October 28, 2010

Proud of My Vote for Karol Collymore

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:26 am by Nova Newcomer

Originally posted on BlueOregon.com.

The first time I ever heard the words Multnomah County was in kindergarten when I went to the Albina Library on NE 15th down the street from my house on 13th and Prescott. I was so proud to have my very own card to check out my very own library books. That started my love affair with our County library system and little did I know how important that social safety net would be for me.

As a child I would often escape on my bike to the library from a home life that was chaotic. I found solace in the dreams and wonder that filled the shelves of the Hollywood, Belmont, Woodstock, even the Central Library. No matter how often I was uprooted, there was always a library there to help get me through rough times. I think many children’s first knowledge of the existence of Multnomah County is through their neighborhood library.

Unfortunately, I also saw another side of Multnomah County as a ward of the court from the age of 11. I was picked up weekly by a Multnomah County caseworker for supervised visits with my mom. That caseworker saw us through a difficult time and though I wanted more than anything not to leave school early each week for those visits, looking back it helped me stay connected to my mom, which despite her ultimate failings (she passed away at 46 of a drug overdose), was very important to me.

So, perhaps not unlike a lot of voters this year, my choices in this election are personal. And voters are blessed with two wonderful female public servants to choose between for Multnomah County’s District 2 seat. And no matter the outcome, our community is better served with their leadership. Because parity for women in elected office is important to me, it’s always hard to see two women have to go head-to-head when we so desperately need more women running for office.

There are many reasons Karol Collymore is my choice for Multnomah County District 2 Commissioner, but first and foremost, because she inspires me to be a better citizen. And in these difficult times, we need people with energy, enthusiasm and the creativity to work on our most challenging issues. When Karol moved to Oregon, she got involved immediately. She didn’t let being a newcomer keep her from immersing herself as a community advocate.

In her 3 years at the County in Jeff Cogen’s office (Jeff Cogen is one of her biggest supporters), she has worked collaboratively with community members on important community revitalization efforts like the new North Portland Library in Kenton and the Farmers Market in St. Johns among others. And courage, one of the most desired traits we look for in our public officials, is not something Karol strives for — it’s something innate in her. Evident in her long-time work for equality and support for gay marriage, it’s not enough for Karol to state her position — she’s going to be the one leading the march in the parade. We need more leaders with Karol’s courage fighting for vital services.

When I think back to the vital role that Multnomah County services played in my childhood, I want to know that someone like Karol with in-depth knowledge of how the County works and the courage to take a stand is there advocating tirelessly to help today’s kids in need.

I understand it’s a hard choice between two experienced, hard-working community members who bring different strengths to this race, but with her energy, courage and track record at the County, I am proud to have sent in my vote for Karol Collymore. I hope you will too.