The close race for Gresham City Council Position 2 between Eddy Morales and incumbent Kirk French has come down to the wire, triggering a recount that got underway Thursday morning, Nov. 29.
It's likely that Morales will emerge victorious, though official results are not expected until later Thursday or early Friday, Nov. 30.
In the most recent Multnomah County election results, Morales led French by 58 votes, which triggered an automatic recount. Morales has 15,368 votes, or 49.9 percent, while French garnered 15,310 votes, or 49.7 percent.
Though the recount continues, it did not stop Morales from declaring victory this week.
"I am honored and humbled to have earned the support of the majority of Gresham voters in this very close election," Morales said in a statement. "I want to thank everyone who put their faith and trust in me, and I'd like to give a special shout-out to the dedicated volunteers and staff who spent countless hours working on the campaign."
Early in the race it was far from a sure thing for Morales, as the initial results from the Tuesday, Nov. 6, Oregon General Election showed French ahead.
As more votes were tallied, the gap closed, necessitating a ballot recount. The by-hand recount began at 8 a.m. Thursday with officials going through all 38,423 ballots cast in the race.
Morales, 38, said he entered the race after a conversation he had with a librarian struggling to make ends meet. A spike in rent, which is something many across the city of Gresham are struggling with, forced the librarian out of her home for three months, as she was unprepared for the new expense.
Morales said he's familiar with the financial stress. He grew up with a single mother, bouncing between homes across the region. He dropped out of high school after the trauma of his brother being murdered, and didn't know what his future held. But support from his peers and loved ones back then helped him get back on his feet and on a positive path.
French moved to Gresham in 2007 and was elected to a four-year term on the City Council in 2014 after previously filling a vacancy in the seat for a year. He was selected by his fellow councilors to serve as council president, which will continue through the remainder of his term.
Now retired, French worked his way up to eventually serve as president of Burns Brothers Inc., which operates truck stops in the region. He later worked as the district manager of Travel Centers of America.
Morales runs a public relations firm and is active with political groups and volunteer organizations. He is on the National Gay and Lesbian task Force and wants to support the community and make a positive change for social justice. He is the treasurer of the Democratic Party of Oregon and lived in Washington, D.C., for 13 years, where he was the president of the U.S. Student Association and active in congressional and state elections.
Morales bought a home in Gresham in 2010 and has lived in the city full-time for the past six years.
Unless the recount changes the outcome, he will take his seat in January 2019.