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Commissioner Rachel Lyles Smith ahead in Oregon City mayoral race, initial results show

Smith is on track to replace embattled former mayor Dan Holladay, who was recalled following controversial comments about the pandemic and racial justice protests.

OREGON CITY, Ore. — A sitting Oregon City commissioner is on track to replace embattled former mayor Dan Holladay, who was recalled following months of controversy during his time in office. 

On Tuesday, the first round of initial election results showed Rachel Lyles Smith with 42% of the vote. Smith currently serves in position 4 on the Oregon City Commission. 

Smith's closest competitor is Leslie Wright Jr., whom the results show with nearly 30% of the vote. Another update on the results is expected Thursday. See all of the initial results here. 

The former mayor was recalled in November following several controversial comments beginning with the pandemic. 

Last spring, Holladay considered issuing a declaration to reopen businesses after the state had shut down because of the pandemic. After the state attorney threatened criminal action, Holladay backed off.

Then in June, in the midst of the George Floyd protests, the former mayor referred to police brutality against Black people as "hardly an epidemic." In another social media post, Holladay asked why there could be protests, riots, looting and vandalism in Portland, but not 4th of July fireworks in smaller communities. Despite calls for his resignation, Holladay refused to step down.

"He had done things to upset people on the right and the left," said Adam Marl, the campaign manager for Holladay's recall. "At a time when we are so highly polarized, it was actually very inspiring to see people coming together. The recall passed with 68% of the vote."

Some Oregon City residents who spoke to KGW said no matter who is elected, the new mayor will have a lot of work to do.

"They need to focus on affordable housing and shelter," said Richard Atwater, who lives in Oregon City. "It's not the fault of the people and it's a problem that's not going away."

Oregon City resident Cody Hinze said the new mayor should have storm cleanup high on the list of priorities.

"We need to focus on cleaning up the whole city after the storm," Hinze said. "Even right now driving around, I still see parts that have not been touched yet."

Video above aired before initial results were released on March 9, 2021. 

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