PORTLAND, Ore. — Days ahead of the Oregon primary, Derrick Peterson, candidate for Multnomah County Sheriff, was campaigning in Hillsdale.
"It's great," he said. "It's fantastic to get out and meet the people."
If Peterson becomes Multnomah County Sheriff, the real work begins. Many say there is no bigger issue in our community than the gun violence epidemic.
"It's mindboggling and it's sad," Peterson said. "We had a place, kind of a utopian situation here in Portland."
Peterson is deeply troubled by the more than 500 shootings in Portland to start the year. At least 34 people have been killed by that gunfire. The city is on pace to surpass last year, when 69 people were gunned down in more than 1,300 shootings. Peterson, who is currently a captain at the sheriff's office, says ending the violence will take a proactive approach that involves the entire community.
"We have to have all hands on deck right now and really address this issue with our community partners, our organizations out there and all our law enforcement partners as well," Peterson said.
"Overwhelmingly, people don't feel safe in our community," said Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell.
Morrisey O'Donnell, who is running against Peterson, is also concerned about gun violence. She was introduced to it as a teen.
"My father was shot in the chest by a 15-year-old boy robbing his store, so I recognize and understand how that sense of safety and security can be ripped away from you," she said.
As current undersheriff in Multnomah County, Morrisey O'Donnell said she has addressed gun violence by adding an investigator to solely focus on it. She said she has beefed up the gun dispossession team, and she will do more if elected.
"I am dedicated to working alongside our community, working with our neighborhoods, working with our community based partners to really find those avenues where we can connect with people, where we can really be able to understand what's happening in our communities," Morrisey O'Donnell said.
"We're looking at an epidemic, an emergency type situation," Peterson said.