Washington County voters have a big choice on their ballots this spring.
Voters at-large will elect the next Washington County chair. Kathryn Harrington is running for a second four-year term, challenged by Beach Pace.
District 2, which covers much of northern Washington County, also features an incumbent, Pam Treece, running for a second four-year term against a challenger, Don Frazier.
The only uncontested race for a seat on the Board of Commissioners is District 4, in western Washington County. First-term incumbent Jerry Willey is unopposed after two prospective challengers withdrew before the candidate filing period closed.
We reached out to all of the candidates for county commissioner with a short questionnaire. Their responses are listed below, in full and unabridged, with only light editing for style and grammar.
What is the most significant issue facing Washington County at this time? How would you go about fixing it?
Kathryn Harrington, at-large: As I’ve talked with residents throughout our community, homelessness and affordable housing are the top issues being identified. With financing from the Metro supportive housing services and affordable housing measures, which I supported, we are making progress.
There are almost 300 new apartment homes now open or under construction and another 800 in the construction pipeline for completion in the next 18 months. In the first eight months of offering supportive wrap-around services with temporary shelter, many homeless folks have moved off the streets and into stable housing, with job training, mental health and addiction services plus financial counseling offering folks a pathway to permanent stability. And there are more folks to help bring inside.
We are making significant progress, and I believe we can end chronic homelessness and prevent additional people from entering homelessness.
Beach Pace, at-large: Our housing shortage. The most significant issue facing Washington County right now is a severe shortage of housing inventory, which includes affordable housing, apartments, condos, single family homes, assisted living and even executive housing. This housing shortage is driving the cost of housing up to untenable levels and preventing access to housing for those currently experiencing houselessness.
Additionally, we need more services for our houseless and housing-insecure neighbors. Everything from rent and utility assistance to homes to shelters with 360 wrap-around services for the houseless will make a difference. Many of these services already exist but need to be coordinated across the county. We desperately need leadership here.
I will tackle this issue by working in collaboration with nonprofit organizations, community partners, developers, cities, and state legislators to identify systems that work to use available funds as efficiently as possible. This will
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