Candidate for State Senator
READ – All Survey Results
The Mental Health Association of Portland is a 501 C 3 nonprofit organization, prohibited from making candidate endorsements. We endorse no candidates.
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?
ANSWER – I have extensive lived experience with mental illness, addiction, alcoholism and trauma. It has affected every corner of my extended family, family of origin, and my own nuclear family. My biological parents had the combination of tough economic circumstances coupled with addiction and alcoholism. I am a member of the recovery community myself. This is a very personal part of my story that I am much more comfortable speaking about in person. However, I am willing to be candid that my own lived experience is what motivates my passion around mental and behavioral health services.
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?
ANSWER – In order to meet the increasing demand for behavioral health care in the state, we need to address the behavioral health pipeline by eliminating barriers to education and licensing, and look at policies that can positively impact recruitment and retention of behavioral health professionals, such as pay parity for behavioral health providers. We also must work to eliminate silos in addressing behavioral health, and instead coordinate, collaborate, and integrate so that services are accessible to those who need them. As Chair of the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board, I increased the number of school counselors in the district because I believe that behavioral health supports must be integrated into our existing systems so that no one falls through the cracks.
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?
ANSWER – Since mental illness so often goes hand in hand with a substance abuse disorder, it is important that we integrate our systems of care for folks with these co-occurring disorders. I hope to see our state move towards a fully integrated model of delivering care for co-occurring disorders, ensuring there is “no wrong door” to enter treatment. This means that people who seek treatment for a mental disorder should be routinely screened for substance use disorder, and everyone who seeks treatment for a substance use disorder should also be screened for mental disorders. This, in addition to bolstering and coordinating our behavioral health system, will help eliminate access barriers to necessary treatment.
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?
ANSWER – There is no easy solution to Oregon’s homelessness and housing crisis, and working towards thriving communities will require a multi-pronged approach. This must include addressing the increasing cost of living, wrap-around services that include behavioral health and addiction services, transportation and accessibility, and funding both permanent supportive housing and affordable housing as well as temporary housing.
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?
I am in support of programs that allow for behavioral health crises to be addressed by behavioral health professionals, such as the CAHOOTS program in Eugene and Portland Street Response in Portland. I believe these programs need to be resourced and investments need to be made in the necessary infrastructure to support them, such as respite centers, temporary housing, and more.
Additionally, we need to fund reliable tracking and reporting of all incidents involving the use of deadly force by law enforcement and ensure the role of mental illness is identified and reported in government data collection.