In addition to our state/district-wide candidates, we have offered other candidates the chance to share their answers. Here, we have responses from Kori Rodley, Candidate for Ward 3 City Council in Springfield, Oregon.
Why do you think an organization like the League of Minority Voters (LMV) is important?
I think it is very important to continue to lift the voices and build power for under-represented and minority people at every level of civic and government participation. In order for us to truly move forward with power building to tackle the systemic structural racism and white privilege that is embedded in our communities, all our public officials need to be asked and required to not only hear, but to respond and carry the needs of our minority communities with them into public service.
Racism and bigotry still live on globally. How would you approach dealing with this ongoing issue if elected?
While I currently serve as the Equity and Engagement Manager at United Way of Lane County, and have served as the chair of the Equity and Access Advisory Board for Lane County Government, I know that it will be double important to push these efforts of power building into my service as an elected official. I believe that I bring a deep understanding and perspective of how the diversity, oppression, risk factors, and more throughout Lane County both impact and are impacted by the policy decisions made at all levels.
Our criminal justice system disproportionately affects communities of color. What kind of reforms would you advocate for?
First, there should be no such thing as For Profit jails or prisons. None. Ever. Secondly, everything we do from early childhood education on up through how our public safety systems work currently contributes to the “school to prison” pipeline. I could write for days on this but will share a few specific policy areas we need to pay attention to: eliminating the war on drugs and drug policy that disproportionately targets communities of color; collecting data and improving accountability with our policing (data on racial profiling, diversity efforts in hiring and outreach, body cameras with solid policy); reforming laws based and built on racism including “stand your ground.” Again, these are just a few specific reforms and policies I would advocate for.
Similarly, environmental injustice impacts low-income communities and communities of color. What are some examples you have come across in Oregon? How would you address these negative impacts?
Absolutely! It has been well-documented (and experienced) that our low-income communities and communities of color are impacted more acutely by sub-standard water, industrial waste, more toxic working conditions, and more. This environmental injustice and inequities contributes to the social determinants of health and the health outcomes for our communities of color and those communities with the least resources. Recently, I have been working with the Equity and Diversity Coordinator for Lane County on an Equity Impact Assessment tool to be used as we address the inequities of COVID-19 and beyond. I understand that working within government systems means being able to use data and policy to make lasting changes and address these unjust impacts. By aggregating the combined risk factors of race/ethnicity, economics (including asset poverty and home ownership) and age by zip code, we can have a solid tool to direct resources, make decisions, and prioritize funding and relief to those communities most impacted.
What are you already doing and what will you do for undocumented immigrants and families who are torn apart in our community/nation if you are elected
In my work at United Way of Lane County, along with various other positions and work I am doing throughout the community, I strongly support and work to direct resources, raise awareness and directly support organizations and leaders working directly with undocumented immigrants and families that have been so unduly impacted. For me, my work spans from policy and decision making—along with decoding some of the oppressive language and proposals that either specifically target immigrant communities or leave them out of any progress or community support; to directly supporting and elevating the voices and leadership from organizations and communities working with immigrant families.
Civil Rights are the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality. However, access to these rights are not always equitable. What do you think of Affirmative Action policies and protections? If you’re a supporter, please explain why?
Affirmative Action policies and protections have been chipped away over time and I am “seasoned” enough to have witnessed what has happened with the original intention of improving equity in employment, housing, access to services, etc. that was the original intent of Affirmative Action. Because these policies have changed, shifted, adapted, and been attacked over decades, I would argue that the focus on equity has been co-opted and reframed into a focus on diversity. Additionally, the myth that we are living in a “post-racist” society has fueled attacks on the need for Affirmative Action policies and protections. I think it is important that we re-engage in this work and bring the focus back onto equity—racial equity, gender equity, etc. to expand the work and not to continue to limit and attack the use and application.
If elected, what would you advocate for to increase access to education in our communities?
I am a big proponent of early childhood education, bringing high quality, low barrier (cost, location, etc.) early childhood education to all our communities with an access and equity perspective. Additionally, I believe we need culturally-specific supports to families of minority and students of color, along with shifting training and policy to improve the competence (and tackle the bias) in our educators.
Similarly, if elected, what would you advocate for to increase access to workforce training in our communities?
Diversifying our employment training, apprenticeship, and workforce development programs is imperative. I also think continued pressure on our unions to focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion is important as union jobs tend to be strong, living wage, and skilled jobs and access to this work is one of the ways to improve family and community stability.
LMV would like to see an increase of minority leaders engaged in our political processes. How would you encourage Leadership Development and Civic Engagement in our communities?
I think it is important to not just encourage, but to also shift structures and make genuine room at all decision-making tables for minority leaders. I am currently working on a county-wide collaborative effort to support leadership work being done by organizations and communities outside of the dominant culture—instead of always asking people to come to dominant culture tables and projects, I am deeply committed to elevating the leadership and work being done within our communities to help support, mentor, and encourage those leaders to move on to do more work within government systems and structures.
What do you think of the following voting initiatives: (1) Same-Day Voters Registration, and (2) National Vote By Mail?
Yes to both of these!