GRESHAM, Ore. — Even though the general election was almost a month ago, some races are still being called.
Following a recount, entrepreneur Travis Stovall will be the next mayor of Gresham, and the first Black person to hold the seat.
In a hotly contested race, Stovall came out with 13 more votes than Eddy Morales, a current Gresham city councilor. Stovall had 16,646 votes to Morales’ 16,633, while three other candidates trailed behind.
The recount was triggered after “challenge ballots” were counted on Nov. 18 and the race was within 0.2%. The hand-conducted recount didn't change much, as previous results had already shown Stovall up by 13 votes.
The final results were released Wednesday and certified to the City of Gresham, according to Eric Sample, of the Multnomah County Elections Division.
Stovall said in a statement to KGW, "While the race was extended to ensure every vote was counted, we welcomed the process of ensuring that everyone had an opportunity to participate in the democratic process. I want to express thanks for all the mayoral candidates and all the work that went into the campaigns. I look forward to working with Councilor Morales as we work to move the City of Gresham forward."
The Morales campaign also sent a response to KGW on Wednesday night that reads, in part:
Earlier today the Multnomah County Elections Division completed their automatic recount for the Gresham Mayoral race. After record turnout, with over 45,000 Gresham voters casting their ballots in this critical election, our campaign remained 13 votes short of victory. I have been in contact with Mayor-Elect Travis Stovall, and we will meet to discuss community priorities for City Council once he takes office.
I want to thank our supporters and volunteers who powered this campaign, making over ten thousand phone calls, distributing voter information across Gresham, and helping drive the highest turnout in our city’s history. We could not have made it this far without their energy and effort. Thank you to all our endorsers, labor partners, and community organizations that were part of our diverse, inclusive coalition.
As a result of our organizing and coordination, the Gresham City Council, for the first time in history, includes a progressive, community-centered majority. Together, Vince Jones Dixon, Dina DiNucci, Mario Palmero and I will usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility, accountability, transparency, and positive change in Gresham.
In a past interview with KGW, the candidates discussed the issues that the mayor will have to face, like Gresham's $13 million budget shortfall.
Stovall aims to make budget cuts while still ensuring critical services are available. Embraced by the business community, he plans to prioritize equitable economic development.
"Economic development in itself is not bad, but it needs to be equitably distributed," he said. "How do we make sure everybody has an opportunity to pull themselves up from poverty to achieve prosperity?"
This high-turnout election demonstrated a shift in demographics in Gresham, Oregon’s fourth-largest city. Either result would have been historic, with Stovall being Black and Morales being gay and Latino.
Stovall will be the first Black mayor in any large town or city in the Portland metro region.
"The recognition of a man of color having the opportunity to lead a major city in the metropolitan area is the recognition of the changing sentiment in our city and across our region," Stovall said. "To say all people need an opportunity to provide leadership. To have the honor to serve the citizens of Gresham would be tremendous."