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Fritz wins Portland City Council seat

by: ANNI TRACY, Amanda Fritz celebrated her election to the Portland City Council Tuesday night with supporters.

Portlander Amanda Fritz has easily defeated non-profit head Charles Lewis in the race for a Portland city council seat.

Fritz declared victory only minutes after the polls closed Tuesday evening, and her 70 percent to 28 percent margin has remained stable as votes continued to be counted into the day on Wednesday. Click here to see updated results.

"I'm proud to be a community organizer," Fritz said at her victory party Tuesday evening, echoing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's background, who was declared the president-elect by television networks just moments before Fritz spoke.

By 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, with Multnomah County election officials continue to count ballots, Fritz had 87,480 votes, compared to Lewis' 35,923.

A majority of the City Council attended Fritz's election night party. Mayor Tom Potter, Mayor-elect Sam Adams and Commissioner Nick Fish were in the standing-room-only crowd when Fritz thanked her campaign workers and volunteers.

About an hour after the first results were announced, Lewis said he was disappointed in the results but said he knew that most candidates don't win the first time they run.

"I thought I ran a strong race and learned a lot," Lewis said, as he congratulated Fritz and wished her and the council well. He did not rule out running for office again, but said he needed to think about it.

Fritz will be the first outsider elected to the council with public funds under the city's Voter Owned Election program. Incumbent Commissioner Erik Sten was re-elected with public funds in 2006 but resigned less than two years into the term.

Fritz, who was born in England, is a registered psychiatric nurse and longtime neighborhood activist who first ran for the City Council against Commissioner Dan Saltzman in 2006. She ran on a platform of carefully examining all city spending and providing basic services to all 95 Portland neighborhoods.

Lewis, who grew up in Portland, is a Peace Corps volunteer and Harvard College public policy graduate who returned home when the Portland School District made national news for cutting school days during a budget crisis several years ago. He founded the nonprofit Ethos Music Center to help replace the arts classes that were cut by the district. Lewis also started a Portland tour business that he sold during the election.

The council created the Voter Owned Elections program at the beginning of the 2006 election cycle. Nearly $390,000 in city money was spent that year, including around $140,000 by Fritz in her unsuccessful race for Saltzman's seat.

This year the program is on track to spend more than $1.2 million, including nearly $343,000 by Fritz and over $341,000 by Lewis. Both qualified for the program by collecting $5 contributions from 1,0000 Portlanders before the May primary election.