Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on May 16th, 2018 at 9:05 am
“Portland’s future is female,” reads the headline of the Portland Mercury after last night’s primary election.
In local, regional, and statewide offices, Portland voters made it clear last night they want strong leaders with new ideas and different approaches to solving our problems. And it just so happens many of them are women.
That dynamic was most evident in the race to replace Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman — which was probably the most closely watched contest. With just over 42 percent of the vote, Jo Ann Hardesty earned top spot in a runoff this November where she’ll face off against second-place vote getter Loretta Smith, who received 22.4 percent of the votes.
The win by Hardesty, a woman who distinguished herself during the campaign and in years of public service as an advocate and policymaker with strong opinions on important social justice issues, could be seen as a sign that Portlanders are tired of business as usual. At her party last night, Hardesty reportedly said, “The status quo is no longer acceptable in the city of Portland.” Her presence on council would be dramatic contrast to Dan Saltzman, who’s known for a quiet and predictable style.
Even though Hardesty has expressed skepticism and critiques of ideas considered gospel by transportation reformers, she was able to win over respected grassroots activists Tony Jordan, who founded Portlanders for Parking Reform. In an editorial we published last month, Jordan said Hardesty is, “A reluctant politician and I don’t think she will make the same frustratingly political moves I have seen far too often as an observer of City Hall.” Another favorite among transportation advocates was Andrea Valderrama, a policy advisor for former Commissioner Steve Novick. Valderrama finished with just 10.6 percent of the vote.
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In the other city commissioner race, incumbent Nick Fish won another term with nearly 63 percent of the total votes. Julia DeGraw, a new face on the local political scene with an unabashedly progressive stance on the issues, won a very respectable 31 percent of the vote. I have a strong hunch we’ll be seeing more of DeGraw in the future as she impressed a number of voters with her policy ideas and grassroots campaign style.
East Portland native Shemia Fagan also declared a big victory last night. She beat incumbent Rod Monroe for to represent Oregon’s 24th State Senate District which straddles I-205 and Portland’s eastern border with Gresham. Fagan has been a strong proponent of safe street projects and funding. In 2015 she lead a coalition of legislators to win $17 million in funding for upgrades to outer SE Powell Blvd.
In the race for Metro President, Lynn Peterson wan an easy victory with 78 percent of the vote. Peterson is well-known among transportation wonks and reformers — even before she did a 24-city bike tour during her campaign. She’s held positions as chair of the Clackamas County Commission, director of the Washington Department of Transportation and transportation policy advisor for former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. Expectation are very high for Peterson in this new role as head of our regional planning organization because of the depth of her transportation experience combined with her understanding of suburban and statewide politics (she’s also a longtime associate of former Metro President David Bragdon).
If you’ve been itching for change in Portland (and beyond), chances are you’re feeling good about what happened last night.
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