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Ryan appears to win re-election to Portland City Council; Hardesty faces runoff in November

Early returns showed Ryan with nearly 60% of the vote, solidifying his next term on the City Council, while Hardesty had about 38.9%.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland voters have re-elected Commissioner Dan Ryan to Position 2 in the Portland City Council in Tuesday's primary election.

He had 58.6% of the vote as of 11:19 p.m. while his closest competitor AJ McCreary had just 23.4%. The Oregonian has called the race for Ryan. 

The Oregonian has also reported Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty will face a runoff with an undetermined candidate in November in the race for Position 3 on the City Council.

"I will continue to be positive. Other people can do what they want, but I have a record of accomplishment. So people can say whatever they want, but I can prove to a record. I came in with an agenda, I stayed focused on that agenda and I've had success with that agenda," Hardesty said Tuesday night.

Her closest competitors, Rene Gonzalez and Vadim Mozyrsky, were neck-and-neck as of 11:19 p.m. Early returns show Gonzalez with 24.9% of the vote and Mozyrsky with 24%. 

"You know, anytime you are taking on an incumbent, it is tough. And it looks early, like we split some votes of people who were looking for an alternative to Jo Ann," Gonzalez said Tuesday night. "That also tells you there are a lot of people who want change in this city, who want a redirection. So I'm encouraged by that and we just gotta finish and run it out to the end."

"Where we go from here is pretty obvious," Mozyrski said. "Portland has a lot of difficulties. We have a rising homicide rate, we have a 50% increase in people living in the streets. That is going to take thinking in a different way and so whoever wins this election, they're going to have to think outside the box."

Both of the races for City Council are nonpartisan. Since Ryan received more than 50% of the vote, he won outright. Hardesty advanced to a November runoff because she was the leading candidate but had less than 50%. As of 11:19 p.m., she had 39.2% of the vote. 

Both Ryan and Hardesty have served during years roiled by the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice protests in the wake of George Floyd's death and rising trends of homelessness and gun violence in the city. 

As a result, their performance could be viewed as a referendum on Portland's city leadership — whether voters believe that the city council has been moving in the right direction to address serious, mounting problems.

Early in the race, there were a nigh-unprecedented 20 candidates running between the two seats. Excluding special election races, 20 candidates is the largest slate since 1970, which had 21, according to primary election records from the Portland City Auditor’s office.

However, the two races narrowed considerably in terms of competition once fundraising and endorsements came into play.

Portland City Council Position 2

Incumbent Dan Ryan was elected in August 2020 to serve out the remainder of former Commissioner Nick Fish’s term after Fish died of stomach cancer earlier that year. Ryan formerly served on the Portland Public School Board and as a nonprofit leader.

As chief of the Portland Housing Bureau, Bureau of Development Services and Joint Office of Homeless Services, Ryan positioned himself as a key player in the city's response to homelessness and the housing crisis. But perhaps the most ambitious initiative under that umbrella, the development of Safe Rest Village sites throughout the city, has been bogged down by funding snags and pushback from neighbors. The first of these sites may finally open this month.

Ryan's biggest challenge came from nonprofit leader and political consultant Alanna Joy "AJ" McCreary, who argues for more progressive alternatives to Ryan's policies.

Ryan took a stance against cutting the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) budget, while stipulating that the agency still needs increased accountability and reform. McCreary put a greater emphasis on non-police alternatives, proposing that PPB's Crisis Response Team and Behavioral Health Unit be dissolved in favor of investing in Portland Street Response and community organizations.

McCreary vowed to do what she can to end sweeps of homeless camps and decriminalize homelessness, instead opting for a "housing first" model that prioritizes permanent housing instead of temporary shelters. Ryan has championed the Safe Rest Villages, which are low-barrier transitional shelter communities.

RELATED: Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan, leading opponent AJ McCreary make their pitch to voters | Straight Talk

Portland City Council Position 3

Incumbent Jo Ann Hardesty was elected in 2018. She was the first Black woman elected to city council, with a background as a veteran and civil rights leader. As commissioner, she heads the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland Fire & Rescue and the Office of Community & Civic Life.

Hardesty has a track record of periodic controversies, but she entered the election with a fresh victory under her belt. She championed Portland Street Response, which received a glowing review in a recent Portland State University report and the support of Mayor Ted Wheeler for an upgrade to 24/7 service.

At the same time, Hardesty has made headlines for butting heads with other city officials and criticism for her handling of personal finances while in charge of multiple city bureaus. She's also been a target, becoming the subject of a leak from three PPB employees in March 2021 that falsely identified her as a hit-and-run suspect, for which she filed a lawsuit in December seeking a total of about $5 million in damages from the police union and two of the officers.

"When you have taken on police accountability issues as long as I have, you come to expect these kinds of attacks," Hardesty said following the leak. "This is a normal tactic used to discredit people."

Hardesty faced challenges from two well-funded candidates — administrative law judge Vadim Mozyrsky and attorney and business owner Rene Gonzalez. Both positioned themselves as more business and development-friendly than Hardesty.

In a debate, Mozyrsky emerged as the moderate candidate, calling for policies to reform and rebuild police while stopping short of Gonzalez's full-throated renunciation of "defund police culture" — an apparent jab at Hardesty, who has supported limited cuts to the PPB budget in the past.

RELATED: Hardesty debates two challengers in race for Portland City Council

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