Last night’s election was full of surprises both nationally and locally. And that’s a huge understatement.
Donald Trump was elected president with 279 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton’s 228 (so far). She becomes just the fifth candidate to lose after winning the overall vote count (her national popular vote margin over Trump was 166,443 as of 7:45 am this morning). His win comes despite — or more likely because of — the fact he was endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan, was dismissed by the political and media establishment, is an unabashed misogynist, told blatant lies throughout his campaign and repeatedly hurled vulgar and dangerous insults at a long list of public figures. Trump also connected strongly with a large voting block of rural white Americans who are fed-up with business as usual in Washington and he offered them a clear and simple choice.
Since last night, Trump and his staff have moderated the fiery tone they had on the campaign trail and both President Obama and Clinton have given respectful and hopeful concession speeches. “Donald Trump is going to be our president,” Clinton said this morning. “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
While several hundred Portlanders were so angry about Trump’s victory they held a protest march on I-5 late last night, others looked at local victories for a silver lining.
The most surprising local story is that Chloe Eudaly came out of nowhere to unseat incumbent Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick by a margin of 54 to 46. Eudaly put the rent and housing crisis at the top of her agenda and she tapped into wide dissatisfaction with Novick. Eudaly, the owner of a bookstore with no former political experience, also made equity and inclusion a top priority in her campaign. BikePortland readers will recall that she expressed serious concerns that Portland’s bike share system wasn’t accessible by people with disabilities. In part due to her advocacy on the issue, PBOT decided to add adaptive bikes to the Biketown mix.
Transportation isn’t listed as an issue on Eudaly’s website, but we’ve covered her thoughts on the issue and she’s been an active participant in conversations on BikePortland via the comment section. Back in May we featured one of her comments where she told us she lived carfree for many years while in her 20s and said, “Safe and accessible streets for pedestrians and cyclists are a priority for me and we need to be creating them across the city.” But she tempered her cycling enthusiasm by saying she feels it should be a higher priority to make sure people can safely walk and use mobility devices. “I’d personally love to see continued and increased collaboration between bicycle advocates, disability advocates, and neighborhoods around these issues,” she said.
Portland Mercury News Editor Dirk Vanderhart just tweeted this map showing where Novick and Eudaly got the most support:
Here's the latest precinct map for the Novick (blue)/Eudaly (green) race. He dominated much of west side. Not so much in rest of city. pic.twitter.com/WFB5NoQ5Dk
— Dirk VanderHart (@dirquez) November 9, 2016
Novick is currently the commissioner-in-charge of the Bureau of Transportation. His ouster guarantees new leadership on that front. Incoming Mayor Ted Wheeler will decide who gets what bureaus and so far we haven’t heard any rumors about where PBOT will end up.
A measure that raises nearly $260 million for affordable housing in Portland also enjoyed a solid win. The 20-year tax is estimated to cost the average Portland homeowner $74 annually and will go toward building 1,300 housing units. The new housing will be set-aside for people who make less than 30 percent of the median income.
A renewal of Metro’s natural areas bond measure also passed by a big margin of 73 to 27. This means Metro can move full-steam ahead on key projects like the new off-road biking trails in the North Tualatin Mountains near Forest Park.
Regionally, three cities (Tigard, Cornelious and King City) voted against a gas tax increase that would have raised money for road repairs and maintenance. Clackamas County followed suit by rejecting a six-cent per gallon gas tax by a 63 to 37 margin. While Tigard said no to a gas tax, it appears like voters have said yes to the possibility of light rail by the narrowest of margins.
Another bright spot is that Jim Bernard was voted chair of Clackamas County Commission. He ousted John Ludlow who is a loud voice for highway spending and has been publicly against investments in cycling infrastructure. While Ludlow criticized Metro and told the Portland Tribune in 2014 that, “When they continue to pour in money to bike paths they take it away from roadways” and “Freight can’t use a bike path,” Bernard has much more positive tone toward cycling — and towards Portland-style transportation planning. Ludlow was famous for his stance against “Portland creep,” but in a speech at the opening of TriMet’s Orange line, Bernard said he was, “Happy to welcome the suburb of Portland into Milwaukie.” Bernard also said one of the reasons he wants to be chair is, “Because investments in bike and pedestrian should not be a bad thing. It makes sense for quality of life and economic reasons.”
Statewide, Democrat Kate Brown easily won the race for governor. She’ll be instrumental in the major debate about transportation funding that’s coming in the 2017 legislative session. That debate will be much different now that Measure 97 failed at the ballot box. That measure would have raised $3 billion for state services by taxing corporations. Without that boost to the budget legislators will have a massive shortfall that will make infrastructure spending an even trickier conversation than usual.
Another transportation bright spot last night was the number of victories for transit-related funding measures that passed — including Measure M in Los Angeles. NextCity.org says the estimated $200 billion in funding just approved by voters nationwide is the largest victory for transit in U.S. history. However, there’s a cloud looming: Transit (like all infrastructure spending) is heavily reliant matching funds from the federal government — funds that might not be available in a Trump administration that’s complemented by Republican majories in the House and Senate.
This has been a horrible election where America’s democracy and ideals have been severely tested. Many people are rightfully scared at what a Trump presidency might bring and we must be vigilant and be ready to work hard to keep the hatred and divisiveness that has taken root during this election at bay.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org