Smith brings passion for youth involvement and housing

With most of the candidates focused on turning around the economy at a local level, Estacada City Council candidate has his eyes on change for other areas. by: PHOTO BY JEFF SPIEGEL - Edward Smith is the third candidate for Estacada City Council, and hes hoping to inspire more youth involvement in the community and a new approach to housing.

Sure, the economy is at the forefront of his mind, but with Smith’s passion and experience in the housing industry, he thinks there are places Estacada could use his help.

Born and raised in Milwaukie, Smith has spent time in Michigan and Washington before eventually settling down back in Oregon.

For a number of years, Smith worked in construction before moving into warehousing. After time spent there, he found his calling in the recovery field.

“Right now I work for an organization called the recovery organization project,” he said. “We do democratic, self-supported drug and alcohol free housing.”

Smith has worked at the recovery organization project for seven years, where he is the field services supervisor. The group’s goal is to provide housing for drug and alcohol recovery, domestic violence surivors and the chronically homeless.

“We have 180 houses statewide and we serve over 1,500 families,” he said. “We believe people's voices have been silenced for so long, whether because of themselves or because of our society. Our members pay to live there, and each member has a role in the house, like president or treasurer or whatever. Basically, they’re running it by themselves so they’re learning how to get into a new way of life.

“Ideally, we’re teaching them to live in society and to be contributing members and taxpayers.”

Also very much infused in this program is the idea of community involvement and giving back to those around you, a principle that has largely influenced Smith’s interest in the City Council.

“I really believe in community and giving back,” he said. “I think a sense of community really does make a difference in people's lives.”

For Smith, Estacada wasn’t always his community, but now that he’s here, he can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Smith and his wife, Monica, moved to Estacada two years ago when they decided to escape the pressure of city living.

“We wanted to live in a more rural area, so we looked in Sandy, and it was too busy; and then we looked in Molalla, but it was too flat,” he said. “We came upon Estacada, though, and when we stumbled upon our house in Cazadero Heights, the view of the hills and the serenity of the area really sold me. We didn’t even walk into the house when I told my wife, ‘This is it.’”

Along with he and Monica, the Smiths have three children; Chloe, 19, Avery, 16, and Elijah, 7.

Smith's decision to join the race also can be attributed to the encouragement of neighbor — and fellow candidate — Sean Drinkwine.

“Sean knows I deal with a lot of government officials at work, so he pushed me into it,” Smith said. “I’ve learned that when a reasonable request is presented to me, I’ll investigate it and I will follow through on it if it’s reasonable.”

As a city councilor, Smith said he would set his sights on goal achievement.

“For me, there’s a few things. I’d like to see the economics developed here, but it’s a fine line to keep it small, and yet at the same time, there is so much here,” he said. “Second is youth involvement. As a society we forego youth opinions and I think the youth can think outside the box more than we can sometimes. So if we can get them experience at a small town level, it would change the lives of many of them, whether that’s through City Council or a community center of some sort.

“The third thing is affordable housing. I think that some people just need an opportunity, and the first thing people need is an affordable, nice place to come home to, but there’s obviously a responsibility to it. The biggest thing for me is giving people a voice and making sure they’re heard. That’s my biggest asset.”

Another large question for Smith is where his future lies in community involvement. While this would be a first step into local government, a part of him thinks it might be just the beginning.

“Do I want to be a politician? A small part of me says yes, but really I just want to be part of the community,” he said. “I might want to move up to a county level, but that’s really it. I really just want to show my kids that they can affect change, whether it’s in a small town like Estacada or wherever.”

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