cousins suffered from mental illness and ended up taking his own life. His struggle with mental illness had a profound effect on my outlook throughout my later life. Already involved in public service, I determined to make serving the mentally ill a priority.
I worked as the project coordinator and built Transition Project’s homeless shelter and SRO housing. I was honored to be asked to join the board of Mental Health Services West and I soon became board chair. During my service there I expanded housing, started the Children’s Program, created Project Respond, and purchased the Royal Palm.
I advocated at the legislature, with the City of Portland and Multnomah County for mental health services. Since that time I have also served on the board of Outreach in Burnside which served the mentally ill of Old Town China Town.
I believe you can see the quality of the community in how they treat their least fortunate. And Multnomah County can do better for its mentally ill citizens.
We need real funding for the mentally ill. Better funding would not only better serve the least fortunate amongst us, it would also result in real savings. People on their medicine and in safe housing don’t act out. They don’t require the police. They aren’t housed in jails because there is no place else to put them. And they don’t end up in emergency rooms – the most expensive form of health care – because they don’t get regular treatment.
I will continue to support the causes of the mentally ill.