Portland City Council candidate Kimbra Cash answers OPB’s questions

The OPB has asked all candidates seeking a seat on the Portland City Council to answer a few questions about these issues. Below are answers from Kimbra Cash, the nominee for the third seat currently held by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. These answers have not been edited.

Brief biography:

She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon in a family of nine children. I grew up in the Jabal Tabor neighborhood and bought the house I grew up in from my parents.

I met my husband, Lars, at UofO, where we got engaged and rushed home to raise money for our wedding. That wedding was in 1983 – almost forty years ago – and we’re still together, and most importantly, we’re happily married and have three grown children.

In the end, she graduated with a BA in Psychology from Portland State University. I spent the next 30 years working in the legal field and volunteered in the city my whole life. Starting as a candy store (volunteer at a local hospital) and moving on to the Big Sister Program (a mentoring program) during high school. And that was just the beginning. I coached soccer and basketball and was a scout for my daughter when she was little. I still volunteer today. I am a joint regional advisor to the Oregon Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

I am an author and has five books published by three small publishing houses and many articles in magazines and newspapers.

Why are you running for city council? What experiences do you have in this matter?

I love Portland and all that the city has to offer. Unfortunately, the pandemic has destroyed small businesses and left many people in desperate poverty, disappointment and/or on the verge of losing their homes or completely homeless. I have new ideas to present to the city and am willing to work hard to achieve my goals.

With over 30 years in the legal field, plus a BA in Psychology and my team-oriented background, including work with the Morrison Center’s multifaceted Hand-in-Hand Program, as a behavioral foster parent for several years, and having been involved In and coached many team sports, I desire to offer a holistic approach to revitalizing business in Portland and downtown, including increasing safety, providing transitional and peer mental health services to our most vulnerable residents as well as partnering with organizations and nonprofits through a team approach to solving challenges that we face today. This will include reaching out to local neighbors through Neighborhood Associations, where I am on the NTNA Board of Directors. I want to bring together people with positive goals and increase individual investment in policies and programs that we can create together.

What offices do you want to run? Why do you think you are the one supervising them?

Portland Fire and Rescue, Portland Office of Transportation, and Office of Community and Civil Life. With my background in working with vulnerable youth, I would like to help bridge the gap by connecting people to city government to build inclusive, safe, and livable communities. I will also use my BA in Psychology to help build mental health partnerships with the Office of Community and Civic Life.

My experience working in law and human health services, gives me the right experience with people in crisis and trauma as well as working under difficult time constraints to do well with Portland Fire & Rescue.

I would like to work with the Portland Office of Transportation, where I have a variety of ideas to help reduce traffic-related deaths and increase the use of mass transit by restoring previously used safety measures, such as safety teams and the once popular Fareless reactivation. Square. In addition, I have additional ideas for making bike travel safer so that more people use green roads to get to work and leisure activities.

Are there offices that you do not want?

I would be happy to work with any of the offices.

What is one tangible action you will take once you enter your position to reduce the number of people living on the street?

I’ve already reached out to nonprofits trying to find ways to improve outcomes for the homeless. With the city behind me, I will immediately act to increase opportunities for transitional mental health services (including substance abuse), which will include peer mentoring that increases success rates for individuals.

By partnering with local healthcare facilities, we can help get people off the streets of Portland but more importantly, we can help them get the services they need to ultimately succeed.

My position is that getting people off the streets is not the whole goal.

I have a holistic approach. My agenda includes a greater focus than simply removing people from the streets. We need to help people get the services they need to succeed, so they don’t simply end up on the streets.

But I have many ideas. Such as simplifying the licensing process and reducing the cost of fees so that more facilities can be built.

If the city were to increase shelter supplies, would it support the demand for people living abroad to move to shelters?

I will use a team approach to help get people off the streets and into shelters. If individuals are reluctant to get off the street, we should employ social workers and therapists who can use their talents/skills and abilities to ascertain the reasons for their hesitation so that the city can work to find solutions to individual concerns. Like:

1) Many homeless shelters do not allow couples to be accommodated together (maybe we can work around this issue by locating the couples).

2) Some people don’t want to leave their pets on the streets (this is another problem we can work on).

3) I’m sure there are a whole lot of reasons why people are uncomfortable moving to a shelter, but with a compassionate and patient approach, I’m sure we can come up with solutions to help those who live abroad.

The Charter Committee is currently in the process of reviewing and making recommendations to the Portland Charter. Do you support changing the form of government? Why and why not? What specific changes would you support or recommend?

I support some of the ideas that have been put forward to change the Charter. However, I would suggest strengthening the partnership with the city and neighborhood associations, which already exist to give a voice to all Portlanders. I would like to see more funding and support go to neighborhood associations, which will help build a broader community and promote participation from all Portlanders.

Name the policy that the board has adopted in the past four years and that you have not agreed with. Why did you feel this way? What would you do differently?

– Withdrawal of police funds in the amount of 15 million dollars.

By looking at the crime statistics, you can see according to KOIN news:

“Portland, OR. (KOIN) – For Portland, 2021 was the most violent year ever, with the highest number of murders in a single year the city has ever trusted.”

I would increase funding for better training and to increase resources for the police so that they can access social workers and/or therapists, who can ride out police visits that have included people in crisis.

Protesters and racial justice advocates have called for years for a radical overhaul of the Portland Police Office. Do you think changes should be made to the police? If so, what?

I think improvements can be made. My goal is to provide better training and multiple resources so that the police have someone they can reach with expertise in mental health and substance abuse. These experts may be available to answer questions, provide input, and provide additional support services. I would like to have advocates available to ride with the police when they are dealing with individuals in volatile situations.

I think law enforcement personnel are currently expected to enforce laws while dealing with highly emotional issues and traumatized people. I think this can be done best by having a skilled and talented therapist to calm situations, while with the police.

Poll after poll has shown that voters are angry with city leaders for a variety of issues – garbage, homelessness and rising crime. Which of the many problems facing Portland do you see as a priority for your first term in office?

Priorities:

1) Affordable Housing

Affordable housing can be achieved through temporary rental assistance and by partnering with organizations/nonprofits to help bridge economic barriers and employment gaps so that every Portlander can be proud of their place of residence.

2) Mental health/safety

Expand pre-arrest intervention and referral programs and partner with local businesses to empower people affected by a lack of transitional health care. I will continue to support those affected by addiction, especially due to homelessness and poverty. Increase funding for safety and mental health partnerships.

3) Climate/Poverty Solutions

Use a radical approach to make real progress by offering tax incentives to reduce emissions and increase affordable/safe public transportation.

Involve local communities by coordinating with key partners, schools and businesses to build green landscapes and community gardens. Gardens will absorb carbon while reducing food insecurity for the homeless while working to find long-term solutions to climate challenges.

4) Support local business/tourism/travel

Supporting local businesses by working with community leaders to rebuild small businesses in Portland through local support. The community begins with citywide investments, including neighborhood associations for a collaborative process via public-private partnerships that increase the safety and sanitation of our beautiful city, parks, and rivers.

In your opinion, what can the city do to speed up the construction of affordable housing?

Streamline the permitting and inspection process, reduce wait times, eliminate or reduce fees and reduce feedback timelines.

What can be done to make Portland’s roads safer?

Return transit police/safety teams to buses and MAX. More people will ride mass transit if it is safe to do so.

Give priority to bikes and cars at the same time. Not everyone can ride a bicycle.

My husband immigrated from Denmark. I have been to Denmark many times and have seen their safe cycling system.

Traffic-related deaths have increased dramatically since Portland launched the “20 is Plenty” philosophy on April 1, 2018.

2018–34 traffic-related deaths

Those numbers have more than doubled in the past three years, even though the pandemic has cut off road traffic.

2019-51 Traffic-related deaths

2020-59 traffic-related deaths

2021–73 traffic-related deaths

Factors contributing to this astronomical increase in traffic fatalities include:

1) The city has eliminated car lanes on the streets. Two lanes going west and east were cut, each to one, significantly increasing the volume on one lane, based on the impact of several streets. But PBOT didn’t stop there.

2) In 2015, the PBOT studied the first phase of “traffic calming” with the “primary purpose of “reducing motor vehicle traffic” and “prioritizing cycling”.

I’d like to move the bikes up on one side of the sidewalk and bring back lanes that were cleared for cars, thus reducing congestion, road rage and street fatalities, while increasing bike safety, which would encourage more people to ride.

%d bloggers like this: