By Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly
Openly gay candidate Brian Wilson kicked off his campaign for a seat on Multnomah County Board of Commissioners last night at Crush Bar with an overflowing crowd of supporters from the LGBTQ community.
“There is no better time than right now to have an openly gay elected official at Multnomah County as we’re rolling out Oregon United for Marriage,” Wilson shared. “Our families are going to be newly legitimized and will be looking to the county for a lot of programs, services and assistance that are difficult to get now because we don’t have the right to marry. I want to be there at the county to help bring an equity and diversity lens to all of those services to our community.”
Wilson, a native Oregonian, has worked in the private industry for years as a finance and marketing consultant for small businesses. Although this is Wilson’s first public office campaign, he’s had years of experience working on numerous City and County committees including the County Charter Review Commission, the Library Yes PAC, the Portland Housing Advisory Commission and actively working as a member of the Sellwood Bridge Community Task Force. Furthermore, his nonprofit experience includes such prominent organizations as the Red Dress Party , Mercy Corps NW, Cascade AIDS Project, and Our House of Portland.
Wilson, who faces State Representative Jules Bailey in the race for Multnomah County District 1 seat, is committed to continuing his work on issues such as engaging homelessness, improving libraries and bettering local social services. When asked what would top his agenda if elected Wilsons said “There are some huge changes coming by the way of the county right now, part of it being the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid. There’s going to be a big change in how the county bills for its service in the public health arena. What we do with any of the savings we get back is very important and I’d like to see us invest in some really critical programs that don’t get enough attention like mental health and addiction services, domestic violence prevention, crisis hotline. Libraries and the role they have in reducing the digital divide are very important to me. As we have increasing income inequality in our community there are many more children who don’t have access to technology such as smart phones and ipads. So much information is being digitized these days so children’s ability to have access to information and learning is hampered by that. The library will play an increasingly critical role.”
Multnomah County Bilingual Librarian Coordinator Diana Nunez, an attendee of the campaign kickoff, asked Wilson if he had any thoughts on the Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) and what staff and resources they should be putting towards the county.
“If you look at the population of the county mostly serves,” Wilson replied, “it is mostly communities of color and people who have issues with poverty, and the LGBT community is of course a part of that. The ODE is absolutely one of the critical components. The roll out of the equity lens is an incredibly important program. Let’s push a lot of energy behind that, let’s make sure there’s a lot of commissioners that support it. As an openly gay man I have a unique point of view to a minority population, I’m not in a community of color but I have experienced discrimination. I’m going to do whatever I can to empower the office and give it more direction.”
For information about Brian Wilson go to: http://www.wilsonforportland.com/.
Editor’s note: The author Shaley Howard was a chair of last night’s event. PQ Monthly as a publication does not endorse political candidates, and this post does not necessarily reflect the views of PQ Monthly nor constitute an endorsement of a given candidate. An earlier version of this post mistakenly quoted Wilson as saying that “As we have increasing income and equality in our community…” when Wilson actually said “As we have increasing income inequality in our community;” this version has been amended to correct the quote.