Portland City Council election too close to call

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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Dan Ryan is slightly leading his opponent, Loretta Smith, in the early returns for the special Portland City Council runoff election as of Wednesday morning.

Ryan had 51.11% of the vote compared to 47.94% for Smith as of Wednesday morning.

More ballots are expected to be counted later today.

The election is being held to fill the remainder of the term of the late Commissioner Nick Fish, who died of cancer in January. Ryan and Smith faced each other in the runoff election because they received the most votes in the crowded May 3 primary election. No candidate won outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. In May, Smith received 18.8% and Ryan received 16.6%.

The current term expires at the end of 2022. Whoever wins or loses can run for a full term in that year’s election.

Smith is a former two-term Multnomah County commissioner who previously worked for Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden. Ryan is a longtime school advocated who served on the Portland Public Schools board and directed the nonprofit organization All Hands Raised.

Smith and Ryan agreed on most issues during the election, including the need to reform the Portland Police Bureau, achieve racial justice, and replace Portland’s form of government with a professional manager and council elected by districts within the city.

Smith, a Black woman, ran for the council in 2018 but was defeated by Black activist Jo Ann Hardesty in a personal race by Portland standards. Hardesty endorsed Ryan against Hardesty.

Because of Fish’s death, four of the five council seats were up for election this year. Carmen Rubio, executive director of nonprofit Latino Network, won the race to succeed retiring Commissioner Amanda Fritz at the May primary election with 67.5% of the vote. Rubio’s term begins in January.

The remaining two council races will be decided in runoffs at the November general election because no candidate received more than 50% of the vote.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, who received 49.1%, is facing a challenge from Sarah Iannarone, who received 24%. Activist Teressa Raiford, who finished third with 8.5%, is running a write-in campaign.

And Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who received 31%, is running for re-election against Mingus Mapps, who received 29%.

The winners of those two elections also will begin their terms in January.

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