Gresham votes for public safety
As the dust settled on election night Gresham voters made their feelings on a key issue clear.
The majority of candidates who ran on pro-public safety platforms, with an emphasis on increased funding for Gresham Police and Gresham Fire, won seats on City Council. Incumbent Janine Gladfelter (Position 6) and challenger Jerry Hinton (Position 4) were both elected, while incumbent Council President Eddy Morales holds a thousand vote lead over challenger Cathy Keathley.
Gresham Mayor Travis Stovall, who ran unopposed, will serve his second term at the helm.
Gladfelter has been one of the strongest voices on Gresham City Council when it comes to backing the police department since first joining in 2018. She was able to stave off Gresham-Barlow School Board member Amanda Orozco-Beach with 57% of the vote.
For Hinton his 59% of the vote over incumbent Mario Palmero meant a return to elected office after he lost his seat just before the pandemic. He wasn't stewing much on election night, instead choosing to volunteer at his church. As updates trickled in, he only periodically checked his phone, instead focusing on dinner with his family.
"Grateful for our democracy and everyone who voted, and appreciative of Mario Palmero — I worked with him a long time and he is a great guy," Hinton said, who served eight years on council from 2012-20. "I wish him the best."
The closest council bout is still weeks away from being certified, a process Morales is all too familiar with. Initial returns Tuesday night, Nov. 8, had Keathley leading with a slim margin. But as votes continued to be counted overnight, the incumbent pulled ahead.
"I usher in a lot of change in our city, and have the most competitive elections," Morales said last week. "I feel confident the votes will continue in this manner, but I'm not claiming victory yet. It is important that every vote is counted, every person gets that validation, before races are called."
If that final tally falls within 0.2%, an automatic recount will be triggered by the Multnomah County Elections Department. A candidate may also request, and pay, for a recount.
Morales' 2018 bid for City Council, as well as his 2020 run at mayor, both resulted in recounts and weeks of waiting for the results to be certified. He claimed his seat on council by less than 60 votes, and fell short to Mayor Travis Stovall by 13 votes.
"I was down early, but I know this process well and that the vote counts rarely stay the same," said Morales, who spent the evening bouncing around different election parties to support his friends and fellow candidates.
Many of the candidates who ran in Gresham praised the voter turnout, which they said was impressive during a non-Presidential year. The inspired community caused a few headaches for last-minute voters. There was a traffic jam of about 100 cars from 2 p.m. up until the deadline along Miller Avenue in downtown Gresham as folks queued to drop off their ballot at the Gresham Library.
"Every single vote counts, especially in Gresham," Keathley said, who hosted an election night party a few blocks away at Barley Sprout Pizza in downtown. "I'm thrilled what this might be in terms of a historic turnout."
"That is the beauty of democracy — every voice matters," Morales said.
East County stays blue
Both democratic incumbents won — albeit narrowly — in the hunt for second terms in Salem.
Rep. Ricki Ruiz, D-Gresham, serving House District 50, and Rep. Zach Hudson, D-Troutdale, serving House District 49 had the pole positions from the get-go to lead East Multnomah County.
Ruiz, who is one of the youngest legislators in Oregon and welcomed a baby to his family this year, bested challenger Amelia Salvador with 52% of the vote in what was a rematch race after the two similarly faced off in 2020.
Meanwhile Hudson reclaimed his seat with 52% of the vote, topping challenger Randy Lauer, mayor of Troutdale. Hudson has worked nearly two decades as a teacher at the Oregon Trail, Reynolds, Corbett and Gresham-Barlow School Districts, as well as Mt. Hood Community College. Both he and Lauer got their starts on Troutdale City Council, serving alongside one another from 2017-2020.
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