Oregon ranks first for addiction and near the bottom in drug treatment and mental health care services. It’s gotten worse under Kate Brown and Tina Kotek. The pandemic and legalizing hard drugs made things worse. Right now, Oregon is a perfect storm for individuals with addiction and behavioral health problems and for communities in every corner of Oregon trying to manage the negative consequences and relationship between drugs, mental health, homelessness, and public safety.

As Oregon’s independent governor, I will look beyond ideology and partisan divides and take the best ideas from both parties. Democrats are right that we need compassion, services, and housing. But Republicans are right that we should expect personal responsibility, accountability and no more tent cities. Using our streets as waiting rooms for services or long-term housing is dangerous and inhumane. Compassion without consequences is chaos. I believe the state of Oregon should declare a state of emergency to address our crisis of addiction and mental health. We need to rebuild partnerships with all of our county health departments and provide staffing and resources for both inpatient and outpatient care. We need to demand that counties provide a greater focus on short-term shelter with access to life-saving services while longer-term solutions are ramping up.  

Finally, the situation with BM 110, which legalized certain drug possession and promised more money for addiction treatment, is unacceptable. People are literally dying while state government fails to show up with the services this ballot measure promised. I opposed BM 110 and will work to repeal this failed experiment. But, until it is repealed or replaced, Oregonians need the treatment and recovery programs they were promised. It’s about life and death. As governor, I will not deflect this responsibility as Governor Brown is doing. But that’s months from now. I believe Governor Brown should immediately convene agency leaders, legislative leaders, addiction recovery leaders and law enforcement leaders to hammer out an emergency plan to stand up services and distribute funds within the next 60-90 days. Voters took a risk in approving this law, now government is proving itself incapable of implementing it.