The HOT Seat: Teressa Raiford

Compared to her opponents, Teressa Raiford has two things going for her, she has one of the most recognized names and she knows first hand what’s going on out here in these streets! In other words, Teressa Raiford is so in touch and in tune with the working class some refer to her as being Too Hood. Let’s examine this if only for the moment.

If too hood means community organizer, identifying and addressing community issues, analyzing policy, speaking directly to the people she hopes to one day represent, working tirelessly on the behalf of young folks in N Portland and beyond, organizing Senior citzens and striving for economic development in underdevelopment communities, what’s the problem? Teressa Raiford seems to have her hand on the pulse of what’s going on in district #2. The question is, if elected, will she keep it there? You be the judge.  Note: If you support Teressa Raiford’s campaign donate and volunteer!

Hello Teressa, how are you? And how is the campaign going?
I’m well and the campaign is going very well.

First, let’s get this out of the way.  How do you respond to people who claim you are “Too Hood” to run for office? (Personally, I don’t see this as a bad thing).
The question is quite reflective to the low value some Portlanders see in local leadership including their own access to democracy.  I believe that when folks jointly consider the necessity for their inclusion in local politics “hood” there in lies the problem.   In order to serve 36 neighborhood’s in a district as diverse as mine being “hood” is an asset when your platform is based on direct engagement.  All hoods have to be included in order to reform an inequitable system built for the people.

On to you and your campaign. What are the pros and cons of running for an elected office?
The pros of running for elected office include additional outreach to community members and accessibility to agencies that can offer recourse for some of the issues they are dealing with as a continuum.  The cons of running for elected office are the value placed on your involvement from local government officials, politicians and organizations which may or may not benefit from your engagement in the political arena.  Special interests in politics can sometimes trump the vision of a democratic society where every voice is welcome to the policy making process.

Let’s back up a bit, inform those who may not know why you decided to run for this particular office…
I chose to seek this seat because it’s my duty as a public servant.  Several diverse members of our city and throughout the state would like for me to serve as a representative of their needs in regards to public safety, health, jobs, housing and sustainability which includes community education and direct engagement.  What’s good for Multnomah County is a reflection of our values toward people throughout the State of Oregon.  We need better representation to reconstruct our communities from the inside out.

Highlight your experiences, employment, education and skills that qualify you as a viable candidate for Multnomah County Commisioner Seat #2.
My background includes working for companies like Bank of America, as a regional manager my duties were to train online bankers, develop efficiencies in system navigation and support a regional online banking system that included the entire Lone Star region.  I left there to work in the energy industry during a deregulated, state wide system upgrade.  The skills learned in this industry helped me acquire the education I have in mergers and acquisitions.  Working for TXU Energy also helped me understand the value of budgets, vendor relationships and negotiations all which will be utilized in building relationships throughout District 2 that will be designed to benefit all people in Multnomah County.  Our district needs to build and develop strategies to bridge communities out of poverty and to leverage economic opportunities utilizing community education.  As a philanthropist I have worked with several grassroots organizations as a volunteer in the capacity of board member, member at large, chair or vendor.  In this arena I have helped develop system efficiencies.  Politically I have worked with numerous organizations and community members to get safer gun legislation on our state constitution, this work led me to organize a rally in honor of Trayvon Martin with a theme used to focus on state gun laws and contacting legislators.  I have also developed and organized a National Night Out event which included direct engagement for members of the community with invited speakers like Daryl Turner, the President of the Portland Police Association STRYE Organization, Bus Project.  People were also able to meet politicians, grassroots community organizations and city, and county related vendors. I’ve also partnered and developed blueprint programs focused toward becoming an accredited STEM curriculum.  This project will create a foundation for the World Arts Foundation, Inc the organization that has hosted the national designated King Tribute for over 29 years here in the NW.  I often serve as a logistics catalyst for development and structure for funding proposals program development and outreach for underserved communities.  Other educational advocacy has included direct support of families dealing with domestic violence, educational rights for children with disabilities, veterans, foster children, I’ve had to continuously provide health service navigation for community members with addiction, homelessness, mental health, aging and violence related issues that block their access to safety and sustainability.  .

I recently resigned as State Director for UniteWomen.Org, UW is a national organization focused on women, and human rights.  I served as S.D. here in Oregon since 2012 and left this post to focus directly on the upcoming election.  I serve as community and economic outreach chair for the Oregon Assembly for Black Affairs.  As a Our Town, board member,   am working with educators, business owners and media companies to build and preserve local history using arts and education.

Teressa, it seems as though everyone knows you. If they don’t know you, they’ve definitely heard your name. You seem to have a grassroots approach to politics, is this accurate?

Most people run for office to fix things, what needs to be fixed in Multnomah County? 
We need an upgrade in our systematic delivery of information and resources. The upgrades will need to come from a top down “fix” approach. The “fix” will only be successful with inclusion of all district stakeholders. Stakeholders in a reform system will work to bridge civic engagement and document, report and  follow up with input from actual community members. Town halls will help us build the necessary communication system for information distribution and agency accountability.

What’s the current climate in Portland’s political landscape?
If you look at this election, just as an example, you will notice that in a not so subtle way, some local leaders appear to have a united front against democracy.  In this race there have been several us against them stances and its relevant in media which appears to be a turn off to voters who are looking for equity, change and inclusion.  We have what looks to be bias, or pitting and thats not democratic at all.  Several times I have had to assure folks that democracy ensures we are all qualified to serve.

How stressful is running for an elected office?
I don’t feel stress, I would call my emotional state “empathetic” to the needs of people who live and work in District 2.  I can definitely relate to our citizens regardless of our ethnicities, age, economic backgrounds and education.  Multnomah county is filled with “everyday people” we want better leadership with a direct approach to making our communities better for our children, safer for our vulnerable and elderly and sustainable for our long term goals as families, businesses and schools.

How can people help out your campaign?
I want to serve from a position that has resources and access to direct systems managers and politicians so that means I will need your financial support, time, and energy.   Volunteers can help get people to register to vote and vote RAIFORD in this election.  Stop by our office and drop off paper, pick up brochures, and get on the schedule for local events in need of volunteer crews.  We are also looking for those who would like to canvass with us in their neighborhood!!!
Join the Campaign at

  • When I read the question about being “hood” I really didn’t know what to think about people who make those kind of statements. This article turned out pretty cool I hope you check it out and leave your comments. You too Virginia Cohen, Good, Bad or Ugly

  • Noni Causey

    I think this is an amazing article, and I wish her much success. All to often we the people end up with the same types of elected officials. Meaning those that have been groomed for the office or those us have family and friend history with the elected office, so they can then ride on their associations. I am go grateful that RAIFORD isn’t ashamed of being from the HOOD, Which to me means she can under the needs of many of the people, and not just the few in power. You have my mote of /20/2014

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