This Week's Curator: Oregon State Senator Shemia Fagan
Senator Shemia Fagan is the child of a single father and a mother who experienced homelessness in East Portland for most of Fagan’s childhood. Fagan, a civil rights attorney and mother of two, served two terms in the Oregon House where she delivered millions of dollars for new sidewalks in East Portland. When the Oregon Senate failed to act urgently to address our housing crisis, she primaried a Democrat incumbent with over 40 years experience. Fagan won with over 60% of the vote. She is serving her first term in the Oregon Senate where she is focusing on housing and bridging the gap between the Capitol and the people.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
I’ve lived in several places in East Portland, starting in childhood, wandering the streets ofthe Gateway shopping center and stuffing my mom’s purse with food at the all you can eat buffet at the old JJ North’s. Gateway is a good vision, but East Portland continues to lack a center, a gathering place that holds the community together. I am encouraged to see the newly installed sidewalks, crosswalks, and parks. But it is discouraging that so much was built in the last two decades without an urban planning lens focused on livability and equity.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
Midland Library, Pho on SE 82nd, PCC, Zenger Farms, Ventura Park, and the mural on SE 136th Ave.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
East Portland is a vibrant, diverse community that is multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational. East Portland boasts of more diversity than the rest of the city combined.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
Equity in services, property taxes, grocery stores, parks, living wage industry, and safe routes to walk, bike and e-scoot.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
East Portland has historically carried a heavier burden of the city’s tax revenue, but has received grossly less in services. That has lead to a resentment against the “hip liberal” Portland portrayed nationally.
What keeps you up at night worrying?
I worry about members of the community fighting among ourselves when times get tough. I worry about people living on the edge, judging people living outside without empathy.
What gives you hope?
The new generation of leaders rising up in East Portland who are young, diverse, progressive, and not taking anybody’s shit.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
Because on the first day of my stint, I have the opportunity to attend a public hearing on a legislative bill that will improve the stability of renters throughout East Portland.
Where can we find you online and/or in person once your week of tweeting is up?
www.fagan4oregon.com, www.facebook.com/ShemiaFagan, @senatorshemia on instagram and @shemiafagan on Twitter.