Voters elect three newcomers to city council

UPDATE: As of Friday evening, Greg Macpherson and Kent Studebaker remained separated by 152 votes — a less than 1 percent margin — with Studebaker still in the lead.

Of a total 189,404 ballots returned to the Clackamas County elections division, 188,242 were reflected in unofficial results released Friday afternoon. The remaining 1,162 ballots not yet counted there could be from anywhere in the county.

Studebaker captured 9,151 Clackamas County votes, according to the latest counts. Combined with Multnomah and Washington counties, which also released new ballot counts later Friday, Studebaker had a total of 9,780 votes.

Macpherson landed 8,911 votes in Clackamas County; combined with the other counties, he had a total of 9,628 votes, according to the latest results.

The three counties' elections offices anticipate updating results again next week.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Mayoral candidate Greg Macpherson checks election results Tuesday night at the city's municipal golf course, where a party was also attended by council candidates Jon Gustafson, Terry Jordan and Bill Tierney. With Macpherson is local school board member Linda VERN UYETAKE - Mayoral candidate Kent Studebaker reviews early election results with his wife, Kim, at a Lakeview Boulevard warehouse party also attended by council candidates Karen Bowerman, Skip O'Neill and Dan Williams.

While the race for Lake Oswego mayor remained too close to call at press time Wednesday, voters had elected three newcomers to the six-member council, unseating an incumbent.

Unofficial results of the Tuesday election showed Kent Studebaker with the edge in the mayor's race. A fiscally conservative retired marine and small-business owner who leads the city’s budget committee, Studebaker held the lead over Greg Macpherson by a slim margin — about 156 votes, or about 0.85 percent of the total counted in three counties spanning Lake Oswego.

Macpherson, a Portland attorney and former state representative who ran as the "consensus candidate," said Wednesday morning that he wasn’t ready to concede. Even so, he offered words of congratulations to Studebaker.

“I congratulate Kent on having waged a strong campaign and hope the community will unite behind its next mayor,” Macpherson said, adding: “It looks unlikely the numbers will turn.”

At one point late Tuesday night only about 20 votes separated the two candidates for mayor. But those results had shifted some by Wednesday.

Unofficial tallies showed Macpherson with a total of 9,136 votes overall. He had the lead in Multnomah County with 532 votes — almost 54 percent, and he captured 8,604 of Clackamas County votes — about 49 percent.

Meanwhile, Studebaker landed a total of 9,292 votes, including 8,845 — almost 51 percent — cast in Clackamas County, and 445 — about 45 percent — in Multnomah County; he also nabbed the two votes cast in Washington County.

Ten people opted to write in other names for mayor in Multnomah County. Washington County reported no write-in candidates. Clackamas County write-in results weren’t expected to be available until later in the week.

Like Macpherson, Studebaker was cautious about the early results.

"I wouldn't say there's a clear mandate, but (voters) have been heard," he said. "We'll continue to listen."

To Macpherson, Studebaker said, "No matter how it comes out, he ran a good campaign and I wish him all the best. ... Running for mayor has been an interesting and enjoyable journey."

Wednesday results remained unofficial. Clackamas County Elections Manager Steve Kindred said up to several thousand ballots had not yet been tallied.

Those are likely spread proportionately across cities in the county, he said. They include ballots waiting for voters to come sign them, ballots on which voters' signatures need verification, ballots that weren't entirely readable by machines and need to be duplicated by hand, and ballots dropped off in other counties throughout the state. Also, military and overseas votes might still need to be counted.

In addition, an automatic recount could be triggered if one candidate appears to have defeated the runner-up by “not more than one-fifth of 1 percent of the total votes for both candidates,” Kindred said, citing state statute.

Bowerman leads council race in all three counties

In the race for three city councilors’ seats, voters chose two relative newcomers to city government along with a planning commissioner.

Karen Bowerman led in all three counties with a total of 9,733 votes, according to unofficial election results. She was followed by Skip O’Neill, who landed 8,802 votes, and Jon Gustafson, who captured 8,757 votes overall.

Bowerman attributed the win to her clear stance on issues important to many citizens.

“Throughout the campaign I had people from every walk of life call to say, 'I’m supporting you, Karen, because of your stance on everything from the Lake Oswego-Tigard water project to holding down city debt,'” said Bowerman, a business consultant, member of the city’s 50+ advisory board and former California business school dean who moved to Lake Oswego within the past few years.

She wanted to thank her supporters.

“Given the margin by which I came in No. 1, I want our voters to be assured that I will serve as a voice for all citizens, listening to all,” Bowerman said. 

O’Neill, a construction business owner and Lake Oswego Corporation board member, attributed part of his success to receiving support from two strong political action groups with some differing values.

“I think people in general want the bickering to end and want to ... bring Lake Oswego together,” O’Neill said. “I think they felt I was a good candidate to help make that happen.”

He noted he has also been active in the community.

“I’m excited about being a Lake Oswego councilor and getting to work,” O’Neill said, adding that he looks forward to writing a job description in preparation for hiring a new permanent city manager and working on plans to develop a new facility for emergency responders.

Gustafson, a real estate broker and remodeling company owner who is vice chairman of the city planning commission, said he believes his ideas appeal to young families in the area who might pay a lot of attention to what happens in local schools but who don't always play a strong role in city politics.

“I think I had a positive message," he said. “I really put a lot of effort there because that’s a population I think needs to be represented on the council."

Gustafson added that he thinks one political action committee, known as LOCAL, clearly worked hard to market its slate of candidates, which included Studebaker for mayor and Bowerman, O’Neill and Dan Williams for city council.

“They raised a lot of money, and I think they changed the tone of politics in the city; I’m a little concerned about that,” he said.

Still, he’s looking forward to working with the new lineup of council members.

“I’m still confident we have a city council that works well together, and I think that’s the most important thing,” Gustafson said. “I’m really hoping the new faces on the council will represent a more positive direction, certainly for the group dynamics of the council and hopefully for a continued positive direction for the city moving forward.”

Trailing Gustafson was incumbent Bill Tierney, with 8,224 votes, followed by Williams and Terry Jordan.

Tierney, a manager at Portland General Electric who was elected to his first term on the council in 2008, said he was surprised and disappointed by the results, “but I wish the best to Karen, Skip and Jon.”

“I think the city will be in good hands,” Tierney said. “I look forward to doing whatever I can.”

As of Wednesday morning, Williams, a wood products executive and former city budget committee member, had 7,592 votes cast in his favor. Jordan, a Reiki teacher and massage therapist who also teaches martial arts and preschool while organizing the city’s storytelling festival, had landed 4,862.

While Tierney sought re-election, Sally Moncrieff and Mary Olson didn't run for additional terms. Mayor Jack Hoffman also didn’t seek another term in his position.

The new mayor and councilors will be sworn in to four-year terms at the first meeting of 2013.

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