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Election recap: It’s still not over as key races are too close to call

Posted by on May 20th, 2020 at 9:19 am

Did you see this coming?

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.

Folks like Bill and his dog Buster will get more help to stabilize their lives and get into housing.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

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.

UPDATE, 12:15: New results show Wheeler has dropped below the 50% threshold. Still some ballots to count but looks like a runoff is imminent.

Position 1

Commissioner Rubio.

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.


Position 2
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%.

Position 4
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
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NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

55 thoughts on “Election recap: It’s still not over as key races are too close to call”

  1. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

    I still think Eudaly is in trouble. I can’t foresee anyone who voted for Mapps or Adams voting for her.

    1. Avatar maxD says:

      I disagree. I think there are people who voted for Chloe over Sam based on the fact the has made some tangible progress on the Rose Lane project, where Sam was mostly opportunistic and ineffective on bike/bus infra while he was mayor. That said, I think Chloe would have a hard time against Mingus.

      1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

        Tangible progress? The only segment I’m aware of actually added auto capacity, and while it is a big improvement over what was there before, it reveals nothing about political will or ability to deliver in areas that are more controversial.

        For Eudaly to win, 2/3 of Adams voters will need to support her. Given how deeply she’s alienated so many, that seems unlikely.

        1. Avatar maxD says:

          She has been great for improving renter protections, even though she pissed off a lot of people in the process. I think the Rose Lane project will eventually be hugely significant even if it is super meager and overhyped right now

    2. Avatar JR says:

      That implies that Mapps and Adams voters are in the same voting bloc. I would disagree. Chloe and Adams voters are probably closer related in ideology. Just my impression from reading through candidate statements and whatnot – no basis in data. Will be interesting to see this play out.

      1. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

        They are in the same bloc in the sense that they did not vote for Eudaly.

        1. Avatar 9watts says:

          Perhaps all 90% are in the same bloc in that they didn’t vote for Keith Wilson?

          1. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

            That is also true.

      2. Avatar Johnny Bye Carter says:

        I was torn between Mapps and Adams.

    3. Avatar Alex says:

      While I want to support Eudaly, because I agree with her on a lot of topics, she really has alienated a lot of people, including myself. I feel like she lacks political nuance and is too all or nothing.

    4. Avatar Jon says:

      Eudlay is done. No way a sitting city councilor only gets 31% in an election and wins the run-off in November. That is essentially a 69% no vote. Ouch! As a former officer in my Portland Neighborhood Association she lost my vote and that of many people active in neighborhoods a long time ago.

      1. Avatar Fred says:

        My take on the Eudaly-Adams-Mapps race is that Sam blew it for everyone when he entered the race. He thought he could get 50%, but all he really did was divide the anti-Eudaly vote, thus ensuring Eudaly would survive for the run-off. The big question for most of us was whether to vote for Sam or Mingus – both are very appealing candidates.

        The *only* sure way to get rid of an unpopular incumbent is to run ONE strong challenger. If your goal is to kill the king, you’ve got to focus on killing the king.

        1. Avatar damiene says:

          This argument – which is true in the current system, don’t get me wrong – is always a great opportunity to point out that alternatives exist which do away with spoiler effects altogether. STAR vote is, in my opinion, the best (and it’s local! …which in of itself isn’t a compelling argument for whether it would make for a good system, but the number of voting criterion boxes it checks does):

          Under STAR, you could have as many strong challengers as you wanted and none would take away from the others. Heck, you could do away with the primary altogether – a runoff is already built into the system.

      2. Avatar Gary B says:

        Well, she locked up my vote when she made your NA sad. So there’s that.

        1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

          Yes, but she was too incompetent to finish the deed. Reform will now be that much harder to achieve.

          So you’re right. She made people sad. And accomplished nothing. Good enough for my vote!

  2. Avatar Bikeninja says:

    Another important run-off race in the metro area is for Dick Schouten’s seat on the Washington County Commission. The republican’s pro-development candidate lost handily leaving two democrats, but one of them Jeff Hindley has as one of his goals, more road building and an emphasis on auto transportation to reduce congestion. Not sure of Nafisa Fai’s position but I hope it is better than that. This is important because Dick Schouten is an avid cyclist and promoted cycling solutions in Washington County.

  3. Avatar Wylie says:

    Mayor results feel a bit like a punch in the gut. I seriously hope we see a runoff as Wheeler is the status quo embodied.

    Happy about Chris for metro heading towards the runoff, and those two measures are going to help, though I fear the $20 mill a year or so from gas tax really doesn’t seem like a whole lot for a city which is obstinately dealing with 2+ million inhabitants.

    1. Avatar Jeff says:

      Wheeler is certainly not ideal, but there were literally no good options for replacing him.

      1. Avatar 9watts says:

        That is an curious statement.

        1. Avatar dwk says:

          Why is that curious? He is voting for Wheeler. Who do you support?

          1. Avatar 9watts says:

            It is not curious (to me) that he is voting for Wheeler, it is curious (to me) that he makes such a broad brush dismissal of all the folks who are running against him.

            1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

              Vote Lew Humble!

      2. Avatar notsoclearcut says:

        Please elaborate

    2. Avatar Johnny Bye Carter says:

      I was disappointed that Chris wasn’t on my ballot, I really wanted to vote for him.

  4. Avatar RudiV says:

    I’d venture to say that there isn’t a single native of any spanish speaking country in the world that “identifies” as “latinx”. It is cultural imperialism by white lefties who seek to impose their peculiar obsessions on others in the name of… ending cultural imperialism. Or something.

    1. Yeah I hear you RudiV. I changed it to Latina.

      1. Avatar notsoclearcut says:

        FWIW I see people of color using latinx all the time. American Spanish speaking communities are a thing and many in it like and prefer the use of gender-neutral language.

      2. Avatar Alex Reedin says:

        Personally, I preferred “Latinx” – it’s clearer in stating that there has never been a Latina, Latino, or Latinx member of City Council. “first-ever Latina member of Portland City Council” makes me think that there *has* been a Latino member of Council, which is not true. Just because there’s a political opposition to use of “Latinx” due to its use by trans people doesn’t mean it’s not a useful and widely understood word in American English and American Spanish.

        1. Avatar Alex Reedin says:

          Sorry, I was putting words in people’s mouths by saying that opposition to “Latinx” is driven solely by its use by trans people. That is not true. But regardless – it is useful and widely understood. Rubio’s website uses it, so between that piece of info and her politics, I suspect she would be fine with being described as “Latinx.”

          1. Avatar Alex Reedin says:

            Welp, reading more, her website says she would be the first Latina on City Council. So probably “Latina” is best.

            1. Thanks. I noticed that OPB used “Latina” so there’s that. Also… there’s often no right answer on stuff like this. We should focus more on people’s intention and the context.

        2. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

          I believe the best policy is to let people choose the labels used to describe their identity. Since this question is sure to have arisen before, why not follow Rubio’s lead?

        3. I’ve changed it back to Latinx after someone pointed out that Rubio herself uses that descriptor on her website. Thanks for the feedback.

    2. Avatar Norton says:

      I see it used often, especially by POC queers who want the non-binary option. Maybe it’s a generational divide.

    3. Avatar GlowBoy says:

      I don’t think that’s even remotely close to true. And why would only natives of Spanish speaking countries be eligible? There are plenty of American-born Latinx folks, if you haven’t noticed.

      1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

        And I speak some Spanish. Surely I get a say.

        1. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

          Oui! I mean Si!

  5. Avatar Cyclekrieg says:

    Amanda Fritz is out! There may in fact be a higher power. Hopefully, this means urban mountain biking isn’t jammed up anymore now that Fritz (and the late Fish) are no longer in the game. It was there declaration that kneecapped Riverview in the midst of public process.

    1. Avatar Steve B says:

      She is retiring and didn’t run for reelection.

    2. Avatar Middle of the Road Guy says:

      How many people actually care about urban mountain biking to make it campaign issue?

      1. Avatar dwk says:

        After reading this, I will not support these guys anymore at all…. An MTB trail is more important than basic humanity. I don’t want Trump to die of cancer as bad as he is.

    3. Avatar Chris I says:

      Dude. Her husband died in a car crash. Do a tiny bit of research before posting. This makes you look like a monster.

  6. Avatar Gary B says:

    As of the noon update, Wheeler is down to 49.86%. Considering the trend, it looks like it’s headed to a run-off!

    1. Avatar Chris I says:

      Hooray. We get 5 more months of political ads and Op-eds, and then Wheeler will win anyway.

  7. Avatar todd.boulanger says:

    Wow, time flies. It is heartening to hear that voters south of the Columbia River voted to reaffirm a 10-cent/ gallon local gas fee (Fixing our Streets program, >$15m/yr) versus Clark County voters who reaffirmed [future governor] Tim Eyman’s vision of a less well maintained Washington State roadway system…1999 vote (i695) and 2019 (i976). [Vancouver will loose at least $5m this year in TBD funds, speaking as one of the City’s former Transportation Benefit District commissioners.]

  8. Avatar Norton says:

    Voter turnout numbers are insane. 48% this year, up from 30% turnout in 2018. Half of everyone you know is blowing it

  9. Avatar SERider says:

    I’ve still never understood why at large city council (which is a terrible anachronism) does their voting this way. Why do candidates compete against each other for specific seats? They should all be competing against each other and top candidates get as many seats as are available. Since it’s at large, it really shouldn’t matter.

    That said, most of us agree that council should be location representative.

    1. Avatar damiene says:

      Plurality voting for single-member seats next to other equivalent single-member seats really is an awful way to elect a body. In theory, the council is supposed to rotate, but even then you could elect two seats in one multi-member election every two years (with the mayor being its own thing).

      But, if we were going to go through all the effort to change that, I heartily agree we should change it up much more significantly, such as with the geographic representation you mentioned.

      Preferably, no longer using plurality voting.

  10. Avatar one says:

    I ride my bicycle year round and I vote.

    I really hope Sarah Iannarone is our next mayor! And I really want Wheeler out (And he used to be a Wall Street Hedge Fund Republican.)
    I wanted to see Cameron Whitten as Metro rep, but I’d also be thrilled to have Chris Smith step in that spot now.
    I voted for Chloe Eudaly and I definitely will again.

    JoAnne Hardesty is my favorite city counsel rep and I will revote for her in 2 years.

    And I voted for Bernie, but I would have also loved to see Elizabeth Warren as our next president.

    1. Avatar one says:

      Still trying to figure out this downvote button. I got 0 upvotes and 3 downvotes for my comment? Why? Because Ted Wheeler supporters? Or because Chloe haters? I don’t love the downvote button so far. BP has changed a lot in 15 years (In similar ways that Portland has changed- towards the right.) 🙁
      I still love BP, but I don’t love the comment section as much as I used to before any like buttons or voting buttons.

      I don’t make “I miss old Portland” comments. But I will say that I loved the BP comments from many years ago. There weren’t as many readers/ we’re much more local/ much more positive in the comments. They are still there. Go see!

      1. Hello, Kitty Hello, Kitty says:

        For full transparency, I downvoted this comment (but not your original comment) because I’m downvoting every comment that complains about downvoting. Call it a hobby.

        On some forums I participate in, it is custom for people to explain downvotes. I have found that to be very helpful.

      2. Avatar DangerousStreetsFingRULE says:

        People are gross, if you get a lot of downvotes take some solace in that a lot of people read your comment

      3. Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) says:

        Hi one,

        We’re still trying to figure out downvotes too. A very robust discussion about them in the Forums and with our tech dev is happening right now. We want to make sure people aren’t abusing them.

        That being said, if they reflect community opinion than that’s just what it is. I agree with you that a lot has changed in 15 years! Sometimes I get down about that too. But other times I make peace with it because change just happens and I’m happy that we are still here and can be a part of whatever comes next.

        And yes, our audience has grown and changed tremendously since the days when it felt like I knew every single person who commented here. That was nice. But it wasn’t reality. Reality is messy and diverse voices and debates.

        In many way, even though my heart is sad about those “good old days” that will never return I am also excited that we now host much more robust debates where people of all opinions participate.

        I know downvotes don’t feel good, but I wouldn’t make too much of them.

        I appreciate you commenting here and I hope you continue to do so.

  11. Avatar todd.boulanger says:

    Sam Sam Sam. ;-(

  12. Avatar Bob Weinstein says:

    In my opinion, one thing is clear with respect to the results from the Eudaly/Mapps/Adams race for City Council.

    Eudaly is deeply unpopular with the people of Portland. When an incumbent commissioner has almost 70% of the people vote against her by supporting another candidate in what was essentially a 3 way race, she is in trouble. Big trouble.

    This should not be a surprise, given Eudaly’s failure to realize that she was elected to represent all the people of Portland- not just like-minded individuals. This was demonstrated by:

    a. her clumsy, less than forthright- and ill-fated- attempt to gut neighborhood associations;
    b. her failure during her tenure of running PBOT to make public safety the top priority on the streets and sidewalks- reducing fatal and other traffic accidents, increasing biking safety infrastructure, and keeping pedestrians safe not only when crossing streets but when walking on what should be scooter-free sidewalks.

    The fact that the 10 cent gas tax extension was overwhelmingly approved by the voters means that the public strongly supports infrastructure funding to fix streets and sidewalks and enhance public safety for all- motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, just as the fact that the voters overwhelmingly voted for a candidate other than Eudaly clearly means that they want someone else at PBOT’s helm.

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise that just before the election that Eudaly and her staff started talking about bicycle safety, nor that Jamey Duhamel apparently failed in her remarks to the Bicycle Advisory Committee to make any mention of the last fad she and her boss tried to foist on Portland with little concern for pedestrian safety- especially senior citizens like me as persons with physical and/or visual disabilities: the e-scooter program that was to be the end all,”fun” solution to “last mile” transit, and so on.

    Finally, in my years of experience with elected officials, I found it was better to make a judgement of their performance based upon their entire tenure in office, not simply what they promise when they are looking for votes during an election cycle, as their willingness to admit they made a mistake and work with concerned citizens to correct it.

    So if you want a candidate with integrity and intelligence; who is a good listener who will engage in a respectful manner with people, including those with views diverging from his own; who will represent all the people of Portland; who will look for practical solutions to Portland’s issues and problems; and who believes in public engagement before- rather than after- decisions are made, Mingus Mapps deserves your consideration.

    For positive change at City Hall…go Mingus Mapps!

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