Wheeler, Iannarone appear headed to November faceoff

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Portland mayor fell just short of 50%+1 in crowded field

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It appears Ted Wheeler will have a general election opponent in his bid for a 2nd term as Portland’s mayor.

In results released by the Multnomah County Elections Office late Wednesday afternoon, Wheeler had 49.38% of the vote, just short of the 50%+1 he needed to win outright.

His November opponent will be Sarah Iannarone, who earned 23.85% of the primary vote in a crowded 19-candidate field.

Wheeler held a majority lead in the early returns, but as the results trickled in, his lead shrank just below the 50% mark.

He released the following statement Wednesday evening:

“While it’s disappointing to fall just short of an outright majority in the primary, it was always a possibility in such a crowded field. We will finish this primary with a significant margin over any other candidate and will continue to monitor the returns as they are finalized in the next few days. I am humbled by the support I’ve received thus far. Portlanders from all walks of life know how much I love this city, and they know I’ll continue to work hard for them day in and day out. Whether it’s this week or on November 4th, I’m confident that I will earn the honor of continuing to serve the city I love for the next four years.”

Multnomah County Elections Office – Primary Results as of Wednesday afternoon

By 11:53 a.m. Wednesday, the race had narrowed to Wheeler and Iannarone with Wheeler leading 49.87% to 23.62%.

The mayor told KOIN 6 News Tuesday night that should he and Iannarone end up in a runoff, he believes the election would come down to differences in priorities.

“For me, the priorities right now are, number one, making sure we change our antiquated form of government to a more modern, responsive, accountable and representative form of government,” said Wheeler. “I want to continue to work on the chronic homeless situation and by that, I don’t mean just creating more campsites throughout the city like my opponent does. What I mean is connecting people to the services they need to get off and stay off the streets. And to that end, I’m supporting the Bybee Lake center and I want to make sure that that opens in the near future. Third and finally, I want to make sure we address the livability issue. As somebody who was born and raised in this city, I remember when Portland was a national example of a livable city and I don’t think we can make that claim today. I feel a personal obligation to make sure that we clean our city up.”

In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, Iannarone said:

“We are confident that despite the narrow margin, we accomplished a great deal in forcing a runoff in the midst of a public health crisis where the conditions favored the incumbent. We have been unable to knock on doors or host events to reach the public who might have yet to hear of me. But we carry that same sense of optimism that has underlined all of the progressive policies we’ve forwarded so far. We are confident that we have everything we need to succeed in November when voter turnout will likely be much higher, the incumbent is forced to adhere to campaign finance laws, and many of the benefits he gained from the pandemic begin to fade.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, challenger Sarah Iannarone (KOIN, file)

Raiford had 8.14% and Gonzalez had 5.75%.

The others — Michael O’Callaghan (aka, Mike O’C), Bruce Broussard, Michael Burleson, Cash Blanco Carter, Willie Banks, Lew Humble, Floyd La Bar, Mark White, Michael Jenkins, Beryl McNair, Piper Crowell, Sharon Joy, Jarred Bepristis, Daniel Hoffman and Randy Rapaport — realistically aren’t competitive in the race. Two dropped out but still appear on the ballot.

Wheeler told KOIN 6 News on Tuesday night he was “humbled by the results so far” considering how many candidates were in the race.

“With 19 candidates and that included people who were tax-payer-funded, I actually thought the results would be closer than they are,” Wheeler said.

Ted Wheeler vs 16 candidates in race for Portland mayor

Iannarone is known as a small business owner, community organizer and urban policy consultant. She wants to establish organized homeless communities to help people get off the streets. She also ran against Wheeler in 2016 and came in third in that primary. Iannarone talked to KOIN 6 News Tuesday night about what she plans to focus on in the next few months if there’s a runoff.

“There’s a clear difference between us and it’s been clear all along: One is about making investments in community and letting the community lead in our recovery, making sure we’re focused on the most vulnerable,” she said. “And the other one is a more austerity-minded approach in which we’re gonna be looking at budget cuts and thinking about this in terms of scarcity when really we should be looking at this as a time to make investments in things like the Green New Deal that I proposed; in expanding industries that we know are clean; and making sure that we’re leveraging our full potential in this recovery to make the just transition off the fossil fuel economy and have good livelihoods for Portlanders.”

Wheeler won his first term as Portland mayor in the 2016 primary when he bested the field and became the successor to Charlie Hales. He thinks he’s still the best person for the job.

“People know I’m passionate about the job, they know I care deeply about this city and they know I’m gonna continue to roll my sleeves up and work hard every day if I’m reelected,” he said.

Iannarone believes the pandemic has exposed the city’s needs—needs she intends to fulfill.

“We’ve seen how so many things through COVID have proven that the way that Portland was going was not sustainable and so focusing on the things that are going to make us more sustainable and more resilient is going to be our advantage because it’s been our priority all along,” Iannarone said.

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