Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson Leaves Outer Southeast Portland for West Hills

Gritty East Portland was a character in her political story.

Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson. (Nathaniel Perales)

Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, who has made living on Portland’s outer eastside part of her political persona, has moved west across the Willamette River.

Vega Pederson and her husband had lived off 130th Avenue since January 2006, when they bought a three-bedroom, 2.5-bath house there for $266,400, according to public records. The property is now on the market for $700,000, according to listing site Redfin.

Last month, Vega Pederson and her family moved to Southwest Portland. They are renting a house there, according to her spokeswoman, Sara Guest, who declined further comment.

It’s a move up for Vega Pederson and her family: The chair’s new residence is a 3,800-square-foot, five-bedroom, three-bath house just south of Council Crest Park, according to Redfin. Market value: $1.2 million.

Like anyone, politicians move periodically, but Vega Pederson’s relocation is a significant because East Portland has been a character in her political story. Her bio page on the Multnomah County website still calls her “a proud resident of East Portland for nearly two decades.”

Originally from Indiana, Vega Pederson got a degree in informational systems management and philosophy from Loyola University of Chicago. She spent 14 years in the tech industry before becoming “frustrated by the pressing challenges in her East Portland neighborhood” and running for the Oregon House of Representatives. She won the House District 47 (East Portland) seat in 2012, becoming the first Latina in the Oregon House. She served two terms.

Vega Pederson won election to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in 2016, representing District 3, which runs from Southeast 34th Avenue east to 146th Avenue.

In a press release, after winning her seat on the board, Vega Pederson called on voters to “agitate for innovation, starting with transportation and affordable housing.” The release noted that her family of four lived “on one of the throughways piping commuters to downtown Portland. Most are poorly lit and with few crossways. Hers has the occasional speed bump, but few sidewalks.”

Vega Pederson’s husband, Aaron Pederson, owns the house next door to theirs with a partner, according to property records. It’s on the market, too, for $500,000. Agents aim to sell the two as a pair.

“One of Two adjacent houses on big lots in SE PDX to be sold combined,” the Redfin listing for Vega Pederson’s house says. “Potential for 20 townhomes or a 32-unit cottage cluster when combined. Ideal investment opportunity for developers & builders.”

After six years representing District 3, Vega Pederson won the race to become county chair in 2022. Unlike the four commissioners, who must live in the geographic districts they represent, the chair is elected at large and may live anywhere.

Vega Pederson mentioned the challenges facing East Portland in her first State of Multnomah County speech, delivered in May 2023 at Franklin High School in Southeast Portland.

“We live in a country where income inequality is the highest it’s been in decades,” Vega Pederson said. “Where gun violence has overtaken car accidents as the number one killer of young people. Where life expectancy, along with birth rates, are falling.”

She continued: “I know those of you living right here in the Franklin school community have dealt with these issues firsthand, including recent acts of community violence. I know this all too well myself as the mom of teenagers living in the same house in the Hazelwood neighborhood in East Portland for nearly 20 years.”

Eighteen years and three months, to be exact.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.