Pamplin Media Group – Meet the Candidates for the Multnomah County Commission

Campaign contributions for county chairman and District 2 candidates show disparities.

The races for two seats on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners are now set.

The filing deadline for the upcoming May 17 primary was Tuesday, March 8.

Six candidates will compete for the chair of the Multnomah County Board of Directors, a position that represents all residents of Multnomah County and serves as the chief executive officer of the county government.

Three candidates are vying for District 2’s seat on the board. The district covers all of North Portland, most of Northeast Portland—west of northeast 148th Avenue and north of Interstate 84—and part of the North Tabor neighborhood.

For the first time since 2014, the name of the current board chair, Deborah Kafoury, will not appear on ballots because the position is time-limited.

Three current county commissioners are seeking the council chair position: Sharon Meieran, Jessica Vega Pederson and Lori Stegmann, who represent Districts 1, 3 and 4 respectively.

The other three nominees for board chair are Sharia Mayfield, an employment discrimination lawyer and adjunct law professor at Willamette University; Joe Demers, truck driver for Portland Disposal and Recycling; and perennial local contender Bruce Broussard, talk show host and retired United States Marine Corps veteran.

Shannon Singleton, Governor Kate Brown’s director of equity and racial justice, has withdrawn her candidacy for county president to become acting director of the Portland and Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services.

For the District 2 seat, outgoing Commissioner Susheela Jayapal is seeking election for a second term.

Challengers in this race include Elizabeth Taylor Dixon, a retired former sales and management training employee at Xerox; and Derry Jackson, teacher and former member of the Portland Public Schools Board.

Brian Landon, who previously filed for the District 2 seat, withdrew his candidacy because he likely would not meet the residency requirements, according to candidate withdrawal records.

Candidates must garner more than 50% of the votes in the primary to be elected to the position. If no one gets more than 50%, the two candidates with the most votes will face off in a runoff in the Nov. 8 general election.

Here are the candidate summaries, including the amount of money each campaign has raised so far:

MULTNOMAH COUNTY COUNCIL CHAIRPERSON

FILE PMG PHOTO - Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson

Candidate: Jessica Vega Pederson

Occupation: Multnomah County Commissioner

Public Experience: Multnomah County Commissioner, District 3 (since 2017); Oregon House of Representatives, District 47 (2013-17)

Website: jessicavegapederson.com

Campaign contributions to date: $62,357

Other Information: Vega Pederson has been endorsed by prominent elected officials, including Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, unions such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 75 and Local 88, and Portland Superintendent of Public Schools Guadalupe Guerrero.

FILE PMG PHOTO - Commissioner Lori Steggman

Candidate: Lori Stegmann

Occupation: Insurance agent/small business owner for Farmers Insurance; Multnomah County Commissioner

Public Experience: Multnomah County Commissioner, District 4 (since 2017); Councilor of Gresham (2011-17)

Website: votelori.com

Campaign contributions to date: $46,355

Other notable tidbits: An East County champion, Stegmann is well known for changing her political party affiliation from Republican to Democrat in 2018, saying, “As a woman, business owner, mother, immigrant and minority, I cannot tolerate the misogyny, racism, and unethical and immoral behavior” of the Trump administration.

COURTESY PHOTO - Commissioner Sharon Meieran

Candidate: Sharon Meieran

Profession: Emergency physician; Multnomah County Commissioner

Public Experience: Multnomah County Commissioner, District 1 (2017-present)

Website: votesharon.com

Campaign contributions to date: $48,309

Other notable information: Meieran has been outspoken about the need for Multnomah County to take additional action to address homelessness and is a volunteer care provider with Portland Street Medicine.

Candidate: Sharia Mayfield

Profession: Lawyer and Adjunct Professor of Law at Willamette University College of Law

Public experience: Intelligence and National Security Advisor to US Senator Ron Wyden (2014-16); Assistant Attorney General, Oregon Department of Justice (2016-18)

Website: votemayfield.com

Campaign contributions to date: $10,536

Other notable tidbits: Mayfield says she became a civil rights activist after her father, Brandon Mayfield, a Muslim convert, was wrongfully detained in a Portland jail in connection with the 2004 Madrid bombings , in Spain, due to a false fingerprint match. A judge ordered her release when Mayfield was 12, and she and her father later co-wrote a book called “Improbable Cause: The War on Terror’s Assault on the Bill of Rights.”

PMG FILE PHOTO - Joe Demers

Candidate: Joe Demers

Occupation: Truck driver for Portland Disposal and Recycling

Public Experience: None

Website: joeformultco.com

Campaign contributions to date: No filings, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.

Other notable information: Demers is a former council candidate for the Gresham-Barlow School District.

Candidate: Bruce Broussard

Occupation: Retired Marine Corps veteran

Public Experience: None

Website: None

Campaign contributions to date: $140

Other notable information: Broussard has been involved in Portland-area politics for years, hosting the cable access talk show “Oregon Voters Digest” and organizing several unsuccessful campaigns for the Portland City Council and the Council of Multnomah County Commissioners.

PHOTO FILE PMG - Bruce Broussard

MULTNOMAH COUNTY COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT 2

FILE PMG PHOTO - Commissioner Susheela Jayapal

Candidate: Susheela Jayapal

Occupation: Multnomah County Commissioner

Public Experience: Multnomah County Commissioner, District 2 (2018-present)

Website: susheelaformultco.com

Campaign contributions to date: $48,090

Other notable tidbits: As county commissioner, Jayapal, an attorney who last worked as general counsel for Adidas America, has been an advocate for racial justice, domestic violence survivors, homeless services shelter and rights of immigrants and refugees.

Candidate: Elizabeth Taylor Dixon

Occupation: Retired

Public Experience: Legislative Intern for Former Oregon State Senator William McCoy

Website: None

Campaign contributions to date: No reporting, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.

Other notable information: Taylor Dixon marched in Atlanta with former U.S. Representative John Lewis and civil rights activists Andrew Young and Lee Brown, according to her candidate filing documents.

COURTESY PHOTO - Derry JacksonCandidate: Derry Jackson

Profession: Freelance math teacher/tutor for business professions

Public experience: Member of the Portland Public Schools Board of Trustees (1999-2001); member of the Oregon Ballot-by-Mail Commission; Chairman of Multnomah County Citizens Participation Committee (1992-96)

Website: None

Campaign contributions to date: No reporting, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.

Other notable tidbits: Jackson announced last year that he would run for Oregon’s newly formed 6th congressional district. He has since suspended his campaign to run for a seat on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. In the early 2000s, Jackson made anti-Semitic remarks, which led to his resignation from the Portland Public Schools Board.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story named Brian Landon as the candidate for District 2 seat. Landon is no longer running for the job.

Max Egener
Journalist
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