Betsy Johnson talks homelessness, reputation and business retention in Q&A with Greater Portland Inc
12 Oct 2022
Oregon voters will elect a new governor on Nov. 8. Over the last several weeks, Monique Claiborne, president & CEO of Greater Portland Inc, the regional economic development organization, sat down with each of the three candidates in a series of interviews.
The conversations cover key economic issues, including business recruitment and retention, restoring livability in Portland, top economic priorities, taxes and incentives, agency alignment and land-use policy.
Our second interview was with Betsy Johnson, who served in the Oregon Legislature for 20 years, representing parts of Northwest Oregon. She is running for governor as an independent.
On convening existing organizations to tackle homelessness:
“On the day after the election, I would convene all of these relevant groups and talk about budgets, data – How do we know we’ve moved the needle on getting people off the streets? Assign accountabilities and dates when projects were due. Get can-do, want-to will-do people working on this. And if they don’t produce within the agreed upon timeline, get different people.”
On decriminalized drugs:
“I would lead the conversation to re-refer ballot Measure 110 to the voters, and if the legislature won’t do that, I’d lead the charge to go get the signatures. We have functionally legalized hard drugs with the promise of treatment that nobody is taking up. We’ve got to get serious about this.”
On retaining businesses:
“Pay attention and pick up the damn phone. … I would call some guy running a shoe repair store as easily as I would call the guy running Intel. ‘How’s it going,’ ‘What’s the business environment,’ ‘How are you being treated,’ ‘What’s the regulatory world look like?’ It’s paying attention and acting as though business recruitment and retention are important.”
On our international reputation:
“As we jerk around some of these international companies that have wanted to come to Oregon …if the word goes out that Oregon is impossible to do business in, that reverberates in a very negative way through the international business scene. … I would be a governor that transmits the message, ‘I care, we want you here,’ and I will knock down every impediment to either keeping you here or recruiting companies to come here.”
On building industrial land supply:
“That’s an action item and we have to do it. I would point out the amalgamation of land that I helped negotiate in Scappoose.”
- Oct. 5: Interview with Christine Drazan
- Oct. 19: Interview with Tina Kotek
- Oct. 26: Recap conversation with Ryan Kuenzi and Rob O’Neill of Moss Adams