Leave No One Behind
HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS
A safe, affordable home is the stable foundation upon which people are able to thrive in life. State and local governments must help people meet this very basic need for a safe, secure place to live.
Oregon has about 22,000 homeless children and the second-worst rate of unsheltered homeless people in the country, according to a federal review, behind only California. It’s not just a Portland problem, either; it’s an issue across the state. Two of my old high school friends have died while homeless in McMinnville, and last I heard another was living unsheltered in Medford; two more friends are selling their furniture to survive and are on the brink of homelessness.
We know the burden of our failures is disproportionately borne by people of color who suffer inequities and racism embedded in our laws and policies. We have resources, we have tools, but we need ingenuity and political will – plus accountability – to ensure that resources are applied efficiently to actually make a difference.
Homelessness is the result of failures in many systems including: housing construction, criminal justice, behavioral health, and foster care. Tackling our homeless crisis will require dismantling silos among state agencies, building teams around shared aims, and setting a vision for our state to ensure that homelessness is rare and brief.
HEALTHY PEOPLE & SAFE COMMUNITIES
Feeling safe is one of our most basic needs and we know what keeps us safe: living in communities where people of every color and background have fair wages, great schools, affordable housing and health care. We are a strengthened state when women and girls are safe in their homes, leaders in their communities, and equal earners in the workplace. We are all safer when we address public health crises, such as addiction and untreated mental illness, with proven solutions like social support and services instead of an over-reliance on police.
Oregonians living on the edge and struggling to find housing and health care need access to services that flow through numerous state agencies. We must close the gaps between our systems of care, state agencies, and the organizations on the frontline if we hope to achieve a future where homelessness is rare and brief. Responding to Oregon’s most pressing issues requires investments that match the scale of our crises and a holistic approach across state agencies and programs to ensure those investments reach the people in need.
EQUITY & JUSTICE
Systemic racism historically shaped institutions and led to outcomes that Black and brown communities still grapple with today. In order to be a more equitable and just state in which all people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential, it is the moral responsibility of the governor to use all levers to address systemic inequalities. This work must be bold and innovative, and done in collaboration with the very communities who have been most harmed by inequitable policies and practices. We must lean into the wisdom and ingenuity of these communities across the state in order to ensure that Oregonians aren’t left behind.
I believe Oregonians want to join together across racial, ethnic, gender and geographic differences to build toward a better life for everyone and they want a leader who will fight to ensure we all have what we need to overcome our challenges and keep our families safe.
The reality of racism and the myriad ways systemic injustices have held people back from earning a fair wage or building economic security for their families must be acknowledged at every level of government. Inequities are not just about individual discrimination, for the larger problems are systemic. As governor I will fight for a stronger, healthier, more just future for all Oregonians.
The education system in Oregon must be more equitable and just for our children, from infancy on. We owe all children a fair start in life in the form of access to an education escalator. America’s education system should create opportunity, yet in Oregon it has transmitted advantage and disadvantage from one generation to the next.
We need to start by making greater investments with our youngest Oregonians by expanding pre-K because we have a below-average share of children participating in pre-K. We also need to provide sufficient resources and support for our students and teachers. When fewer than half of third-graders are on track for reading, and fourth-grade scores in math are seventh from bottom, and only 3 in 4 ninth-graders have the credits needed to be on track to graduate, education must be a top priority.
Unlike other states, Oregon also allows children to drop out of high school before age 18 if they get a job. The roots of these problems are complicated and go far beyond the education system – they include high rates of mental illness, addiction, foster care, and poverty – but we have to ensure that from infancy to higher education, we do a better job to prepare young Oregonians, ensure they graduate high school prepared for their next steps, and put them on track to be successful in their careers.