Posted April 23, 2020
The upcoming primary election contains no fewer than five candidates running for office who hale from Hillsdale. When we reached out to them recently with a few questions, four of them answered the call.
This is not intended as a campaign forum or endorsement process, just as a fun way to get know some of our neighbors a little better. Candidates' campaign websites are linked to their names below.
The candidates are listed initially in alphabetical order, then the order of responses rotates. Their responses have been edited and condensed from phone conversations.
Left to right: Ginny Burdick, running for re-election for the position of State Senator, 18th District; Cynthia Castro, a candidate for City Council, Commissioner Position 2; Rachelle Dixon, a candidate for City Council, Commissioner Position 2; Sharon Meieran, running for re-election Multnomah County Commissioner, District 1.
The candidate elected to City Council Commissioner Position 2 will fill the vacancy left by the death of Commissioner Nick Fish until the remainder of the term on December 31, 2022. That position currently oversees the Portland Parks and Recreation Department.
1. How did you end up in Hillsdale?
Burdick: My family moved here when I was in 7th grade. I went to Bridlemile Grade School. We did all of our grocery shopping at Lynch’s market, which by now has gone through several name changes and is now Basics. I went to Wilson High School. I spent a considerable amount of time out of state, but came back in 1988. So Hillsdale has been part of my life for most of my life.
Castro: My husband and two kids and I moved to Portland seven years ago for his job as a cancer researcher at OHSU. We both have backgrounds as researchers, so we did our research, looked all over town, and fell in love with Hillsdale.
Dixon: I grew up in the Concordia District in NE Portland. When I came back after living in DC for several years the prices in NE were ridiculous, so I moved to E. County. I didn’t feel connected there so started looking for another area with reasonable prices with good proximity to recreational opportunities, downtown, shopping. And I found Hillsdale, which is close to everything! Meieran: It was a twist of fate. We were renting in NE Portland and thinking we’d stay there, but that was when real estate prices peaked and we couldn’t afford anything. A friend invited us to come see his house that he was selling in Hillsdale. He told us how much he loved the neighborhood, and when we came over to check it out we fell in love with it, too.
2. What do you value most about Hillsdale?
Castro: Hillsdale is the neighborhood we envisioned as perfect for us: Walkability to schools, shops, restaurants, the Wilson pool, and the library. Easy access to public transportation (my husband takes the bus and I bike to work except in the winter when I take the bus). It’s important to us not to have to get in the car to go everywhere. I grew up in a small town so I appreciate the quiet here, but also love that it’s easy to get downtown.
Dixon: Hillsdale is close to so many things. Most important for me is how close I am to Stephens Creek Nature Park. I feel like I’m in the middle of the country there and I can get out and hug a tree once in a while.
Meieran: There are so many factors that all work together to make Hillsdale such a wonderful community: Welcoming people who look out for one another, the beautiful environment, schools, businesses. All of these things are so integrated it’s hard to choose just one or two.
Burdick: I always tell my friends that Hillsdale is great because you don’t have to get in the car. We have everything here and all the amenities you could ask for with so many local businesses and even our own farmer’s market. Wilson, Robert Gray, and Rieke are wonderful neighborhood schools that have added so much to our community. And it’s such a warm and welcoming community.
3. How might Hillsdale be improved?
Dixon: We need more sidewalks, better infrastructure and road safety. We need to improve our capacity for people to be able to get out of their cars and bike or walk. Hillsdale is very close to having that capacity, but we don’t have very many sidewalks.
Meieran: Hillsdale is not as diverse as many other neighborhoods in Portland. I’m not sure why that is, but last year’s Community Conversation led by students of color at Wilson High School was very helpful in getting a conversation started that I hope we will pursue.
Burdick: Growing up around here, the biggest problem was that the commercial center was broken up by Capitol Highway. Having an arterial like that has its advantages with multiple transit lines, but it can still be difficult to access businesses depending on which way you come from. The mid-block crossings have helped a lot with that.
Castro: It gets so congested on Capitol Highway and the town center parking can get crowded. And, this is not unique to Hillsdale, but the road surfaces can be pretty rough. I ride my bike to work on Cheltenham, and it feels like a rollercoaster! We could also use more sidewalks for kids to walk and bike safely.
4. What one or two aspects about the position you are running for has the greatest impact on this community?
Meieran: The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners is the health authority for the county, we provide homeless and mental health services that are always important, and even more so in the current COVID-19 crisis. We have neighbors in Hillsdale who are homeless, living in encampments off of Barbur Boulevard, and we can see people in our town center who are suffering. The problem will keep getting bigger. We may feel that these issues don’t impact our community, but they absolutely do.
Burdick: This community is really passionate about education. The work I’ve done on the Student Success Act will make a big difference. And while fortunately Hillsdale has not been at the epicenter of gun violence, my work on gun safety will have an impact throughout the District and here in Hillsdale.
Castro: We’ve seen during this current crisis how important parks and recreational facilities are. I would like to see our Parks and Recreation department on a more sustainable financial footing so we don’t see the continuing closure and layoff cycles. This is an area we need to invest in if we want future generations to benefit. We’re also seeing how important small businesses are at this time, and how vulnerable they are. It will be important to support small businesses as they recover from the economic impact of the closures we’re having now.
Dixon: Equity in access to parks and facilities, and decisions regarding our transportation and safety infrastructure. Parks and facilities in SW need to be more accessible to adults and children with disabilities, and city council needs to provide better opportunities for residents of SW Portland to participate in council meetings. And the name Custer Park. . . this community is very diverse and progressive. Most of our parks in Portland are named in honor of people who lived in Oregon. To have a park named after General George Armstrong Custer is not representative of what SW Portland is.
5. Who is your “Hillsdale Hero,” a person who makes Hillsdale special to you?
Burdick: Mike Roach, along with his wife, Kim Osgood, has been a Hillsdale Hero for me. They have been pillars of the community since opening Paloma Clothing in 1975. Mike has been a leader in keeping Hillsdale Hillsdale as well as a leader in all of the improvements we’ve seen here. He’s also been a spokesperson for small business throughout the state.
Castro: My Hillsdale heroes are our neighbors next door. In good times our kids play together, we share tools and meals and laughs, but we are leaning on each other even harder these days. Another hero for my family is Ron, the owner of Other Worlds Games. My son loves to hang out there and play Magic: The Gathering, and goes there for tournaments and camps. Ron and his staff provide a wonderful and safe environment for kids. Ron has been really important for my son, and we always get so excited if we run into him somewhere!
Dixon: My neighbor, Emily, is my Hillsdale Hero. COVID-19 has disrupted her 3rd year of medical school and she has gotten involved in organizing childcare for doctors and nurses working in hospitals right now. It is super-amazing that Emily has found a way to be of assistance even when her own world has been turned upside down.
Meieran: Mike Roach is my Hillsdale Hero. In my mind’s eye he epitomizes Hillsdale. He’s kind, caring, and supportive, a pillar of our business community and of support for our schools. He sweeps the walkways! He is so dedicated and gives back so much. I don’t think I’ve been to a fundraiser that didn’t feature a Paloma gift certificate.