Nafisa Fai and Jeff Hindley lead in the election for Washington County Commissioner in District 1 with 43% and 34% of the vote, respectively, unofficial voting results Tuesday, May 19, show.
A third candidate, Manuel Castaneda, currently has 22% of the vote.
If no one wins a majority for the nonpartisan position, the top two finishers advance to the Nov. 3 general election.
Whoever wins the election for the district, which stretches from Beaverton to Aloha, will replace Dick Schouten, who has occupied the seat on the five-member board for 20 years is seeking an open seat in the Oregon Senate.
"I'm excited and honored to have the votes of the voters in my district," Fai said Tuesday night. "I truly believe that our district can have a tremendous impact and I know that I will never stop working on behalf of our residents, making sure that I elevate voices of those in our community that have not been heard and shaping the future of our county to be vibrant and prosperous and inclusive."
Fai said she plans to celebrate receiving the highest vote total among the three candidates before getting back to campaigning for the November election.
"I look forward to continuing to engage with the residents on the issues impacting them and working with them to achieve success in November."
Fai's opponent with the next highest vote total, Hindley, was cautious about the initial election results Tuesday night, saying he planned to continue watching the results in case Fai inched closer to the majority needed to win the election outright.
"I'm, frankly, a little surprised to be honest," Hindley said about receiving the second-most votes. "I was pretty confident, but if I was a betting man, I thought I would come in third place. I was pretty nervous."
He said he planned to look at the election results by precinct in the coming days to help strategize for the November election.
Hindley said his policy positions were more distinct from Fai's than they were from Castaneda's and he planned to better explain the differences to voters in the coming months. Getting his message out to more voters, particularly unaffiliated voters, will be key to his chances in November, he said.
"I've been in government for 20 years and I think the thoughts I have about what I would like to do aren't going to be changing," Hindley said. "For me, it's just getting the vote out to more people."
Prior to the election, Fai said it's time Washington County's elected officials reflect the county as Oregon's most diverse in terms of population.
"I am running to be a voice that really represents the diversity of our district," Fai said in an interview.
As commissioner representing a district stretching from Beaverton to Aloha, Fai said her priorities would be to tackle affordable housing, attack the root causes of poverty, and making things better for working families. She also said she would take unspecified actions to deal with traffic congestion and promote business growth.
She has been self-employed since 2017 as the director of the Pan African Planning Group.
After she earned a bachelor's degree from Portland State University in 2010, she was a diversity and quality improvement consultant for the Multnomah County Health Department from 2010 to 2014, and a program manager for the Portland nonprofit Upstream Public Health from 2014 to 2017.
She sits on the advisory committee for Clean Water Services, the agency in charge of wastewater and stormwater treatment in urban Washington County — the county commissioners are the agency's governing board — and the state Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Review Committee. Gov. Kate Brown appointed her to the latter panel, which advises the state Public Health Division.
Fai, who came to the United States when her family fled war-torn Somalia as refugees, lives in Aloha with her husband Sam and two children.
Prior to the election, Hindley said his priorities as commissioner would be to improve vehicle infrastructure; increase drug education and prevention in schools; create a broader and more comprehensive approach to homelessness than the county's current plan, which was adopted in 2018; create a master plan for a tiny-home community within the county; promote fiscal responsibility and oppose tax increases; and create term limits for all elected county officials — limits would require voter approval of a change to the county charter.
Hindley has worked for more than 20 years in Yamhill County government, currently as a supervisor for at-risk youth in the juvenile detention center in McMinnville. He sits on a couple of Washington County boards: Homeless Plan Advisory Committee and Rural Roads Operations and Maintenance Advisory Committee.
Hindley, 51, lives in Beaverton with his wife Tabitha, a registered nurse. They have two children, 20 and 26.
He earned a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership from Columbia Southern University, an online institution based in Orange Beach, Ala., and a master's in theological studies from Multnomah University. He is working on a graduate certificate in public administration from the University of Virginia.
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