PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Since 1851, only 8 women have served on the Portland City Council. Only 2 people of color, both men, have served — and that was decades ago.
That changed Tuesday when Portland voters chose between Jo Ann Hardesty over Loretta Smith.
Hardesty took an early lead with more than 60% of the vote after the polls closed at 8 p.m. and her camp called the race almost immediately.
Hardesty celebrated her victory with hugs and dancing with her supporters. She said she doesn’t believe people voted for her because they were looking for an African American representative but because she was able to relate to their needs.
The former representative, Navy veteran and local NAACP president said her first priority in her new role will be to dismantle the joint terrorism task force between the FBI and the City of Portland and developing a committee to oversee Portland’ Clean Energy Fund Initiative and work to end the homeless crisis.
“I’m going to start right away putting together a group that is going to do a community convening around houselessness and how do we create opportunities for folks that are houseless, whether that means hiring them to pick up garbage, bring mobile food, laundry facilities…” she said.
Hardesty will be in charge of the 911 center, fire bureau and bureau of emergency management but she said she will still push to have some influence over the police bureau, and idea she said the mayor has shot down.
During the campaign, Loretta Smith talked about creating opportunity while Hardesty said she’d be a voice for those on the outskirts of Portland who feel they’re not heard.
Congratulations to Commissioner-Elect @joann4portland and welcome to City Hall! I look forward to working together to promote the needs of all Portlanders, and to make Portland a more prosperous and welcoming city for all.— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) November 7, 2018
Both have political experience — Smith is a Multnomah County commissioner while Hardesty is a former state lawmaker. Though both are Democrats, they have differing views on several issues.
We are starting at Jo Ann Hardesty’s watch party where the crowd is starting to fill the room at Holocene as they wait for results to come in. #KOIN2018Elex pic.twitter.com/Ap1vOWyccc— Velena Jones (@velenajones) November 7, 2018
Hardesty, for instance, does not know whether the Portland Police Bureau should have more officers. Smith, though, thinks “we need to expand police because we have more people here today than we had 10 years ago.”
Another hot topic is how to find a place for the city’s homeless. Smith favors repurposing the vacant Wapato Jail facility and buying existing properties. Hardesty strongly disagrees and has other ideas for temporary shelter elsewhere.
They both agree the city needs faster response times for 911 calls.