PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The race for the new mayor of Troutdale is close. In fact, as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Randy Lauer was only 106 votes ahead of Dave Ripma.
That might not seem like many, but to Lauer, it’s a much larger lead than he had four years ago when he ran for city council.
“I won by four votes. That process dragged out for weeks and so I’m glad that I’m not sitting in that position, but I’m not sitting in a super comfortable lead either,” he said.
Lauer didn’t foresee the race being so close. He felt confident in his support from younger voters, especially those in their late-thirties, and he also felt he had a strong social media presence. He said he’ll take the 106-vote lead he has now, but will feel more comfortable when the race is officially declared.
Tim Scott, director of Multnomah County Elections, said all readable ballots received by 8 p.m. Tuesday have been counted. However, they still need to count damaged ballots, out-of-county ballots, hand-processed ballots, duplicated ballots, and challenged ballots, which could still leave room for Ripma to gain votes.
Ripma said he ran for mayor of Troutdale once before, 12 years ago, and the election went very similarly. He said he was ahead by a few votes when the early results came in, but, as Ripma said, “It was all downhill from there.”
Tuesday night, Ripma was only seven votes behind Lauer, but that changed by Wednesday morning. When he saw how his opponent’s lead had widened, he called Lauer to concede and congratulate him.
Ripma said if by some miracle more votes come in and he pulls ahead, he’ll take it, but he’s not expecting that to happen.
“I told him I would look forward to working under him,” Ripma said. He still has two years left in his current term on the city council.
Ripma has served on Troutdale City Council for about 25 years. Lauer considers him a mentor and said if Ripma comes back to claim the lead, Troutdale will still be in good hands.
“I never saw myself as the only option for Troutdale, as the only logical option, I just saw myself as someone who wanted to serve a little bit more and do a little bit more for my community,” Lauer said.
Ripma said if Lauer wins, he hopes he’ll listen to his constituents, attract businesses to the city, and treat all citizens fair and equally.
If Lauer wins, he said he’d like to prioritize establishing close relationships with leaders in other cities, especially with other newly-elected mayors in the Portland metro area.
He’d also like to focus on providing more support for the Reynolds School District.
“Whatever we can do to help Reynolds School District graduate more kids through their curriculum, get kids through the high school and on to college if they want to, whatever we can do to help them,” he said.
Should the tables turn in Ripma’s favor, he said his first priority as mayor would be developing the urban renewal area known as the Confluence Project. The city has cleared off derelict buildings from the property and now officials need to decide what will be built on it.
If he remains in his city council position, Ripma said he will still drive that project ahead and believes he’ll have full support of the mayor and other councilors.
Both candidates value their roles on the city council and say no matter the outcome, they just want what’s best for Troutdale.