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County seat races wide open


COURTESY: MARISHA CHILDS  - Marisha Childs, an attorney and social justice activist, is one of many candidates in the Multnomah County District 1 race. COURTESY: MEL RADER - Mel Rader, executive director of the nonprofit Upstream Public Health, is one of several candidates for Multnomah County's District 1 seat. Two more candidates have jumped into the wide-open race for the Multnomah County District 1 seat, left without an incumbent since Jules Bailey withdrew to run for mayor.

Marisha Childs, an attorney, mom and urban farmer in Southeast Portland, says she’s running to focus on three priorities.

They are: to create more affordable housing opportunities, connecting seniors with mental health services, and improving food security for kids and families.

“Portland has a wealth of food and the ability to grow food, but lots of areas are still food deserts,” she says. She wants to boost fresh-food access in underserved neighborhoods and make sure kids get enough healthy food to thrive in school.

Childs grew up in Troutdale and earned her degree from the University of Oregon School of Law. She has two children at Winterhaven School in Southeast Portland.

She’s an ultramarathon runner and calls herself a “tenacious advocate” for her law clients, working to connect youth, seniors and other marginalized clients with social services.

As a black woman, Childs says she’s proud to represent communities who don’t always get a seat at the table. “There’s lots of people who don’t make up the monochromatic scene of Multnomah County and still need to feel like they’re welcome,” she says.

The District 1 position covers west Portland and part of inner Southeast Portland.

Also in the crowded District 1 race so far are emergency room doctor Sharon Meieran; Brian Zimmerman, chief of staff to Commissioner Diane McKeel; and community advocate Brian Wilson, who won 28 percent of the vote against Bailey in 2014 when running for Commissioner Deborah Kafoury’s seat.

The filing deadline for the May election is still two months away.

One other candidate, Mel Rader, a Southeast Portland progressive activist, has not yet filed for the District 1 seat but announced his intention to do so last week.

The executive director of the nonprofit Upstream Public Health launched his campaign with a promise to make the county a leader in environmental conservation, health justice and economic opportunity.

Rader has early endorsements from Metro Councilors Sam Chase and Bob Stacey.

In 2013, Upstream Public Health was at the forefront of a ballot measure to add flouride to Portland’s drinking water in order to improve the dental health of low-income children who don’t receive proper nutrition and dental hygiene.

Voters rejected the hot-button proposal, 60 percent to 40 percent. It was the fourth time flouridation had come to a vote in Portland since 1956.

“I believe the voters have spoken on water fluoridation in Portland,” he told the Tribune last week.

Yet since that vote, Rader says, he’s been working with advocates to develop a set of recommendations he wants to move forward with at the county level.

The recommendations include providing basic dental preventive services in child care centers, performing screenings and prevention in well child medical visits, and expanding school dental programs.

District 4 also crowded

In the county’s District 4 race, meanwhile, a candidate had filed earlier this month but now tells the Tribune he is no longer running — although his paperwork as of Monday does not show a withdrawal from the race.

Scott Anderson is a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office commander, former Troutdale Police Chief and former assistant Portland police chief.

Without Anderson, the District 4 race still has three contenders: Gresham City Councilor Lori Stegmann, union leader Amanda Schroeder and retired union representative Lynn Lehrbach.

Just one candidate has filed for the county’s District 3 seat, state Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson.