Newly-appointed state senators address county issues

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In accordance with state law, Clackamas County Commissioners recently appointed Bill Kennemer and Kayse Jama to fill vacant Oregon Senate seats. Kennemer fills the District 20 seat following Alan Olsen’s resignation. Jama assumes the District 24 seat vacated by Shemia Fagan after she was elected Oregon Secretary of State.

Sen. Bill Kennemer Interview

Bill Kennemer

92391

I serve on the Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery Committee and that's particularly germane at this time because 187,000 acres burned (in the 2020 wildfires). We are going to have to help reclaim that land and talk about what we can do in the future to avoid that kind of catastrophic destruction. Other issues include getting our schools reopened and our citizens vaccinated. Another huge issue is traffic congestion.

92391

This has been a long standing issue for the county. Trying to create available and affordable housing is always a challenge. I think part of that is in zoning. The county has done a lot of hard work in trying to create an urban area that is accessible, affordable and has the services it needs.

We need to be looking at home repair loans, because a lot of homes need upgrading. Energy-saving assistance is important as the cost of utilities and services increase. A process we've had in Clackamas County is a provision for some public housing for low-income residents. I think we have to look at how to augment that as well.

92391

Some of the things that we have already worked on in the committee are special permitting assistance and trying to provide for hazardous materials removal. We're going to have a couple of major bills on prevention and recovery from the wildfires. These bills are still in process. We are trying to figure out how to craft these bills in a way that is comprehensive yet feasible.

More than 80% of Clackamas County is in forest land, which is a remarkable amount. As we rebuild, we need to go back and look at defensible spaces and create some policies that will probably be a joint effort between the county and state.

92391

As we really get into wildfire recovery, we need to look at some very practical things such as extending permit times because it takes a long time to clean up and figure out what you want to do with your property, and it can involve difficult financial matters.

92391

The delegation and region recognize these bottlenecks, the Abernethy and Boone bridges. I can't promise you what we're going to do, but it certainly is big time on the radar. These pinch points are really serious problems for transportation and efficiency. Not only that, but when you’ve got people parked in traffic on the freeway, that's not good for pollution and some of the other values that we hold dear.

We have got to look seriously at what we're going to do about the huge bottleneck that's right in the heart of our area.

Another one that we have to look out for is the Sunrise corridor, which goes back to the days when I served as a Clackamas County Commissioner.

92391

We need to get beyond partisan politics and share the common vision and common perspective that there is hard work to be done here, and it takes a united force to make it happen.

Chair Smith has been really terrific at communicating with me and others and helping us come to grips with what the goal common goals are, what the needs are, and how to make that happen. I know all of the commissioners well and hear from them frequently. I think that's a partnership that will make a difference.

92391

You can only remodel an old building for so long. Many years ago, the volume involved in that building was nothing like it is today, both in terms of cases and also a dramatic change in the number of judges. There are a lot of issues with that old building. It doesn't meet safety requirements and it's not seismically sound. It's just plain old and inadequate

It is just a very expensive proposition, but it is one proposition that I feel we need. I'll be doing my fair share to see what we can do to ante up some money from the state and work with the county and the joint venture to get it completed, hopefully in the near future.

92391

It's really important to have town halls to go out into the community and hear people's concerns and create an avenue and a pathway for two-way communication. This COVID situation has made that very difficult. Frankly, with some of the technological solutions, like virtual town halls, you miss a good many of the people that we're talking about.

At this point, I am largely limited to people sending me an email or giving me a call and I'm not the only one. We have a bunch of senators and representatives in the county and I think all of them are open and eager to work with people and to meet needs. That is what public service is about; reaching out to everyone to the degree that we can, meeting their needs or helping them figure out how they can fulfill their needs.

I try to send out periodic newsletters and ask for feedback. People who send me emails get a response because that is the responsibility of senators and representatives. I think I have had a history of being accessible and I think that's one of the key features of a public servant. I am eager to always help people as best I can and respond to their needs.

92391

I am a psychologist by trade and have spent a lot of years doing public service because I think it is consistent with my practice of helping people. I guess that has been my mission. It has been neat to help people make a difference.

I returned to Clackamas County back in 1974 and it's been my home ever since. My kids went to school here. Interestingly, all four of our kids live within 15 miles of us and in Clackamas County, so we're kind of Clackamas County rooted. All but three of our 12 grandchildren live in the county too. We're Clackamas County people and we're devoted to this county.

92391

Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a difficult process. Making sure that we recover from the wildfires will also be important to me as a state senator.

Also, the low-income community who are struggling to make ends meet, and of course our small businesses, particularly those who hit hard by the pandemic. Helping and supporting those folks to recover from COVID- 19 is going to be a top priority of mine as we move forward as a district.

92486

Even before pandemic started, we were having a housing crisis, particularly a shortage of housing supply. Secondly, there has been a huge gap on home ownership. For example in the black community, only about 35% own homes compared to their white counterparts, who are at about 65% ownership. The Latinx and Native American communities are not far behind in terms of the racial gap in home ownership. We have to address some of those gaps as we move forward.

We also have to address tenants who are struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic. We have Senate Bill 282 to try to address the needs of renters, but we also need to support the landlords.

Of course, homelessness is another crisis that we're facing. Addressing these issues will be my top priority as Chair of the Housing Committee.

92486

As a member of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Caucus, we have a set of bills and legislative agenda that we must put forward.

Supporting small businesses that are owned by underrepresented communities will be a key aspect of recovery, but also making sure overall that we have prosperity among all of us in our community.

92486

We cannot hold back the investment like the transportation package bill that we passed, HB 2017, which is called Keep Oregon Moving. HB 2017 is going to be implementing key elements of safety and investment strategy.

92486

We just have to make sure that the Clackamas County Commissioners, Clackamas County Caucus, as well as those who are providing services in our community are all working together. We need to communicate and put together our agenda collectively as we address some of those challenges.

92486

I am very grateful that I was invited by (Clackamas County Circuit Court) Judge Kathie F. Steele to tour the facility. I was able to see with my own eyes how debilitating this building is and how difficult it is for the folks working there, struggling to make sure they can provide services necessary for our community

I made a commitment to Judge Steele and the rest of the community members that I will support the effort to get the investment and funding necessary to make sure that we build a new courthouse.

92486

I think my lived experience reflects the majority of the district’s experience, where people are struggling and we have a lot of low-income and working class community members. We need diversity of ideas, we need diversity of experience, and we need the diversity of all our communities.

My hope is that I will bring those experiences that I share with the community to Salem and hopefully that will reflect some of the policy changes that I am going to be putting forward as a state senator.

92486

Equity benefits all of us. It doesn't only benefit those people who are struggling. When we take care of those who are struggling the most, we all benefit. It uplifts the entire community, so equity is very important to me.

I spent 22 years as a community organizer working to ensure that the state of Oregon is equitable for all Oregonians. That is the work that I have done before I came to the Senate, and I'm going to continue to be a champion for all Oregonians, regardless of their background.

92486

I would like Clackamas Community members to know that I am collaborative. I like to work with people collectively and bring issues to the table. When a disagreement happens, we can work through it together.

My hope is that Clackamas County residents will get to know me. I am here to be their voice and I'm here to work with them, side-by-side to address some of the challenges that we're facing at both the county and state levels.

92486

Sen. Kayse Jama Interview

Kayse Jama

92486

I serve on the Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery Committee and that's particularly germane at this time because 187,000 acres burned (in the 2020 wildfires). We are going to have to help reclaim that land and talk about what we can do in the future to avoid that kind of catastrophic destruction. Other issues include getting our schools reopened and our citizens vaccinated. Another huge issue is traffic congestion.

92391

This has been a long standing issue for the county. Trying to create available and affordable housing is always a challenge. I think part of that is in zoning. The county has done a lot of hard work in trying to create an urban area that is accessible, affordable and has the services it needs.

We need to be looking at home repair loans, because a lot of homes need upgrading. Energy-saving assistance is important as the cost of utilities and services increase. A process we've had in Clackamas County is a provision for some public housing for low-income residents. I think we have to look at how to augment that as well.

92391

Some of the things that we have already worked on in the committee are special permitting assistance and trying to provide for hazardous materials removal. We're going to have a couple of major bills on prevention and recovery from the wildfires. These bills are still in process. We are trying to figure out how to craft these bills in a way that is comprehensive yet feasible.

More than 80% of Clackamas County is in forest land, which is a remarkable amount. As we rebuild, we need to go back and look at defensible spaces and create some policies that will probably be a joint effort between the county and state.

92391

As we really get into wildfire recovery, we need to look at some very practical things such as extending permit times because it takes a long time to clean up and figure out what you want to do with your property, and it can involve difficult financial matters.

92391

The delegation and region recognize these bottlenecks, the Abernethy and Boone bridges. I can't promise you what we're going to do, but it certainly is big time on the radar. These pinch points are really serious problems for transportation and efficiency. Not only that, but when you’ve got people parked in traffic on the freeway, that's not good for pollution and some of the other values that we hold dear.

We have got to look seriously at what we're going to do about the huge bottleneck that's right in the heart of our area.

Another one that we have to look out for is the Sunrise corridor, which goes back to the days when I served as a Clackamas County Commissioner.

92391

We need to get beyond partisan politics and share the common vision and common perspective that there is hard work to be done here, and it takes a united force to make it happen.

Chair Smith has been really terrific at communicating with me and others and helping us come to grips with what the goal common goals are, what the needs are, and how to make that happen. I know all of the commissioners well and hear from them frequently. I think that's a partnership that will make a difference.

92391

You can only remodel an old building for so long. Many years ago, the volume involved in that building was nothing like it is today, both in terms of cases and also a dramatic change in the number of judges. There are a lot of issues with that old building. It doesn't meet safety requirements and it's not seismically sound. It's just plain old and inadequate

It is just a very expensive proposition, but it is one proposition that I feel we need. I'll be doing my fair share to see what we can do to ante up some money from the state and work with the county and the joint venture to get it completed, hopefully in the near future.

92391

It's really important to have town halls to go out into the community and hear people's concerns and create an avenue and a pathway for two-way communication. This COVID situation has made that very difficult. Frankly, with some of the technological solutions, like virtual town halls, you miss a good many of the people that we're talking about.

At this point, I am largely limited to people sending me an email or giving me a call and I'm not the only one. We have a bunch of senators and representatives in the county and I think all of them are open and eager to work with people and to meet needs. That is what public service is about; reaching out to everyone to the degree that we can, meeting their needs or helping them figure out how they can fulfill their needs.

I try to send out periodic newsletters and ask for feedback. People who send me emails get a response because that is the responsibility of senators and representatives. I think I have had a history of being accessible and I think that's one of the key features of a public servant. I am eager to always help people as best I can and respond to their needs.

92391

I am a psychologist by trade and have spent a lot of years doing public service because I think it is consistent with my practice of helping people. I guess that has been my mission. It has been neat to help people make a difference.

I returned to Clackamas County back in 1974 and it's been my home ever since. My kids went to school here. Interestingly, all four of our kids live within 15 miles of us and in Clackamas County, so we're kind of Clackamas County rooted. All but three of our 12 grandchildren live in the county too. We're Clackamas County people and we're devoted to this county.

92391

Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a difficult process. Making sure that we recover from the wildfires will also be important to me as a state senator.

Also, the low-income community who are struggling to make ends meet, and of course our small businesses, particularly those who hit hard by the pandemic. Helping and supporting those folks to recover from COVID- 19 is going to be a top priority of mine as we move forward as a district.

92486

Even before pandemic started, we were having a housing crisis, particularly a shortage of housing supply. Secondly, there has been a huge gap on home ownership. For example in the black community, only about 35% own homes compared to their white counterparts, who are at about 65% ownership. The Latinx and Native American communities are not far behind in terms of the racial gap in home ownership. We have to address some of those gaps as we move forward.

We also have to address tenants who are struggling to pay their rent because of the pandemic. We have Senate Bill 282 to try to address the needs of renters, but we also need to support the landlords.

Of course, homelessness is another crisis that we're facing. Addressing these issues will be my top priority as Chair of the Housing Committee.

92486

As a member of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Caucus, we have a set of bills and legislative agenda that we must put forward.

Supporting small businesses that are owned by underrepresented communities will be a key aspect of recovery, but also making sure overall that we have prosperity among all of us in our community.

92486

We cannot hold back the investment like the transportation package bill that we passed, HB 2017, which is called Keep Oregon Moving. HB 2017 is going to be implementing key elements of safety and investment strategy.

92486

We just have to make sure that the Clackamas County Commissioners, Clackamas County Caucus, as well as those who are providing services in our community are all working together. We need to communicate and put together our agenda collectively as we address some of those challenges.

92486

I am very grateful that I was invited by (Clackamas County Circuit Court) Judge Kathie F. Steele to tour the facility. I was able to see with my own eyes how debilitating this building is and how difficult it is for the folks working there, struggling to make sure they can provide services necessary for our community

I made a commitment to Judge Steele and the rest of the community members that I will support the effort to get the investment and funding necessary to make sure that we build a new courthouse.

92486

I think my lived experience reflects the majority of the district’s experience, where people are struggling and we have a lot of low-income and working class community members. We need diversity of ideas, we need diversity of experience, and we need the diversity of all our communities.

My hope is that I will bring those experiences that I share with the community to Salem and hopefully that will reflect some of the policy changes that I am going to be putting forward as a state senator.

92486

Equity benefits all of us. It doesn't only benefit those people who are struggling. When we take care of those who are struggling the most, we all benefit. It uplifts the entire community, so equity is very important to me.

I spent 22 years as a community organizer working to ensure that the state of Oregon is equitable for all Oregonians. That is the work that I have done before I came to the Senate, and I'm going to continue to be a champion for all Oregonians, regardless of their background.

92486

I would like Clackamas Community members to know that I am collaborative. I like to work with people collectively and bring issues to the table. When a disagreement happens, we can work through it together.

My hope is that Clackamas County residents will get to know me. I am here to be their voice and I'm here to work with them, side-by-side to address some of the challenges that we're facing at both the county and state levels.

92486