Although new Multnomah County Commissioner District 3 Jessica Vega Pederson had already taken her oath of office the previous day in the Board of Commissioners chambers on S.E. Grand at Hawthorne, she held a second swearing-in ceremony on the morning of January 4 – at the Portland Community College Southeast Campus at S.E. Division and 82nd Avenue of Roses.
"I'm thrilled to have an event open to the public in the heart of my district," remarked Vega Pederson with a smile.
The ceremonial area on the second floor of the college's library was filled to capacity, as the second swearing-in got underway, just after 9:00 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the New Year.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury thanked Vega Pederson for inviting her to speak at the occasion. "Serving on the Board of Commissioners is a tremendous responsibility; one that is both humbling and inspiring," she began. "This is hard work, and I'm very glad that the voters saw that Jessica has what it takes to help solve those problems."
Part of being a successful elected official, Kafoury opined, is "knowing how to bring the community to the table; and, this is where Jessica excels. She knows the challenges facing families in her area."
A day after taking the oath of office, administered by Multnomah County Judge John A. Wittmayer, Vega Pederson spoke at PCC: "I'm here today to dig into the job. [Yesterday's ceremony] was very nice, but in my heart, I knew that for my office to be most meaningful, it needed to be done here, in the district with our people."
District 3 covers a good portion of Inner Southeast Portland – from S.E. Cesar Chavez Boulevard (39th) east, extending well into Outer East Portland.
"In my district, we're not looking to be exceptional, but we are tired of being the exception!" Vega Pederson said.
Conditions on the street where she and her family live in the Hazelwood neighborhood inspired her to run for the seat, she said. "The [Shel Silverstein] poem, 'Where The Sidewalk Ends', isn't just a poem – it's the reality on our street.
"While I want to be a commissioner for all of Multnomah County, I know that the residents of Southeast Portland need a strong voice advocating for the issues that most affect their lives: Affordable housing, transportation, equity, and a working social safety net," Vega Pederson told the group.
In her remarks, she called for the people of her district to have an "equal shot". After completing her remarks, Vega Pederson defined what she means by "providing an equal shot" for THE BEE: "It is that everyone has a safe and sustainable community, anywhere they live, in Multnomah County.
"This means everyone, no matter how long they've lived here, has an equal opportunity for economic success and [obtaining] services," Pederson continued. "I think it's also making sure that Multnomah County is a leading voice for critical issues in our state, such as in transportation and the environment."
Learn more about Commissioner Vega Pederson by visiting her website: multco.us/commissioner-vega-pederson