This Week's Curator: Eddy Morales, Gresham City Councilor
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and what keeps you busy all day/week.
My name is Eddy Morales. I am founder of East County Rising a membership-based organization working to make the lives of people in East Multnomah County better by engaging them in the political process and encouraging people to run for office. I am one of their first candidates, and as of January 8, 2019, I serve on Gresham City Council, where I represent the people of Gresham—Oregon’s 4th largest city and one of the most diverse.
Tell us about your neighborhood. What are the ups and downs of it?
East Portland, Gresham, Wood Village, Troutdale, Fairview all blend into one area with many voices in East County. For example, Gresham’s average age is 35 and has 37% people of color. While this has been the case for a long time, the elected leadership in the area did not fully reflect this, nor the priorities of all the community. Through East County Rising we are changing that, and in turn, working for a more prosperous East County or everyone.
What are your favorite East Portland things to do and places to go?
I love that our neighborhoods are filled with so much diversity in people, culture, and food. I also love our proximity to the outdoors, such as Mt Hood, Multnomah Falls, The Gorge and its hiking trails. I love our urban centers and historic main streets. Most of all, I love the people who live here.
What do you think people don’t know about East Portland that they should know?
We are one of the most diverse regions of the state. More than 100 languages are spoken here, and some of school districts are over 60 percent students of color.
What do you think would be most helpful for people in East Portland?
People in East County need to connect more with neighbors through groups like East County Rising, which is working to build power for our community at the local, state, and federal level. More people in East County should run for office and work with community groups to get their ideas out in the public and bring them to fruition.
How do you think your Portland matches up with the Portland you’ve seen in media?
East County is much richer in culture than what is presented in the media. Not everyone in Oregon looks or lives like those portrayed in “Portlandia.”
What keeps you up at night worrying?
Increasing costs of living and stagnated wages, especially for disproportionately-impacted communities, are my greatest concern. We have to tackle the housing crisis; provide people with comprehensive healthcare, including mental health; ensure a quality education from pre-k through college and trades programs; and we have to ensure there are good union jobs with better pay and benefits, so families can rise out of poverty. Gun violence and our alarming rates of criminalization are also deeply concerning for me.
What gives you hope?
Every day, more people are stepping up to lead their community through non-profits, philanthropy, service, or running for office! I especially appreciate those coming from the communities most impacted, who have stepped up to help their families and their neighbors. They bring important perspectives, ideas, and knowledge to the discussion and become decision makers, leaders, and inspirers.
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
I think it is a fun way to have conversations with the people of East County, and others who are interested in sharing ideas. I hope this can also shed some light into my life, and what it is like to be an activist, advisor, elected official, balancing family and friendships. I am excited to hear people’s ideas, questions, and thoughts.
Where can we find you online and/or in person once your week of tweeting is up?