The race for Portland City Commission, Position No. 3 has drawn an unusual mix of candidates – even a board member from the Mental Health Association of Portland – to run against incumbent Dan Saltzman. These include Dan, Jesse Cornett, Mary Volm, Spencer Burton, Ed Garren, Martha Perez and Michael Courtney. We’ve asked them all (but Jason) to tell us their position on mental health issues.Portland is a great city because we’ve never settled for the status quo. Unfortunately, at a time when so many of our neighbors are struggling, our city government seems to be stumbling when we need it most. As your City Commissioner, you can count on me to reestablish those progressive priorities that made us the envy of the nation: good jobs, safe neighborhoods and compassion for those who need it the most.
Mental Health services cost money, and I will work with Multnomah County commissioners, state legislators, as well as the federal delegation, to increase funding for mental health services. Multnomah County is the biggest mental health care provider in the state, and the City of Portland cannot begin to address the crisis without them as a partner.
As the only candidate to have attended a police academy and serve in uniform (I was a Reserve Deputy Sheriff from 1998-2001), I saw first hand the challenges the officers on our street face. When my closest friend, Ray Gwerder was gunned down by a police sniper in 2005, I began my journey to understand the depth of the mental health crisis in Portland and the inability of our police to deal effectively with it. We have a choice to make as a society — do we want to address mental illness at the front end with treatment or at the back end with law enforcement.
I firmly believe that the most compassionate response to mental illness is early treatment, and our police have been forced into an inappropriate role on the front lines of our mental health crisis. Indeed, they tend to even ignore the mental health crisis within the bureau. As a community, we cannot thrive until we collectively prioritize dealing with these issues. We can sweep them under the rug no longer. We must fund services and train officers better.
For more information about my campaign, please visit jessecornett.com or call us at 503-360-1417