PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Gov.-elect Tina Kotek has kept a low profile since winning the gubernatorial race a month ago. But Monday Kotek laid out her top 3 goals at a gathering of Oregon business leaders.
Kotek said the state faces many key issues, including homelessness, as well as addiction and mental health crises. The governor-elect said it will take a partnership between the state, county, city and local businesses to work on these issues.
“Our entire state benefits when Portland is healthy and economically thriving,” she said Monday. “The metro region is facing serious challenges and I will not be hands off while local families and businesses struggle.”
She’s been meeting weekly with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair-elect Jessica Vega Pederson to talk about funding for homeless programs and housing.
Much of the discussion is likely around who will pay for what – homeless camps, affordable housing, mental health and addiction treatment.
The former head of the Central City Concern, Ed Blackburn, said Oregon has a lot of catching up to do.
“So supply is just not financing. It’s also communities being willing to accept these buildings,” he said. “On the West Coast we are way down on the capacity of shelter beds compared to the East Coast and other countries,” he said.
And Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said he would like to bring back some of the neighborhood precincts that were eliminated.
“I think for me it’s re-examining the service model, how can you put, maybe smaller precincts in that can be more responsive in many ways,” Lovell said.
In many ways, time is ticking to help get people off the streets. Portland’s homeless issue impacts that state nationally. For instance, the management of the Portland Trail Blazers is working to attract the NBA All-Star Game to the city.
“We’ll have folks from the NBA come out and obviously check out the great things we’re building, the hotels. We’re getting up to speed in all those areas, but when they’re in and around the city and they don’t see it in the state that it could be for something like an All-Star Game, then that’s something that can create real challenges for us.”
Kotek also acknowledged she needs to build trust in government among the public, especially since she won by a relatively narrow margin in a 3-way race. She announced she will visit each of the 36 Oregon counties by the end of next year on a “One Oregon Listening Tour.”