More than two weeks after Election Day, Clackamas County appears to have closure in its nail-biter of a county commission race: Lake Oswego Democrat Lynn Peterson has edged out Republican incumbent Larry Sowa by less than one percent of the vote.
As of Monday, Peterson led Sowa 64,442 votes to 63,188 - a difference of 1,254 votes. According to Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall, that's a deficit from which Sowa could not recover, with fewer than 500 uncounted ballots remaining.
Independent candidate David Dodds of
West Linn finished with about 6 percent of the vote. The county clerk will certify the final election results sometime before the end of the month.
A recount isn't going to happen. According to the county clerk, Sowa and Peterson would have to be separated by 1/5 of 1 percent - around 250 votes - to mandate a recount.
Peterson has been running hard for more than a year to oust the long-time commissioner; her election gives Dem-ocrats a majority on the three-person board.
She said she was not surprised at how close the election became.
'I always thought it would be close because of (independent candidate) David (Dodds) and because I was running against an incumbent with so much name recognition,' Peterson said. 'I knew I was making a lot of headway, but I didn't expect a five point lead on election night.'
But since then, watching the results come in has been a 'roller coaster ride,' she says, since she watched that sizable lead dwindle.
Peterson has claimed victory, and is preparing to take office in January. She is touching base with supporters and citizens across the county to prepare for what appears will be her new job in January.
'I'm making notes to myself,' she said. 'There's a lot that's going to needed to be done, and I'm looking for consensus.'
When asked why she thought she won, Peterson said, 'I think the county has said that it wants hard-working, proactive leadership. I think we can start putting our nose to the grindstone and start getting things done in Clackamas County.'
Sowa said he is not ready to concede.
'I understand that there could be a screw-up in the counting,' Sowa said. 'One of the counties (in Oregon) used a surge protector to protect the voting machines from going down, and it caused the votes not to be accurate.'
Sowa said he didn't know if Clackamas County was the one dealing with the problem, but he said he will wait until the votes are certified before he reacts to the results.
'(I'll) just wait until they get it done,' he said.
Pamplin Media Group's David Stroup contributed to this report.