Libra Forde – Candidate Survey 2022

Libra Forde

Libra Forde

Libra Forde
Candidate for Clackamas County Commissioner

Campaign website – https://www.libraforclackamascounty.com/
Campaign email address – info@libraforclackamascounty.com

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?

My personal experience is substantial. As a military spouse, my husband did numerous tours in the army and came back with PTSD which changed him entirely. As a result, my family went through a lot of trauma and experienced domestic violence. I know firsthand that mental illness, addiction, alcoholism and trauma can happen to anyone at any time and the results can be devastating to those closest to them. These are diseases, just like any physical illness and must be addressed as such. We must make mental health a priority in our community to stop the cycle and allow our communities to truly thrive.

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?

One of my top priorities as a commissioner is to bring more services to Clackamas County. We must create a coordinated access system for folks seeking help in Clackamas County. Oftentimes, support is spread out and difficult to navigate. It is extremely demoralizing and frustrating for folks who are in need of urgent assistance. By gathering resources and growing a cooperative system of community organizations, we are better able to leverage resources and respond to urgent needs quickly and efficiently. The bottom line is that folks experiencing addiction and mental illness should be able to access shelter and have their basic needs met, period. This priority also includes building the partnership infrastructure for this county in ways that mimic our neighboring counties.

There are many groups who are doing great work to serve the community, and we must enable and support them with resources, funds, and accessibility so that they can reach more folks. We must also work to provide infrastructure so that folks who want services can access them without barriers.

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?

I believe education is a key component to this, as well as destigmatizing mental illness and addiction. There is a lot of misinformation and prejudices that surround these diseases and we must work together to educate people and feel comfortable talking about these issues.

The other thing that I will do is to advocate for additional resources to address our problems. Homeless sweeps, police, and harassment are not going to solve this. We must invest in programs, similar to the street response team in Portland, to make sure that we are helping and not harming. We need intervention services, we need housing, and we need to uplift the humanity of this situation. These folks are not a nuisance, these folks are human beings and deserve to be treated with integrity and respect.

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?

The current strategy is not working because it is not addressing the problem. Criminalizing homelessness, doing sweeps on camps, and trying to erase the realities of homelessness are not ever going to work. We need a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of homelessness and supports people who need help. Homelessness is a symptom of larger issues and we must work to treat the causes which include mental illness and addiction.

We need to work with the state and regional leaders to stop evictions especially during the pandemic, provide relief for those who cannot afford rent, and keep housing affordable. The truth is that dealing with houselessness can be much more costly than simply implementing these measures to ensure that we end evictions and cancel the rent during the pandemic. In addition, providing “mortgage burden” homeowners options can ensure all residents are not one breath away from being houseless.

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 feel strongly that we can only create safety for our communities by both being intentional in working to interrupt and arrest the root causes that create insecurity and by also ensuring that government entities provide fair and equitable treatment for all our residents. Clackamas County must do much more to address addiction and mental health challenges that directly contribute to making our communities less safe. And we also need upstream interventions that prevent the root cause of gun violence and other violent crimes. I will use my experience with nonprofit service providers to push to scale up these efforts, and make sure they are done in culturally specific and responsive ways.

Most importantly, we also must hold law enforcement accountable, creating clear expectations and training to counter bias and having consequences when members of law enforcement engage in racist or other discriminatory behavior. This can be done with additional training, having an independent oversight committee and by transparent and accessible bodycam footage to review police actions.