Mayor candidates wait, watch and hope at election night parties
Hales, Smith and Brady all thankful for support, even though only two will go on
Supporters at both Charlie Hales' and Jefferson Smith's parties Tuesday night were thrilled by the results - while those at Eileen Brady's party tried to remain hopeful with her third place position but eventually had to admit defeat.
Immediately after the first count was posted, Hales admitted he was "pretty surprised and excited to have that kind of lead." He thanked his supporters, mainly his wife, Nancy, and told the crowd at his campaign headquarters on Southeast Grand Avenue that "there are things we can start now," including strengthening the parks system, doing a better job community policing, and getting the streets in good condition. "We've heard that message, and I'm hear to tell you I won't forget," he said to loud cheers. Some in the crowd held cardboard cutouts of Hales' face or wore buttons that said "Hales yeah!"
Other priorities Hales cited: improving access to preschool and public school in every neighborhood, cleaning up the Willamette River, and working together to reverse the epidemic of gang violence in the city. He pledged to lead with "substance, not sound bites, results, not rhetoric."
Just as he wrapped up his brief address, his wife noticed and pointed to something just outside the glass windows: a passing streetcar. She started waving at it, and clapping, and Hales and the crowd followed suit and cheered, chanting "Choo Choo Charlie!" As an engineer, he's considered the father of the Portland Streetcar, one of his biggest accomplishments.
At the Smith party at a ballroom on East Burnside, meanwhile, several hundred people gathered as a DJ played pulsating music and a Baliwood performer danced on stage to warm up the crowd before Smith appeared at the podium. When he finally did so, about 9:15 pm., his supporters greeted him like a rock star, cheering wildly as he delivered line after line, including a twist on his traditional opening: "Hi, I'm Jefferson Smith, and I think I'm still running for mayor."
In his brief five minutes of remarks, Smith thanked his wife, Katy, who stood nearby on stage, as well as his volunteers and staff who "worked until their fingers bled for the past eight months." He said his volunteers knocked on 49,000 doors; Hales said his campaign reached 35,000 doors. Hales was the first to declare candidacy, in October. Smith said his campaign collected financial contributions from 2,500 people, the largest number in Portland's history.
Smith told the crowd that upon entering the race, "a candidate told me to bow out because I don't have a chance. I don't know what's going to happen now, but I know I've got a chance." He said he's the candidate who's stood up to controversial projects, and who wants to make sure developers pay the basic share of their fees. "We're all in this together," he told the crowd, promising to stick around as late into the night as they did.
Brady's supporters gathered at the Portland Spirit river tour boat, which was moored along the west bank of the Willamette River in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Brady mixed with the crowd throughout the evening and also talked with reporters, expressing her gratitude for the support she received in her first run for political office. Brady also mentioned some of the many people she met on the campaign trail that made a lasting impression on her.
Bradyoriginally said she would wait until all the votes are counted before accepting the outcome, but conceded around 11 p.m. as the gap between her and Smith widened.