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Hales rides wave of victory in mayor's race

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Portland Mayor-elect Charlie Hales gets a kiss from his wife Nancy as campaign staffer Brian Rae checks election numbers Tuesday night.Former City Commissioner Charlie Hales gave his victory speech at 8:20 p.m. in the race for Portland mayor, shortly after state Rep. Jefferson Smith called Hales to concede and issue his congratulations.

"We're going to refocus the city on basic services," Hales told a standing room only crowd at the Holocene club in Southeast Portland. "We'll minimize the drama and maximize the results."

Hales jumped put to a big lead in the early results in the Portland mayor's race, topping Smith by a margin of 67 percent to 32 percent.

Although many ballots have yet to be counted, the size of the lead all but assures Hales of being Portland's next mayor.

Mayor’s Race

Candidates Votes Percent
Charlie Hales
106,834
67.46
Jefferson Smith
51,523
32.54


Hales, a former city commissioner, most recently worked for HDR Engineering as a senior vice president, where he promoted the use of urban street cars. Smith, a state representative from east Portland finishing his second term in the House, previously co-founded the Oregon Bus Project, which mobilizes young voters.

Jefferson Smith conceded the mayoral race at 8:30 p.m., and it was hard to tell if his 20-minute speech signaled an end or a beginning.

Smith steadfastly refused to answer questions about his political future and whether he would run for office again. But the mood at the Melody Ballroom in Southeast Portland had little of the somber tone often seen at election night gatherings for those who lose.

Cheers throughout the hall when CNN called the presidential race for President Obama helped keep an upbeat mood. The atmosphere was casual, with a fenced in dog area and inflatable bouncy play castle for children. The barking dogs and bouncing children more than once nearly interrupted Smith’s concession speech.

Smith told the gathering, and later reiterated in an interview, he was most proud of the more than 100,000 doors knocked on, which he claims is a record for a local election. He says the 220 house parties he attended also a record.

Even the first words of concession speech kept it light: “I’m Jefferson Smith and until about 20 minutes ago I was running for mayor.”

He later said, “We didn’t win and I didn’t do everything I needed to do.

“We didn’t quit nor will we quit.”

He added, “If you want to fall in love with Portland, run for mayor.”

Smith said in an interview that the campaign made him aware of three issues he wants to focus on more in future: campaign finance reform is No. 1.

“If it costs a million dollars to run for mayor that aces out a lot of people,” Smith said.

He also said “job strategies” is something he’d like to focus on more in future, including looking at how PDC can generate revenue beyond urban renewal dollars

And, surprising, transportation was third item he listed, looking for more cost effective ways to improve roads and infrastructure.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - State Rep. Jefferson Smith spent a disappointing election night as his run for mayor came to an end as Charlie Hales declared victory.Both candidates were bruised by multiple controversies in the race.

Hales, who quit in the middle of his last City Council term to take the job at HDR, was also weakened by revelations that he continued to vote in Oregon while residing in Washington, which levies no income taxes. Hales then cut a TV ad claiming credit for a City Council action that supported public schools, though that occurred two years after he left the council.

Smith, the most charismatic of the two, initially appeared to have the most enthusiastic supporters, but his campaign lost steam after a series of critical media accounts. He had numerous drivers’ license suspensions and socked a young woman at a party as a 20-year-old student at the University of Oregon.

Though Smith had the momentum coming out of the crowded primary, by the end some of his key backers yanked their endorsements.

Hales will replace Mayor Sam Adams, who declined to seek re-election after one term, following a poll that showed he had only tepid support.

Adams made history as the first openly gay big-city mayor, but his reputation was tarnished by allegations he had sex with an under-age man.

Hales garnered 37.2 percent of the vote in the primary, while Smith captured 32.9 percent. New Seasons cofounder Eileen Brady finished third with 21.7 percent, while 20 other minor candidates divided the rest of the vote.

Reporter Peter Korn contributed to this news story.