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Hunger on the ballot

Hunger on the Ballot

When we vote, we can pass policies, create and fund programs, and ensure our communities’ voices are heard by elected leaders. Our votes have the power to keep food flowing to those of us who need it — and help end hunger at its roots. Together, we can build resilient communities that never know hunger!

Your vote holds power

Oregonians who face hunger know what it’s like to make tough decisions between food and other essential needs. That's why we asked the candidates for governor where they stand on issues related to food insecurity and its root causes. We asked them to share what decisions they’re ready to make, which policies and programs they would support, and what solutions they will bring to ensure all our communities have consistent access to nutritious, culturally-appropriate food.

Hear from each candidate

Read everything the candidates had to say on anti-hunger policies by clicking on their photo below.

Questions were sent to candidates who will appear on the May primary ballot — and all who replied are included here. We will also send questions to independent candidates who qualify for the November general election ballot and provide their full answers at that time.

Explore each question

Compare the candidates’ answers on questions below.

The Governor's responsibility to ensuring food access

Question

More than a million Oregonians, from every single county in the state, accessed food assistance through the Oregon Food Bank Network in 2021. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 702,000 Oregonians have participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP, sometimes referred to as “food stamps”). What are the responsibilities of the Governor to ensure that our communities have consistent access to nutritious, culturally-appropriate food?

Answers

Dr. Julian Bell: The Governor is responsible for the health of the people of the state, and nutrition is a major health issue. The Governor has a responsibility to address or eliminate hunger if it is within their powers.

Wilson Bright: If you look at my platform to be a governor at www.wilsonBright.org you will see I revolutionize our educational system by opening up the doors to our school buildings from 7:30 – 6:30. The schools will open up to children as young as 3 months old. Childcare becomes free. Think of the implications this has on food delivery to all children. We will offer three meals a day. The longer your child stays in school the more meals they are offered for free. It will change the game on the crisis of hunger. We won't expect children to be in class for that many hours, we will offer sports, art, extracurricular activities, and more. This decision would affect every person of color in a very positive way. It will allow parents to work and not worry about the well-being of their children. I expect it to raise more people out of poverty than any one thing that has ever happened in our state.

George Carrillo: The SNAP program has absolutely helped thousands of Oregonians receive assistance in accessing food that is nutritious and culturally appropriate. I believe it is the Governor’s responsibility to ensure that all Oregonians that qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) be informed of their eligibility status and assisted in applying for benefits, should they choose to pursue them. In order for this to work, it will be necessary to address and correct all state programs backlogs to have streamlined business processes with fair and equitable practices. Additionally, as the price of nutritious food fluctuates, the SNAP program benefits must reflect and support the true cost of healthy food.

The current lack of consistent access to food is a symptom of poverty and systemic inequities, such as lack of access to stable housing, livable wage, education, health, resources, and opportunities. It is the Governor’s responsibility to understand how these systemic inequities contribute to current social problems, such as food insecurity. The Governor should evaluate current federal revenues to see how they can be strengthened and equitably used, and advance community-driven policies that work towards preventing food insecurity.

Reed Christensen: The proven way for State government (or government at any level) to ensure the plentiful supply of necessities for its citizens is to foster a free and healthy economic environment. If providers and consumers are able to meet in a market place which is not distorted by - corporate monopoly, price fixing, welfare programs, government regulation and red tape, political cronyism, farm subsidies, price controls, or other such factors, then free enterprise in a free market will provide the optimal supply/demand solution to each and every player.

Michael Cross: I support enhancing the programs that are working and finding appropriate solutions where we have shortcomings. By working with agencies and other interested organizations we will arrive at solutions to current and future challenges.

Nick Hess: The governor is responsible for making sure people in need have access to food.

Tina Kotek: I began my career in public service working at Oregon Food Bank more than twenty years ago. It was my job to travel around the state and listen to Oregonians about why they needed to access emergency food. It wasn’t just about food. It was about low wages, the cost of housing, and the burden of medical debt. These stories have been my guiding light ever since.

We need to recognize the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable Oregonians. We need to address the immediate need for food, which means committing to increased access to programs like SNAP, WIC and the Child and Adult Care Food Program and supporting the statewide network of emergency food pantries. It also means a commitment to address barriers that Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities face in accessing these programs due to systemic racism.

As Governor, I’ll use the bully pulpit to raise awareness and address root causes of hunger and poverty. I’ll make sure Oregon utilizes the maximum flexibility allowed to increase participation in federally-funded nutrition programs. I’ll work to allocate more resources to communities in need and partner with community-based organizations to ensure implementation of these resources are achieving our goals.

Tim McCloud: When zoning development establishes access to non-local, low-quality foods which are often transported from distances outside of our state, this encourages an outdated, non-climate friendly method of food choice. As Governor, I will address food disparities throughout our communities that in part, play a role in limited access to local and healthy food options, and lower life expectancies. Every Oregonian deserves and requires access to nutritious and ethnically desirable quality foods. Supporting resources and policies that help Oregonians grow their own food is essential; subsidization that supports urban agriculture and cultivating partnerships between rural and urban communities, is what will allow greater food access and choice for Oregonians.

Keisha Lanell Merchant: My Good Stewardship platform campaign includes a strong action plan to start building food forests and water systems to provide universal food sources for Oregonians.

Tobias Read: By managing a number of state agencies that provide critical safety-net assistance to Oregonians in need, the Governor has an essential role in ensuring that communities have access to nutritious, culturally-appropriate food. This extends beyond SNAP, but includes leveraging other programs and agencies where Oregonians in need interact with the State. For example, Oregon has learned how to better deliver nutrition services to families with school age children by working with school districts and education providers to address increased need during the pandemic. FInally, Governors have enormous convening authority that can be used to establish prioritization and coordination between state and local governments. The next Governor should make it clear that no Oregonian should lack access to healthy food, and work to rally the State around addressing this goal, and executing against it.

Patrick Starnes: Most importantly, the governor needs to listen first. The people that are experiencing hunger in our communities are the experts and the best source of ideas for effective, equitable solutions to this crisis. Oregon has an amazing network of local, regional, and state cohorts and I think state government should get out of the way and support them in the ways they identify. To facilitate that, I would establish the Office of the Food Insecurity Advocate, the state’s point of contact for all hunger-related issues. The Advocate would work with the network of cohorts, centering support on local expertise.

John Sweeney: I think that all public assistance should come through the counties.. With coordinating the efforts between private and public agencies. That is the county with the cities in that county. And, private agencies (food bank/good will/salvation army/sunshine division & so on). And,with the state doing back up for more of theneeds.

Marc Thielman: The Governor must have a relationship with the people that is responsive to individual needs. Meeting individual needs is the engine of equity. The responsibility is both short-term and long-term depending on need. Combating hunger must include a set of economic rules that favor small and medium-sized businesses and industries that provide good family wage jobs, as well as support private organizations like the food bank, gleaners, and other organizations that have a passion for meeting the needs of the food insecure, poor and disenfranchised. No person or family should go hungry in Oregon and the Governor has a duty to address the root causes of hunger and facilitate food security options designed to meet a diverse set of needs. Economic opportunity is paramount, as well as providing access/good information to those in need to food security programs available in their geographic area. As Oregon’s next Governor, I will fight hard to assure that no person or family goes hungry in our State.

Michael Trimble: The governor must lead the way to Increase access to affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate foods for BIPOC-AI/AN and low-income communities and maximize investments and collaboration for food-related interventions. Building a resilient food system that provides access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food for all communities recognizes the connections we have to food, which go beyond nutrition and strengthen our connections to our families, cultures, and environments. Access to foods that matter to people helps recognize and empower our communities and can even strengthen the food.

Systemic racism and hunger

Question

Community members who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color face significantly higher rates of poverty and food insecurity than White Oregonians.

  1. What role, if any, do you believe systemic racism plays in causing hunger?

  2. What policies and programs would you support to reduce poverty and food insecurity in these communities?

Answers

Dr. Julian Bell:

1. No doubt there is a component of plain racism, but I think the problems might be better characterized as a mismatch between different BIPOC cultures and corporate American culture.
2. Greater focus on addressing social determinants of health, including nutritional literacy

Wilson Bright:

  1. No answer.

  2. See my school plan.

George Carrillo:

  1. Systemic racism limits the ability of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to access resources, opportunities, and privileges. I believe that systemic racism plays a contributing role in causing hunger as it’s embedded in policies, laws, and practices throughout state programs. For example, it is not uncommon for bilingual/multilingual applicants of the SNAP program to have a longer turnaround towards receiving benefits due to the limited amount of bilingual/multilingual staff in the Oregon Department of Human Services. We know this true because of the large backlog of SNAP applicants.

    Systemic racism marginalizes BIPOC communities by limiting access to education or career advancement for obtaining a livable wage to provide them with consistent food security. Many times we see BIPOC communities not being eligible for SNAP or other state benefits due to eligibility parameters that examine household members' income. A family may just be over the limit yet still be in poverty and lack access to food security.

  2. The BIPOC community experiences systemic racism at all levels and systems - education, housing, criminal justice, health, and government agencies. In order to reduce poverty and food insecurity, it is vital to examine the ways in which our systems limit their access to resources and opportunities.
    I believe it is important to understand the specific needs of each community as each community has different experiences with state programs and policies. I believe in providing the community a seat at the table This will be done by creating paid oversight committees to work with departments within our government to establish networks throughout the state, to coordinate efforts to engage communities on program implementation and solutions to the current systems. We can use this collaboration to understand where people fall in the cracks of current support systems, boost the current use of resources, and work in a collaborative approach to implement strategies.

Reed Christensen:

  1. In America, none.

  2. See above

Michael Cross:

  1. I don't care which race they are, if they are hungry, we need to find a solution.

  2. I have a comprehensive 4-year solution to the homeless crisis. I would encourage you to watch the video and share it, and I welcome constructive criticism, if any.

Nick Hess:

  1. I believe that the role systemic racism plays in hunger stems from lack of opportunity. Everyone–regardless of race–should have equal opportunities to live, to thrive, to define their own successes, and to have every opportunity to reach their idea of success.

  2. I support programs like SNAP and other local nonprofits that help feed and shelter our community. There are a lot of great state-funded and community programs that provide support in many areas such as housing, rental assistance, and food insecurity. However, many people in need do not know they exist or know how to access these programs. I advocate for better transparency through technology and online dashboards on state-run websites.

Tina Kotek:

  1. Systemic racism is at the root of so many challenges in our country, including hunger and poverty. Racial justice must be front and center in our response to these issues because that’s how we make sure that all communities have an opportunity to thrive.

  2. It is critical that we keep a laser focus on equitable access to affordable and stable housing, fair wages and working conditions, and culturally competent health care (including mental health and addiction services, as well as strong support services for children and families).

    As House Speaker, I worked to improve economic security for all Oregonians, such as raising the minimum wage, ensuring paid sick leave and paid family leave to support working families, and protecting renters by cracking down on rent gouging and preventing evictions during the COVID-19 crisis.

    As Governor, I will continue my focus on economic security, particularly in the area of affordable housing and homelessness. I will also support the work of the Racial Justice Council to improve economic opportunity for BIPOC Oregonians and address systemic inequities related to small business development, workforce training, and home ownership.

Tim McCloud:

  1. Historically, neighborhood zoning has impacted the way lower income communities- including People of Color- have access to food and critical services. Regarding areas with higher rates of poverty, the impact of neighborhood zoning development plays a significant role in helping to cause hunger; with consideration and planning for the needs and cultures of others as an afterthought. For instance, grocery stores and other healthy food-related businesses are less likely to be developed in areas of lower income. This often also means restrictions on urban backyard food-growing opportunities through local laws that make growing locally an even greater challenge.

  2. As Governor, I will support policies that encourage new partnerships with organizations and agencies that provide community wrap around services, such as trained volunteers for programs that can coordinate delivery of culturally appropriate foods, offer childcare, provide jobs training, and support mental health. In conjunction with providing tangible food items, I will also support programs that provide long-term results, reduce food waste, and promote food insecurity prevention strategies.

Keisha Lanell Merchant:

  1. I have a strong action plan for reparations to alleviate poverty and food insecurities for vulnerable populations. The Good Stewardship platform campaign includes the Quality of life for all Oregonians.

  2. My Good Stewardship platform campaign includes creation of policies that will decrease poverty and food insecurity in the budget and grant system to build new Urban Ranger stations to establish excellent services and products for all vulnerable populations to experience excellent and increase Quality of life through a universal system for green zone lifestyle choices. These cutting edge campuses and rest areas will be spa like paradise hanging gardens of food forests, water systems, and smart cities-housing, advanced technologies to serve vulnerable populations as an equilibrium system of inclusivity.

Tobias Read: Decades of systemic racism and government neglect have placed many Black, Indigenous and People of Color at increased risk of poverty and food security. We must broadly address the underlying economic disparity that exists in these communities in order to address this gap. This means closing education gaps, providing access to job training and apprenticeships, increasing access to post-secondary education. This means increasing wealth creation opportunities by expanding the EITC, IDAs, and college and retirement savings account participation. And it requires that we work with both the public and private sectors to support BIPOC and women owned small businesses. On a specific level related to food insecurity, this means supporting community based organizations who are doing the work on the ground to address immediate needs, and getting creative to address the food deserts that impact many communities of color, particularly those living in rural areas of the state. Finally, the Governor should leverage the support of our federal delegation to ensure that Oregonians are benefiting from federal expenditures, and that the state has the flexibility it needs to get support into these historically marginalized communities.

Patrick Starnes:

  1. Systemic racism affects all aspects of life for BIPOC, and the oppression and lack of opportunities they face are interwoven. Studies show that structural racism is a key contributor to inequity in health outcomes. BIPOC communities are more likely to be “food deserts” with little healthy, economical options within easy access. Systemic inequities in employment, earnings, credit, housing, health care, and criminal justice are mutually reinforcing and can all lead to food insecurity.

  2. Food insecurity is a public health issue. My plan for universal healthcare – OHP4all – would address hunger as a measure of health outcomes and work with the Office of the Food Insecurity Advocate and stakeholders in a shared effort to eliminate hunger. Because we must remain flexible and sensitive to the needs of those experiencing hunger, I would be open to exploring any proposal brought to me by these communities. Some other policies I would support include:

  • Instituting a better SNAP outreach plan to underserved communities
  • Restoring the supplement to SNAP benefits in place during the pandemic
  • Providing support for EBT access and matching SNAP benefits at all farmers’ markets
  • Bolstering school meal programs including free, nutritious breakfast, lunch, and summer food service
  • Making the ability to use SNAP benefits on hot food permanent, to better serve the houseless and those without access to meal preparation equipment
  • Exploring the creation of a fund to develop grocery stores in low-income and underserved areas

John Sweeney:

  1. Many of them feel down and need encouragement to feel that they are important. Because they are important and part of our greater society.

  2. More backing up of [Question] #1 above. It will work out better in the long run.

Marc Thielman:

  1. The debate about the role or existence of systemic racism is a profound distraction from addressing the root causes of the hungry. The root causes of hunger do not discriminate as the data is very clear that the demographic make up of those in need includes all races, creeds, identities, genders, and cultures. Our duty is to acknowledge the needs and address the root causes by telling the truth about food insecurity, and implementing good policies designed to lift everyone out of poverty. This end requires a two-way relationship with those in need, as well as effective partnerships with organizations and charities designed to secure provision and empower those they serve to grow their economic status and overcome poverty.

  2. As mentioned, I will implement economic policies that tip the scales in favor of small and medium-sized businesses, investment, and family wage job creation. Specifically, initiatives designed to invest in communities that have been marginalized and/or disenfranchised. We have whole communities, both urban and rural that will thrive economically if the burden of government regulations, taxation, and policies of marginalization can be reversed or addressed. Achieving this will require a different kind of leadership than what we currently have. Our struggling communities need action and empowerment, not empty words and false promises. As Governor, I will generate real results as defined by an appreciable reduction in hunger and food insecurity through effective partnerships. In addition, I will increase awareness and access to resources, grants, and economic opportunities and supports via public service announcements and direct community outreach. Giving the needy the tools they need to rise out of poverty and/or food insecurity is truly work worth doing.

Michael Trimble:

  1. When you have concentrated poverty or racial segregation, resources are limited at the community level. Food access is one of those things that’s limited. When you look at race, it’s not only low-income people who live in communities that don’t have resources – it’s middle-income people who live in communities that don’t have resources.

    People forget that it affects people who even have higher wages, who are considered working class, like a bus driver. You might think, why would a bus driver end up food insecure? Because of a history of discrimination. They may have a stable wage but haven’t had the opportunities and infrastructure to accumulate wealth. They are more vulnerable than a bus driver who’s coming from a family with a history of wealth.

  2. As governor, I will support the Oregon Food Bank Network which brings together 21 regional food banks and more than 1,400 food assistance sites to provide free food to anyone and everyone. Obviously we must establish more food banks and food assistance sites. In addition, I will double the EBT spending power of those who elect to purchase fruits and vegetables over unhealthy food. To help reduce poverty, I will raise minimum wage to $15 an hour in my first 100 days, and I will lower rents to 30% of low income renters’ income. I will also expand Oregon health plan to all Oregonians capping their monthly premiums as well as their healthcare costs/expenditures. All of these measures will help housing/food insecure Oregonians keep more of their hard earned money.

Essential food workers and food insecurity

Question

From the fields to the grocery store, our food industry is anchored by essential workers who are immigrants. Yet the workers who keep food on our tables are among the lowest paid in Oregon. As governor, what would you do to ensure that the people who grow, process and serve our food do not experience food insecurity themselves?

Answers

Dr. Julian Bell: Greater focus on affordable health care and housing I think will relieve pressure on household budgets and make it easier to afford food.

Wilson Bright: Once again the problem becomes solved as long as they send their children to school.

George Carrillo: Our immigrant population does not make a livable wage. I believe we must provide all workers with at least a $16 minimum wage, I will protect their entitlement to overtime pay, ensure there are protections for collective bargaining, workers’ rights, workplace safety, and fair scheduling no matter one’s documented status. I support providing essential worker pay for all low wage workers. Providing our workforce with the aforementioned items is an initial step in the right direction.

Reed Christensen: See above.

Michael Cross: I would continue successful programs while working to arrive at innovative solutions to current or future foreseeable issues.

Nick Hess: As governor, it is making sure there is a thriving economy in our community that not only supports these workers but allows every Oregonian to thrive. We need more trade schools and more ways for people to progress themselves into better careers. That means attracting better jobs in Oregon and job training so people can access those better jobs. We need new infrastructure and affordable housing so that we can expand our industries in Oregon.

Tina Kotek: Every Oregonian deserves a safe working environment with fair wages and good benefits. That’s why, as House Speaker, I made sure we got legislation over the finish line to raise the minimum wage and provide paid sick leave for workers - because that’s how we move the needle on economic security for our lowest paid essential workers.

During the early months of the pandemic, I supported state funding for the Oregon Worker Relief Fund so essential workers had access to financial assistance when they lost their jobs. I also supported the legislature’s recent work to set a path to overtime pay for farm workers.

As Governor, I will continue to stand with essential workers to ensure they have the resources and support they need to have food security. That means advocating for fair wages, investing in workforce development so all workers have the opportunity to move up the ladder, and investing in community-led and community-based programs so Oregonians can access help in familiar and comfortable environments.

Tim McCloud: As Governor, I will strengthen and protect our local economy by supporting new farming opportunities and pathways. I will work with our local farm groups to find ways to cut product costs in ways that benefit Oregonians. I will work with local communities to open more farmers markets throughout our state and ensure that access to food is increasing at the local levels. I will work with our agricultural industry on environmental policies that allow for traditional methods of field management, according to seasonal practices. And as governor, I will ensure that our SNAP program continues to act as a safety net that allows growers to feed their families.

Keisha Lanell Merchant: These campuses will include all populations that want residencies in these campuses. It is opening doors to all populations but not excluding vulnerable populations who will get priorities. The Good Stewardship platform campaign includes a trade off system that allows a continuum and double shift system to serve around the clock to ensure excellent services and products are given to vulnerable Oregonians populations which includes all workers (professionals whether paid or volunteers).

Tobias Read: We can best support those who grow, process and serve our food by ensuring they receive wages sufficient to support a family. This also means ensuring that these workers are protected against wage theft and other forms of on the job mistreatment. We should also make sure that essential workers can access unemployment, workers compensation, and other supports when they are unable to work. Finally, many of these workers are also unable to access affordable, quality housing options. We have a broader need to address our housing crisis that impacts many working Oregonians, while we also must find ways to support very specific gaps in farmworker housing shortages.

Patrick Starnes: I applaud the legislature’s recent passage of overtime pay for farmworkers. Equitable pay is a necessary step toward food security, as is the opportunity for the undocumented to become citizens with the same rights as other workers.

Emergency food programs and service providers need to meet immigrants in their communities. Besides educating and enrolling farmworkers into federal assistance programs, we should offer direct help by providing easy access to fresh, healthy, and culturally appropriate foods.

I believe we should expand eligibility requirements for SNAP and other public assistance programs. One example is the California Food Assistance Program which provides state-funded food stamps to non-citizens who do not qualify for SNAP.

John Sweeney: Would enforce the laws regarding pay and OT. It needs to be equal for all. I believe in equal work/equal responsibility and equal pay.

Marc Thielman: Illegal immigration is an attack on the very humanity of the people to risk much to live and work in the United States in violation of the law. This reality is why immigration must be legal for the full protection of labor laws to be applied to the hard-working people who are essential to food provision. Commonsense requires an immigration system that is legal and connects migrant workers to the full benefits and protections that the United States offers in the workplace. If we are to be a nation of laws, then undocumented workers should be discouraged and connection of migrant workers to legal status must be paramount. Legal workers are required to the same benefits as most citizens and thus are much less likely to experience food insecurity. Essential workers of legal status fair much better than their undocumented counterparts, and thus have the capacity to lobby for better wages and working conditions, as they have done successfully in the past. Farmers and immigrant workers need each other, and a rising tide raises all ships.

Michael Trimble: In addition to raising minimum wage to $15 an hour and expanding OHP to all residents, I will make all immigrants, regardless if their immigration status, state residents giving them full rights and benefits including ballot access. Under my governorship, Oregon will be the most welcoming sanctuary state in the nation.

Food insecurity in rural, urban and suburban communities

Question

From Ontario, to Portland, to Tillamook, rates of poverty and food insecurity are relatively similar. As governor, how would you design solutions to poverty and hunger across rural, urban and suburban communities?

Answers

Dr. Julian Bell: I'm not familiar enough with designing solutions in any single area to know how to list the differences between designs for multiple areas.

Wilson Bright: No answer.

George Carrillo: While all across the state there are similar rates of poverty and food insecurity, I believe it is important to understand the specific needs of each community. I do not hold the answer, I believe community members are the experts on the problems they face. I will create paid oversight committees to work with departments within our government. The oversight committees will report to the governor. These oversight committees will establish networks throughout the state to coordinate efforts to engage communities on program implementation and solutions to the current systems. Agencies will implement strategies that the oversight committee brings forward and will work in a collaborative approach to discuss desired outcomes. Oversight committees will be tasked to engage community members from populations directly impacted by decisions.

Reed Christensen: See above.

Michael Cross: I would, through my extensive business and entrepreneur experience in solving challenging dilemmas, use this background experience to provide solutions that may have been used in other states successfully while arriving at innovative solutions that may be new to Oregon.

Nick Hess: As governor, I believe in funding local groups that are working with those communities. That means the state must ensure proper funding to the county and city leadership for proper leadership. Counties and cities can then coordinate the flow of funds to established nonprofits that are showing results in helping alleviate poverty and food insecurity.

Tina Kotek: From my days working at Oregon Food Bank to serving in the legislature, I have always been focused on making sure every Oregonian has a path to prosperity.

Around the state, poverty might look different but it exists in every community. It’s this reality that motivated me to pass some really big legislation for Oregonians that addresses some of the root causes of poverty: increasing the minimum wage, expanding paid sick leave to more workers, protecting Oregonians from rent gouging, and expanding access to affordable health care for all Oregonians.

As Governor, I will continue to do the hard work to champion solutions that address our short-term and long-term goals to reduce poverty. I will make sure that state government is working to get resources and support out the door to every Oregonian who needs it, because bureaucracy and red tape is no excuse when Oregonians are struggling. And I will work alongside our diverse, community-based organizations to ensure that all communities, especially our BIPOC and low-income communities, are at the table to help design and implement the programs and resources that we create.

Tim McCloud: Recognizing the connections between Oregon’s rural, urban, and suburban communities is essential in building sustainable systems that address poverty and hunger. As Governor, I will ensure that Oregonian’s access to hunting and fishing is not affected by policies that seek to eliminate the ability for individuals to live off our lands in a sustainable way. I will advocate for programs that educate the public on issues like urban gardening and increase direct-to-market access between farmers and communities. And as Governor, I will support programs that continue to promote food delivery to seniors and individuals with disabilities, that increase community gardening programs at locations including schools, hospitals, and health centers, and provide consistent access to culturally appropriate foods for Oregon’s diversity of cultures.

Keisha Lanell Merchant: The goal is to create a minimum 300 Park and Urban Ranger campuses that provide the Good Stewardship platform campaign model to ensure all populations receive access to resources as a basic human right. This cost can be taken out of all the government grant programs that are allocated for development of land management, forestry, wildlife, recreation, business, education, community partnerships. We can draw from grant funding from partnerships with federal, corporations, and philanthropy.

Tobias Read: A persons ability to reach their full potential should not be tied to one’s zip code. For too long, we have left many talented, hardworking Oregonians on the sidelines. This has been particularly acute in rural communities and among communities of color in urban areas. Job creation targeted specifically at closing these gaps is critical, but won’t occur unless we target programs specifically at these communities. Furthermore, we need to develop programs that address the outcomes of poverty and close hunger needs by working with those marginalized communities to develop programs that reflect the specific and unique needs of those communities. The state must avoid one size fits all approaches, and provide services that recognize that things don’t look the same in Burns, as Beaverton, or as Brookings.

Patrick Starnes: The pandemic showed us that stimulus programs targeted to the most needy are an extremely effective method of raising the living standard of millions. Last year’s expanded child tax credit cut the child poverty rate by roughly 30%, lifting nearly 4 million kids out of poverty. I support targeted stimulus to address crises as they occur, like a gas rebate paid to the lowest-income households, those that are choosing between getting to work and eating. We have been bombarded by unforeseen disasters like a pandemic, extreme weather events, and historic political divisions. We need the flexibility to respond to them quickly and effectively.

But again, I would defer to the people in these diverse communities when it comes to designing solutions for their unique needs. There will never be an effective one-size-fits-all solution in a state as disparate as Oregon. I think the state can be most effective by providing the access, structural support, and financial backing necessary to make individual programs successful and sustainable.

John Sweeney: I think [Question] #1 applies to this.

Marc Thielman: As Governor, I will make the design of solutions to poverty rates and food insecurity among the highest priority. As mentioned, the best protection against poverty and food insecurity is a family wage job. Poverty is no respecter of geography and affects urban, rural and suburban people alike. An innovative and robust economic plan that includes the revitalization, maximization and development of our deep-water seaports is necessary. Economic opportunity, job creation, and a renaissance of small and medium-sized business creation will greatly reduce the frequency of food insecurity among Oregon’s hard-working citizens.

Michael Trimble: Boosting EBT spending power is a first start. Ensuring there are healthy options in every county is imperative, as too many rural, urban, and yes even suburban communities are food deserts without access to vegetables, fruit, milk, eggs, etc. it is beyond critical to establish more food banks and food assistance sites. Regarding poverty, I have addressed this in previous answers.

Barriers to BIPOC farming

Question

Of the state’s 67,595 farm producers, only 64 were Black in 2017. Black, Indigenous and People of Color have long experienced barriers in access to land, infrastructure and markets to support farming — negatively impacting both food production and economic development in communities.

  1. Does the governor have any responsibilities to remove barriers to farming for Oregonians who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color?

  2. If yes, what policies and programs would you support?

Answers

Dr. Julian Bell: This seems to be a problem of basic economics. Good land is the least available resource of land, labor and capital. Many wars are fought over the issue of access to farmland or any land at all, which is not to say that it isn't a valid concern, more that it is not an easy problem to solve.

  1. No answer.

  2. If there are barriers that can be removed, then I would be happy to help with this project.

Wilson Bright:

  1. No

  2. No answer.

George Carrillo:

  1. Yes, there are disproportionate barriers to BIPOC Oregonians. Those barriers include historical policies and practices, such as Oregon's Black exclusion laws and the relocation of Native American tribes, that dispossessed people of their land.

  2. BIPOC farmers were denied USDA loans at higher rates than other groups in 2020. I will advocate for addressing the loan bias and bias that federal grants should not be structured on size or production. I believe in improving access to loans for micro-farming, or farms less than 150 acres. I believe in supporting community-supported agriculture programs and regenerative agriculture programs. I also support ongoing collaboration between the Oregon Department of Agriculture and our state’s nine federally-recognized Tribes to increase access and use of programs and services by Indigenous producers and Tribes. I believe we should review our state’s policies that dispossessed the Indigenous People of Oregon of their land to seek ways to return the stolen land.

Reed Christensen:

  1. Please have the person or persons who have been barred from making a choice in employment give me a call. (Together we will find out why the State Dept of Labor is not doing its job.)

  2. See above.

Michael Cross:

  1. It saddens me because of Oregon's racism history and this is something that has gone on for a while now. An example of this is the non-unanimous jury verdict, that as of recently has been utilized when stopped by a federal court. Oregon and Louisiana have been the only 2 states that practiced this, that have been Jim Crow’s throwback. So, of course, as governor, I will zealously work to remove any racism in Oregon.

  2. I would support the immediate termination of any employee engaged in racist behavior. I would also work to remove elected officials that are found doing the same.

Nick Hess:

  1. No. This is an issue for local counties. They determine what happens to the land and the cost of land. But the reality is that this affects EVERYONE that doesn’t have money or access to money. There are foreign investors and billionaires buying up our land. And even family farms can no longer stay in the family with Oregon’s high estate tax.

  2. N/A

Tina Kotek:

  1. Yes, because Oregon benefits when every Oregon industry or economic sector - both the employers and the employees - reflects the diversity of our state.

  2. As Governor, I would start with analyzing how current state programs support access and/or impose barriers to BIPOC participation in farming and food production/processing. With this information in hand, I would work with ODA, OSU Extension, and others to improve opportunities for participation, including access to financing for land acquisition and business start up. I would look to partnerships with organizations like Mudbone Farm and the Black Food Sovereignty Coalition to make sure that everyone has what they need to succeed and grow the next generation of farmers.

Tim McCloud:

  1. As Governor I will support farmers that seek to grow foods that are appropriate to their dietary needs and will move against barriers that prevent Oregonians from accessing healthy, low-cost foods, or that create food security. Farming is one of our state’s most important industries and agriculture is a driver of our community’s health and economy.

  2. As Governor, I will expand access to community supported agriculture for millions of Oregonians through expansion of community supported agriculture, farmers markets, and direct farm sales. I will also expand access to student gardening education and increased access to nutritious foods in vulnerable communities.

Keisha Lanell Merchant: The Good Stewardship platform campaign includes a lot for every Oregonian tax exemption to farm, housing, or multifamily living. Everyone can own a lot size to develop according to civility and excellence for living, business, and shared interest of return investment as a holistic approach to Interdependent relationships with our environment and each other.

  1. Yes

  2. I would create new policies and new programs. All programs can partner, collaborate and become Interdependent relationships collective with the Good Stewardship platform campaign.

Tobias Read:

  1. Yes, the Governor, as chief executive of the state, has a responsibility to remove these barriers. Oregon has a real opportunity in this regard.

  2. Oregon has invested tremendously in our food, beverage and travel and hospitality sectors. Oregonians love their locally produced food and beverages. We should be doing more to create pathways for BIPOC families to draw upon their own talent, expertise, and cultures to grow food that can contribute to our state’s effort to market Oregon grown food. We should be looking to build on our investments in OSU agricultural extension programs to support this effort, provide access to affordable small business lending programs, and support technical assistance programs aimed at BIPOC farmers and producers. And working with TravelOregon and local tourism efforts to market an inclusive Oregon that includes BIPOC farmers and food producers.

Patrick Starnes:

  1. The governor has responsibility for removing ALL barriers for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Strengthening support for BIPOC within the farming sector can lead to long-term prosperity for these communities while helping to create locally sustainable food sources.

  2. I support the recommendations in the reference document you cited: Leveling the Fields: Creating Farming Opportunities for Black, Indigenous and Other People of Color. Among them:

  • Grants, subsidies, and incentives to make it easier for BIPOC to rent, finance, and own land.
  • Exploring alternative land rental and ownership options such as ground leases, lease-to-buy options, co-operatives, and agricultural conservation easement programs
  • Expanding financial support through outreach and technical support to increase participation in USDA programs
  • Improving access to funding including no collateral, low-interest, and microloans

John Sweeney:

  1. I would support equal treatment in loans and land sales.

  2. I would have an open line into the Civil Rights Office.

Marc Thielman:

  1. The Governor must represent all Oregon citizens, and the rules of our government should be set in favor of access and opportunity for the common citizen and small/medium business. This simple step will create open doors for people of all races, creeds, and colors to pursue their dreams of land and home ownership.

  2. I will declare a small and medium sized business emergency and implement new and strategic regulatory rules that favor small and medium sized businesses to include incentives for minority owned businesses. We are all in this together and facilitating supports for BIPOC ownership of business serves to strengthen our economy and end food insecurity for more vulnerable members of our great state.

Michael Trimble:

  1. YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

  2. I will guarantee socially disadvantaged farmers have the same access to credit as white farmers along with debt relief/forgiveness. Reparations are definitely in order here due to the decades of discrimination and bias experience by black, indigenous, and people of color. Had they had the same access as white farmers, they would be in a much better position today with so much more wealth to pass down to their children.

Affordable housing

Question

Oregon faces a crisis of affordable housing. People who request food assistance consistently cite the cost of housing as a primary reason for seeking help — and renters are more than six times more likely to experience hunger than homeowners. As governor, what will you do to move us toward an Oregon in which everyone has safe, affordable and healthy housing?

Answers

Dr. Julian Bell: I think the state of Oregon will have to invest in affordable housing. The housing marketplace has no rationale for building affordable housing when it can build unaffordable housing for a much greater return on investment. The people who need affordable housing (voters) are for the most part disenfranchised as individuals but have the potential to organize and advocate for their goals - in the form of elected leaders, for example the Governor of the state, who would at least potentially, if elected by these affordable housing advocates, invest public (voter) money in this very important public service.

Wilson Bright: Please see my plan for affordable housing. I believe the single best thing we can do is to bring people into homeownership. If I become governor the state moves into the development business and builds thousands of affordable houses. (mostly of the smaller square foot size) We don’t want to be landlords, we want to be mortgage holders. We sell these affordable houses back to the general public, putting downward pressure on housing prices. We reserve at least 1/3 of these condos as rent to own. If a person works hard and stays off hard drugs, we will create opportunities for homeownership.

George Carrillo: I will invest in affordable housing for low-income renters by limiting landlords to charge no more than 30% of the total household income for low-income individuals. I believe we should reinvest our Section 8 Housing funds and other program funds to allow a tax break for landlords who continue to provide low-income housing. I will reinforce the current state “just cause” requirement for convictions and ensure the right to court-appointed counsel in housing disputes.

I will work towards ending gentrification and exclusionary zoning because this keeps affordable housing out of neighborhoods through land use and building code requirements and raises the price of rent, homes, and property values.

For renters who experience houselessness, I will create new facilities throughout the state that provides on-site services to address the needs of our houseless community and assist with the shift in becoming self-sufficient. This includes expanding the concept of shelters by addressing the social determinants of health of an individual or family who is willing to engage.

The state should provide funding to county and city governments to collaborate with state government agencies to streamline processes and create measurable goals that will produce maximum outcomes for the community.

Reed Christensen: See above.

Michael Cross: I would refer back to my homeless crisis solution to solve this issue as well. One of the byproducts of that program is to produce more affordable housing. Please watch the video and share the feedback.

Nick Hess: Homeownership is the quickest way to build personal wealth. To build a healthy and thriving community we need more affordable housing. Oregon largely has a supply and demand problem. We do not have enough inventory and any plans to add more housing are tied up in building ordinances and restrictions.Taxes such as the CAT tax also tack on additional costs to new housing projects which then gets passed on to renters and buyers. We need a temporary pause on unnecessary regulations so that we can increase our inventory and decrease housing and rental prices.

Tina Kotek: We have an unacceptable humanitarian emergency on our sidewalks and in our neighborhoods. We need to bring more urgency to helping people experiencing homelessess get into shelters and transitional housing so they can get stable and into permanent housing. This includes improving access to mental health and addiction services.

As Governor, I’ll lead a comprehensive approach to tackling our housing and homelessness crisis, focusing on five priorities:

  1. End unsheltered homelessness for veterans, families with children, unaccompanied young adults, and people 65 years and older by 2025, and continue strengthening pathways to permanent housing for all Oregonians experiencing homelessness.
  2. Build enough housing to meet the need for people currently experiencing homelessness, address current shortage of housing, and keep pace with future affordable housing demand by 2033.
  3. Advance racial equity by reducing the racial homeownership gap by 20% by 2027.
  4. Keep people housed who are currently on the brink of homelessness.
  5. Encourage intergovernmental and private sector partnerships to have more effective and efficient responses to solving this crisis.

If we’re going to solve Oregon’s housing crisis, we need near-term and long-term strategies. As Governor, I’ll move Oregon forward on meeting both the immediate challenges and tackling the root causes of this crisis.

Tim McCloud: Before and during economic and housing crisis, Oregonians need access to various types of assistance that may include food, medical care, and transitional housing. Oregon is a decade behind on the issues of housing and homelessness, and they are still many of the same issues that pushed my own family out of a home many years ago; even though I was running a small business, attending school online, and raising a young family. Today, it is still the same reality for many of the people on our streets. However, other causes of homelessness today are often complex and at times, will need to be addressed even before housing. As Governor I will work with various organizations to develop more quality and affordable housing throughout Oregon. While housing development is underway, I will also support better community-supported programs and planning to care for young homeless children and their families.

Keisha Lanell Merchant: The state of Oregon is a land ownership state. Therefore it is the Governor's responsibility to influence change and diversity social responsibility through innovation and support. Therefore the Good Stewardship platform campaign includes starting with a taskforce to assign abandoned land or misused land to share as tax exemption land ownership to Oregonians to be responsible for the care of that land and give or pass down generation to generation with the support of the Park and Urban Rangers.

The Good Stewardship platform campaign includes a holistic approach to sustainability and Quality of life through creating green zone campuses and humanitarian aid communities. It will include a mathematical system that crunches numbers for resource management systems and distributions of quality care services and products that will be high grade, excellent conditions using Maslow's theory of actualization, transformative leadership and systematic processes for quality assurance.

This is called the Good Stewardship platform campaign. And the Good Samaritan Act 1 and 2.

Tobias Read: Oregon has a homelessness crisis. Nearly 16,000 people are experiencing homelessness every day in Oregon. And despite state and local governments spending hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years, the crisis has only gotten worse. What we’re doing isn’t working. As Governor, I will respond with the urgency and much needed accountability that has been missing from this crisis.

While getting people safely off the streets is an immediate priority, we must address the long-term causes of homelessness. Homelessness disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous and other people of color, women fleeing domestic violence, veterans, LGBTQIA2S+ youth, and those with chronic health conditions. One of the key drivers is Oregon’s severe shortage of affordable housing, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-term economic consequences. We know what it takes to get in front of this crisis: preventing evictions for those who are at risk of homelessness, housing those who are currently homeless, and delivering the health services - especially mental and addiction services - to those who need it.

Patrick Starnes: I would create the Oregon Shelter Fund outside of the General Fund. Revenue will be generated by enacting a vacancy fee on abandoned homes and commercial buildings. This money could be matched with local and federal dollars to provide affordable housing and vital services for the homeless and those in danger of becoming so. As the “Timber Capitol of the World,” Oregon can provide shelter for the unhoused and affordable housing for the working families in tourist dominated areas of Oregon.

John Sweeney: I will work to get more funding for housing.

Marc Thielman: The lack of affordable housing rests solely at the feet of State Government Policy, specifically Urban Growth Boundary regulations that are one-sized fits all. Local Governments must be given more flexibility to prioritize strategic developments for housing that make sense for those communities. Rural counties have different needs that Urban counties and the local county/municipal governments must be set free to use commonsense and approve expansion of housing and industrial developments serve to create economic and housing security. Our current system is far too restrictive and facilitates too much governmental and regulatory inefficiency. It should not take an average of seven years to approve a 500 unit apartment complex.

Michael Trimble: I will lower rents of middle-to-low-income by at least $100 at multi-unit apartment properties in my first 100 days while I work with the legislature to ultimately cap rents of middle-to-low-income to 30% of their income in my first term. I will ban all rent related nonrefundable fees including application and pet fees, as well as criminalize vacancies longer than 45 days. If a vacancy can't be filled after 45 days, the government will give that unit to a tenant on the waiting list. There is no reason for vacancies with so many people looking for housing. Where I live, there have been vacant units sitting unoccupied for months because the property management company refuses to rent at below market value. All that will end as your governor.

I will mandate Section 8 be accepted by all landlords/property managers and work to cut the obscenely egregious waiting lists/times to under 100 days. I will seize all vacant buildings/properties under eminent domain and give them to nonprofits/organizations/agencies ready to convert them into housing. I will overhaul zoning to discourage single unit only dwellings to expand multi unit/shared dwellings.

RENT/HOUSING IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE OR A LUXURY

Caregivers and food insecurity

Question

The work of caring for one another is disproportionately shouldered by women. While the labor of caring for children, the elderly and people with disabilities is often unpaid, professions of childcare and home healthcare are among the lowest paid in Oregon. Single mothers and caregivers are over three times more likely to experience hunger than the general population. As governor, what will you do to ensure that the people providing care in our communities do not experience food insecurity?

Answers

Dr. Julian Bell: My main strategies would be to decrease the cost of health care (through standardizing insurance via regulation, and standardizing the cost of health care delivery through free market mechanisms - leading to a quasi-single payer health care system which would be much less expensive than our current system), and decreasing the cost of housing, as described above.

Wilson Bright: Once again I provide affordable housing and food security with two basic actions. We are too prosperous of a nation and too smart of a people to let this problem continue. We are better than this.

George Carrillo: I believe child care and home health care workers are undervalued and underpaid. This care work is important for household and economic stability. I believe we should increase wages for all professions of childcare and home healthcare to livable standards. I will support bills such as House Bill 4005 that address the unfair disparity in payments to providers servicing low-income families, such as those who receive Employment Related Day Care subsidies. I will also support packages brought forward, like the 2022 Child Care Investment Act, that are designed to help increase the availability of care by assisting providers to stay open, expand, and help new providers launch their businesses.

Reed Christensen: See above.

Michael Cross: I will continue programs that are successful and work to provide solutions where we have shortcomings.

Nick Hess: These individuals are crucial to our communities. We need to ensure that there is transparency into what programs are available to help them. Whether that is helping them to find future opportunities through education in order to raise their wages or making sure the state is a good steward of their tax dollars and putting more money back into their wallets. Again, I believe in advocating for transparency through technology and making sure these programs are clear and accessible to anyone needing assistance.

Tina Kotek: Care workers are essential workers who deserve and need better compensation, job security, and professional development opportunities. Our children, family members, and most vulnerable neighbors need Oregon to do a better job of supporting care workers. As House Speaker, I always supported increased reimbursement rates that would be directed to increasing the wages and benefits of care workers. As Governor, I will continue to do this and will explore innovative ways to stabilize and enhance this critical workforce.

Tim McCloud: As Governor, I will encourage increasing access to lower cost locally grown foods, and programs that support local growers. I will work with communities to increase access to farmers markets throughout our state and ensure that access to healthy foods is available throughout Oregon.

Keisha Lanell Merchant: The Good Stewardship platform campaign includes voluntarism as a mathematical system and a Good Samaritan Act therefore currency. This creates a development of rural and urban development for the Good Samaritan and the Good Stewardship who may not always get the compensation or recognition deserved. This platform accounts and becomes socially responsible for all populations who are classified into the classification of under-represented, under-privileged in resources, access to technologies, products and quality services. These Humanitarian aid universities, campuses will stand in the gap of the disproportionately large gap of wealth. No charge tax exempt campuses.

Protect their universal basic human right to have human services, humanitarian aid and support through the Good Stewardship platform campaign includes the Good Samaritan Act 1 and 2.

Community collaboration, and community building and partnerships. Social Change agencies and organizations like the Food Bank can be a partner and in collaboration with the Good Stewardship platform campaign includes the initiatives Good Samaritan Act 1 and 2.

Tobias Read: I’m dedicated to measuring the success of our state based on the wellbeing of children and families. And we can do much, much better. I’m the only candidate for Governor who has released a comprehensive Child Care platform. I’m proposing steps aimed at lowering childcare and early learning costs, increasing compensation and training to recruit and retain high quality educators, creating more childcare slots, and treating childcare like the crucial economic support that it is. After all, not only do our kids and families benefit from high-quality, affordable childcare, but our economic recovery depends on it.

Families across Oregon are struggling to find and afford childcare. The costs of quality childcare are high relative to income: single parents earning Oregon’s median income are paying over 50% of their income for infant care and 40% for preschoolers. For many, childcare is hard to find: 72% of communities in Oregon are classified as “childcare deserts,” meaning there are not enough childcare slots for the number of kids who need them. The childcare workforce is under-compensated leading to high turnover and not enough professionals available to provide care. And disruptions to the childcare industry stemming from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have only made an already difficult situation worse with 94,000 Oregonians unable to go back to work due to a lack of stable, affordable childcare. With parents making up around 30% of our workforce, long term economic recovery is tied to our commitment to improving this sector. I’m committed to addressing these gaps, and I encourage you to visit my detailed plan.

Patrick Starnes: Aside from the measures already described to improve support for underserved communities, I would stress outreach targeted at caregivers with instructions for accessing geographically accessible resources. This outreach should be delivered via TV, social media, phone calls, text messages and literature mailed to homes or the workplace and posted in settings likely to be frequented by caregivers: schools, healthcare settings and long-term care centers.

John Sweeney: I will work with the legislature to get better programs for our disadvantaged people. Wherever they are.

Marc Thielman: Care givers should be compensated like any other skilled worker. Currently, caregiver wages have increased during the pandemic as the need has increased due to the economic shutdowns. Again, family wage jobs are paramount, and caregivers deserve good wages in relation to their skills. Entry wages must be increased as proficiency in caregiving is demonstrated. As a father of a disabled child, I have advocated for more compensation for our amazing caregiver, and it has been granted. This kind of advocacy is necessary if skilled caregivers are to be retained.

Michael Trimble:

  • Raise minimum wage to $15 an hour (giving caregivers hazard pay for working with at health risk patients)

  • Expand Oregon Health Plan to all especially our caregivers capping premiums/expenditures

  • Expand food bank/assistance programs footprint to cover all of Oregon ensuring access to healthy food

  • Cap rents to 30% of income

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