This Week's Curator: Multnomah County Commissioner and City Council Candidate Loretta Smith
Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith is a candidate for Portland City Council, Position 3. Loretta is a mom, a daughter, a sister, a grandmother, a person of faith and a life-long public servant. She has 30 years of experience working to make the community better. She is an 8-year Multnomah County Commissioner and every day she fights to help those who have been left behind. Spending 21 years working for U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Loretta learned from the best on how to work collaboratively and effectively to get things done.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
I live in the Wilkes neighborhood and share a duplex with my son and his family. The best part is getting to knock on his door and see my 2 grandbabies. Looking forward to spending more time with them after the election. Downside of East Portland is that we need more sidewalks, safe crossings and more north-south transit service. We're still trying to get the attention and investments that East Portland deserves and that has been overlooked since annexed into the City of Portland.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
There are so many great restaurants to visit. I love seeing all of the union training centers and how they're providing living wage, house-buying jobs. When I think about East Portland, I think about opportunity.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
As people of color and low-income individuals have been pushed out of the inner core, they've moved out past 82nd Avenue. We're becoming more diverse, and with that, strengthening our neighborhoods.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
We need good family-wage jobs in East Portland. I’m advocating that traded-sector companies move their headquarters to Portland and be sited in East Portland. This means that low-income and communities of color can live, work and play in their neighborhood. It means that we can ease congestion, as people are not commuting long distances to jobs.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
It's changing faster than the media and can keep up with. There's so much development in every neighborhood, when you turn a corner, you get surprised by more changes.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
I worry about people struggling in our community. I know what it means to worry about housing, because I have lived It. I know what it's like to struggle as a single mother to raise a child and put food on the table. That's why I will always fight for good middle-income jobs to lift communities out of poverty. I know how to be a champion for women and people of color because I've done It. What keeps me up at night is that there is so much to do, and so many people to help. I'm always thinking about how to do more.
What gives you hope?
I know what it’s like to struggle as a single mom and put food on the table. I know what it’s like to struggle with housing. I know what it's like to be a black woman trying to get ahead in Oregon. Because of my lived experiences, I’m an advocate for those left behind. I know how to bring people together to find solutions to make our community work better.
For three years I've been working to create a Promise Neighborhood to help our underserved and under-resourced students graduate from high school. Working with Self Enhancement, Inc., and other community partners, we finally succeeded! We have just been awarded a 5-year, $28 million grant Promise Neighborhood grant from the U.S Department of Education. This grant will help more than 7,000 underserved and under-resourced students and families in the Jefferson High School cluster, Reynolds and David Douglas school districts. I'm so hopeful that we are lifting up those most in need.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
It's important to reach people via many communications channels, and this is an opportunity to share and hear from my East Portland neighbors about the pressing issues facing our community.