Republican candidate for governor Christine Drazan made a campaign swing through Bend Thursday.
One of her stops was Central Oregon Veterans Village for a roundtable discussion about homelessness, a major issue across the state and certainly in this year’s election.
During her time as a state legislator, Drazan helped insert language into state law that allowed veterans to help build Veterans Village.
The new facility in Bend houses homeless veterans in tiny homes while providing wrap around services to help them find jobs and permanent housing.
“I am committed to actually announcing a homeless state of emergency because I believe having the state engage in a way that clears away barriers and aligns resources is the only way we are going to solve this challenge,” Drazan said. “It has to be on a case management basis where we recognize and assess the needs on an individual basis rather than doing a once a year, point in time count.”
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Drazan declined our invitation to interview one-on-one a few weeks ago, but we asked her opponents about the issue of homelessness.
Here’s some of what they said:
“So the day after the election when I’m the governor, I would convene those people–law enforcement, addiction specialists, mental health specialists and social services and talk about budgets,” said Betsy Johnson, the independent candidate for Oregon governor. “What are realistic dates? Who is the accountable person and hold that person accountable. If they don’t deliver get a new person.”
Tina Kotek, the Democratic candidate for governor said she would send, “more outreach teams working tent by tent to talk to individuals, connect them to services, get them into shelter. Get them into housing. That’s why I supported converting motels in transitional shelter. I know there’s another one going on here in Central Oregon. It has worked.”
A Thursday’s roundtable, Drazan listened to concerns of a local who lives near the homeless camps along China Hat Road and heard from people who were key to getting Veterans Village up and operating.
Non-partisan national elections rating agencies Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have both rated the governor’s race a toss-up. Cook’s Senate and Governor’s editor Jessica Taylor says the homelessness crisis may be the issue that decides it.