Incumbent Ted Wheeler fought off a strong challenge from urban policy consultant Sarah Iannarone to claim a second term as mayor of Portland.
With more than 90% of the votes counted, Wheeler led Iannarone 47% to 41% as of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. Write-in candidates, which include community activist Teressa Raiford, had pulled in 12%.
The win makes Wheeler the first person since Vera Katz, who served three terms from the early 1990s to mid-2000s, elected to consecutive terms as mayor of Oregon’s largest city.
Wheeler’s campaign had not publicly commented on the results as of 11 p.m.
Tuesday brought an end to Iannarone’s second attempt to become Portland’s mayor. She finished third in the May 2016 primary that Wheeler won outright.
Iannarone issued a statement around 10 p.m. on Tuesday saying, “We have decided to go to bed tonight, let the results continue to roll in, and make sure that every vote is counted in this election… Ted Wheeler and I share a belief in democracy, in listening to the will of the voters.”
Among Wheeler’s priorities for a second term are to secure more affordable housing and support services for the homeless, to offer more coronavirus recovery support for residents and small businesses — particularly those owned by Black, Indigenous and other people of color — to create a more sustainable parks system and to launch new public safety reforms.
Wheeler, a 58-year-old Portland-born timber family heir who was previously state treasurer and Multnomah County chair, appeared politically vulnerable in recent months. His leadership amid five months of protests in Portland for police and racial justice reforms drew repeated criticism from constituents, other elected leaders, the Police Bureau he oversees as commissioner, President Donald Trump and others.
Polls heading into the election showed a tight race, with surveys released in September and October showing Iannarone leading by as much as 11 points and Wheeler with a favorability rating of 26%.
He publicly admitted to being unfocused in his leadership of the city and neglectful of campaigning in favor of his city duties. He also said he was reeling from the deaths of his mother as well as his friend and council colleague Nick Fish, a divorce from his wife of 15 years, and protests outside his Pearl District condo that led to him seeking a new home, all this year.
Wheeler was out-fundraised by Iannarone, leading him to loan his campaign $150,000. As of Tuesday, Wheeler has raised around $521,000 this year compared to more than $777,000 by Iannarone, who qualified for public matching funds.
Last month, a new coalition with ties to groups including the Portland Business Alliance, labor unions and conservationists rallied around Wheeler. The group, United for Portland, raised nearly half a million dollars as of Monday and launched ads and mailers attacking Iannarone in an effort to spur voters to reelect the incumbent.
Wheeler’s second term will begin in January.
— Everton Bailey Jr.
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