The big news from election night is that it’s still election night. That is, some key races are so tight they’re still undecided.
Three of the four seats on Portland City Council are still up in the air and could be headed for run-offs.
Here’s how it all went down.
Money for homelessness and streets
If you care about Portland streets and all the people who live on them, you have a lot to cheer about this morning.
Metro’s Measure 26-201, which will fund a variety of homeless services to the tune of $250 million per year, passed easily with 58% support from voters in the three Portland metro region counties of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington. The funds will be raised through a 1% tax on high-income earners (households with income over $200,000 and individuals with income over $125,000) and large businesses (with gross income over $5 million). 65% of voters in Multnomah County said yes to the homeless services tax while only 47% of Clackamas County residents supported it. In Washington County it pulled in 52% “yes” votes.
Homelessness is a crisis that many bicycle riders are intimately familiar with because tents and belongings often block vital off-street paths and many encampments have become bike theft hot-spots.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) got a big boost last night as 77% of voters approved a renewal of Measure 26-209. This is the 10-cent local gas tax that was originally passed in 2016. The measure known as the Fixing our Streets program will raise up to $74.5 million over the next four years and will fund a variety of projects including an unprecedented investment in streetlights in east Portland, $6 million for Safe Routes to School projects, $4.5 million for a mix of diverters and updates on neighborhood greenways, and much more.
“As we emerge from the impacts of Covid-19,” PBOT said in a statement last night. “This investment will be more valuable than ever.”
Portland City Council
If you spend a lot of time on local transportation Twitter you might be surprised that mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone had just over 20% of the votes when the first batch was counted. Many local transportation reformers are heavily invested (mentally mostly) in her campaign and the dread when incumbent Mayor Ted Wheeler jumped ahead with 52% support was palpable.
But overnight Wheeler’s share has dwindled to a mere 50.36%. The goal for Iannarone is to force a run-off. All she needs to do is keep Wheeler under the 50%-plus-one vote threshold. Votes are still being counted and this one looks like it will come down to the wire.
Nonprofit leader Carmen Rubio dominated this race with 68% of the vote. She’ll replace Commissioner Amanda Fritz and become the first-ever Latinx member of Portland City Council. In answers to our questions earlier this month Rubio shared a clear focus on making cycling more available and appealing for a wider variety of Portlanders, especially people of color who live in places that lack strong cycling infrastructure and culture.
Candidate Candace Avalos, a new voice on the local political stage who works at Portland State University, finished behind Rubio with a very impressive 8.6% of the 177,000 total votes.
This race to fill the seat vacated by the late Commissioner Nick Fish has come down to former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith and political newcomer Dan Ryan. Smith currently leads with 19% to Ryan’s 17%. Tera Hurst, a former staffer for Mayor Charlie Hales, is in third with 14.5%.
This race was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night. As it stands now, Eudaly clings to first place by a mere 4,000 votes ahead of Mingus Mapps with 30.8% of the vote. Surprisingly, former City Commissioner and Mayor Sam Adams, who sought a comeback after leaving town in 2012, is in third with 27.8%. Mapps, at 28.7%, hopes to join Eudaly in a run-off but there are still votes to be counted.
Metro District 5
We’ve tracked this race closely because of Metro’s role in regional planning and because it includes veteran transportation reform activist Chris Smith. Latest vote tallies have Smith in second place and run-off position with 22.5% of the vote behind Mary Nolan who has 35.4%. Cameron Whitten is close behind Smith with 19.5%.
State Rep District 46
Portland has a new voice in the Oregon House for District 46. Khanh Pham, organizing director with OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, blew away the competition 86.5% of the vote. This is great news! Pham has worked on the front lines of the fight to promote clean energy and bring a “Green New Deal” to Oregon that gives power to the needs and voices of immigrants and low-wage earners.
Multnomah County District Attorney
Criminal justice reformer and southeast Portland resident Mike Schmidt easily beat a more establishment-oriented candidate in the race for DA. This is an important position for bicycling because major injury and fatality cases often end up in this office. The previous DA Rod Underhill was a bicycle rider (as was some of his top staff). I don’t know a lot about Schmidt yet but the fact that he is very progressive and open to change bodes very well for cycling advocates who want our legal system to work better for vulnerable road users.
Stay tuned for more results as they come in.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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