Bringing your voice back into the process…
My top priority as Jackson County Commissioner will be to bring back the voices of community members in the decision making processes of the county. I will work with, revitalize, and expand our Citizen Advisory Committees to ensure that everyone in Jackson County has a voice, and a seat at the table.
We’ve got work to do…
Jackson County is a special place to live, and everyday I am grateful to be raising my family here. However, our county isn’t working for everyone, and we can change that. For too long, decisions have been made with little or no transparency. Services that are needed by our most vulnerable community members have been reduced or cut. We can change all of that, together.
We have a housing crisis in Jackson County, but there is so much we can do to address it. We need to:
Build more affordable housing. Right now it is estimated that we are 4,000 units short of full housing throughout the county. We need to build more housing, and it needs to be affordable. Recently the Housing Authority was awarded funding from the state to establish the Creekside Apartment complex in Central Point. The apartments will be affordable, and prioritized for families and veterans, helping to fill a gap that is far too wide.
We need six more “Creeksides” throughout Jackson County, and we need them now.
Level the playing field when it comes to the renter’s market in Jackson County. Right now there are people working full-time jobs, with good credit, who are on three year waiting lists for rentals. Far too often those community members are stuck on a carousel of applying, where they are charged application fees over and over again, by the same property management companies. Those who are lucky enough to land a rental are often paying up to 70% of their income on their rent. That is not sustainable, it’s not how you develop neighborhoods and communities, and it’s not the Jackson County way.
Review the current County Land Development Ordinance. We need to be more strategic and creative about residential land use in our unincorporated county lands. Zoning is a major issue when it comes to our cities and towns, and I plan to work with city officials throughout the county to develop zoning ordinances that make sense, within their communities.
If we all put our shoulders behind the housing issue, we can find solutions, and our neighbors can find homes.
Too many of our fellow community members are out of work, underemployed, or working two plus jobs because they can’t find living wage work in Jackson County. Our community thrives when everyone has economic opportunities, and when we have a strong, active, workforce. We need to:
Build more affordable housing. When we build homes and apartment complexes, we provide jobs for working families. From the contractor who installs the septic system, to the electricians that connect the structure to the grid, solving our housing crisis will also provide jobs. As communities grow, services will be put in to accommodate them, resulting in more jobs.
Nearly 1/5 of Jackson County community members live at or below the poverty level. We can change that by building more affordable housing, and encouraging businesses to create living wage jobs. As we create jobs and provide housing for our community, we need to be smart about it.
Work, and build smarter and harder. When it comes to jobs we need to be forward-thinking, and make sure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed. When the Clean Energy Jobs Bill passes at the state level, I will champion its implementation here in Jackson County and work to bring, living wage, 21st Century jobs to our community.
Those jobs will do everything from retrofit our current infrastructure and buildings to meet energy efficiency and safety standards, to developing and building microprocessors for medical use. There are scores of workers throughout our county with the skills needed to get to work on energy efficient, smart builds right away. For those areas where there are gaps in our workforce, we can help train people.
Train our workforce here, at home.
As County Commissioner I will collaborate with the Economic Development Committee, our skilled workers, business leaders, community organizations, and educational institutions to develop, implement, and expand apprenticeship and worker training programs. We need to provide an alternative to colleges and universities that will allow young people to develop the skills they need to compete. A college education is a wonderful thing, but college is not for everyone.
Through expanded training and apprenticeship programs, we can develop a more flexible, modern workforce, while still maintaining the skilled workers every community needs. Through leadership and collaboration I will help provide job training for young people, so they don’t have to leave our valley to start their lives.
The American health care system is broken, with soaring costs, and continued declines in overall health and services. That broken system has been exacerbated here in Jackson County by decisions that have been made by our County leaders. Their inability to maintain successful partnerships with Coordinated Care Organizations, and to have plans in place to fill gaps in service should those relationships fail, have made things worse for those most in need. As County Commissioner, I will help our community:
Reprioritize how we look at healthcare in our community
Medical services, particularly mental health and addiction services are beyond insufficient for a community the size of Jackson County. Too many of our neighbors, suffering from mental health issues and addiction, end up crowding our jails in a never-ending cycle. Before we spend 100 million dollars on a new jail, we need to make sure that we are addressing the real sources of the problems our community faces. We can do better, and it begins with a new approach to how the County handles its health care responsibilities.
As Commissioner I will work with Health and Human Services, the Public Health Advisory Board, CCO’s, community members, organizations, and experts throughout the County to make health care a priority and ensure that everyone has access to the health care and services they need.
Invest in prevention and treatment
Mental illness and addiction are medical conditions that afflict our family, friends, and neighbors, they are not moral failings. We need to work on prevention and treatment of these conditions, and stop treating them like they are crimes, or simply pushing responsibility for them off onto our dedicated law enforcement.
Studies have shown that treatment is less expensive than incarceration. Our current system, where too many community members, suffering from mental illness, or struggling with addiction end up in a revolving door scenario in our local jail is not working.
As Commissioner, I will bring together medical professionals, experts within the County, the Local Alcohol and Drug Planning and the Mental Health Advisory Committees, and organizations like the National Association for Mental Illness to address mental health and addiction from a medical perspective. Together, we can help our friends and neighbors through tough times, and stop treating them like they are criminals.
On the Environment—
A healthy, thriving environment is the foundation of any community. Ours has been under attack for far too long. From mismanagement of our forests, to carelessness with our water systems, we have taken for granted the natural wonder that is Jackson county, and we are currently paying the price. The last two summers have seen megafires in our forests, and smoke filled skies that have impacted our public health, damaged our local economy, and taken a toll on our community. We need a balanced, progressive approach when it comes to our responsibilities as stewards of the land. We need to:
Take action about the smoke. The past two summers the smoke in the region has been intolerable for long stretches, and downright hazardous at times. The time for action is now, and we have the beginnings of a plan. Taking from the Rogue Basin Action Plan, and working state and federal agencies, and local experts we can begin to address the smoke in our communities.
We need a systematic approach to forest management that includes targeted logging of smaller, fire intolerant trees, prescribed burning in the wetter months, and providing our first responders with the support and resources they need to fight wildfires when they do occur.
Manage our water resources. Clean, abundant water is essential for life, and the foundation of a thriving ecology here in the Pacific Northwest. As our climate continues to change, and seasons get drier and hotter, demands on our water resources will continue to increase. We have to be proactive to ensure that we can provide clean water for our community, while providing the water needed for our agricultural and ecotourism industries that employ thousands of community members throughout the County.
If elected, I will bring together the Natural Resources Advisory Committee, the Marijuana Advisory Committee, representatives from the agricultural community, along with local experts to develop evidence-based, reasonable water management plans that will make our environment healthier, while providing the water resources we need throughout the county.
Address Climate Change. The past five years have been four of the five hottest on record in Jackson County. We have been hit with droughts that have seen our creeks dry up, our snowpack disappear, and our rivers dwindle. The past two summers we were provided a taste of what climate change will continue to do to our local forests, our skies, and our health. We must act locally to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change on our community.
We can take steps to become a state leaders in climate change issues. As Commissioner, I will work to move our County away from fossil fuels, in favor of sustainable, clean energy sources. I will push for energy efficiency standards in all of our new buildings and infrastructure. At the same time, I will see where we can retrofit our existing structures to make them more energy efficient.
As County Commissioner, I will create a Climate Change Advisory Committee to help our County become a leader in addressing climate change at a local level. We have highly regarded climate change experts in our community who can work hand in hand with County officials to address what is the most pressing, important environmental issue of our time. Together, we can make sure our children, and grandchildren will not see our smoky skies of the past two summers as ‘normal’.