Amanda Schroeder is running for Multnomah County commissioner in District 4. Here are her responses to Street Roots' 2016 general-election questionnaire. (Read other candidate responses.)
1. By nearly every metric, people of color are overrepresented throughout the criminal justice system. What are you going to do to correct that?
I will continue to support strong oversight of the criminal justice system. In order for a symptom to be cured, the disease has to be named and an agreed treatment program accepted. White privilege is an incredibly difficult concept to wrap one’s brain around since it challenges the systemic and intrinsic construct of white supremacy. People in power do not wish to see that systemic racism has placed them in any sort of advantage. It is time to ensure that people of color are part of the conversation that steers policy. I would invite community leaders, both secular and faith-based, to the table to determine policy, to promote empowerment and to deconstruct the system of privilege that is currently in place.
2. Across the county, there is a massive imbalance of resources for people in need, with services concentrated in Portland. How do you see the county’s role in getting its various municipalities to step up with dedicated resources to what is a regional need?
As a resident of East County, I find this question to be quite interesting. Living on the East Side – with only a tiny bit of Portland municipality on the inside of our borders to the west, it is often felt that we are left completely out of the realm of consideration and special prioritizations.
I think what is critical, when looking at the imbalance of resources and involving municipalities to share dedicated resources for a regional good, is securing and maintaining good working relationships with the relevant levels of government, being proactive with work across perceived boundaries with various nonprofit and non-government organizations, and recognition of absolute and immediate need.
What I always compare this particular resource allocation concern with is when my daughter needed braces, we did not pay our son (who did not need braces) $3,500 to be equitable, because he did not have that need.
3. According to county statistics, ambulances responded to more than a dozen opiate overdoses each week in 2014, prompting steps to limit dosing. But one OHSU doctor even said, “We cannot emphasize enough the importance of expanding addiction treatment as well. We cannot decrease the access to opioids without having effective treatments available to patients.” What are you going to do to curb opiate deaths and addiction?
I would like to review the allocation of resources countywide to ensure that we get more funding to assist those struggling with addiction. I would like to see more facilities that can case manage both mental health and addiction services. We need to invest in long-term addiction treatment facilities that provide not only immediate rehabilitation services, but also reintegration services with emphasis on sponsor/sponsee relationships and continuing support – both with physical and mental obstacles upon completion of such a difficult program.
4. In addition to the issues addressed above, what do you want to fix in the city?
I want attrition to go down and opportunity to increase; I want to augment the SUN (Schools Uniting Neighborhoods) programs with additional funding. My goal is to connect SUN school curriculum with Oregon Food Bank’s program “Cooking Matters” as early as fifth grade to facilitate a healthier, more nourished and empowered childhood for many of our most vulnerable residents of Multnomah County.
5. Why should people vote for you and not the other guy?
I have lived a life of service. I help people, individually and anonymously – those who I know and those who I don’t. I have mobilized and organized, at a grassroots level, people around issues such as voters’ rights, women’s rights, domestic violence awareness and prevention, sexual violence awareness and protection, workers’ rights.
I believe that we should pass Measure 97, and have single-payer health care, a Tenant’s Bill of Rights and an end to “no cause” evictions and crazy inflation of rental units. I fully support campaign finance reform, and although I am a lifelong Democrat, I do not toe party lines, but rather approach each issue as unique with critical thinking determining my path.
When I was local president of my union, I never once signed a collective bargaining agreement or memorandum of understanding without getting insight and feedback from the people I was representing at the time (Veterans Affairs and had employees who ranged from claims adjudicators, to plastic surgeons, to gravediggers to police officers.)
I am an Army veteran, mother, wife, union organizer and community mobilizer. I am a member of the working class and have done this campaign working 40 hours a week because the working class needs a seat at the table where the decisions are made that affect our lives.