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       As the first election results were released Tuesday evening, Steve Callaway found himself somewhat surprised by what he saw.


Shocked not only by his apparent victory in the Hillsboro mayor's race over challenger Aron Carleson, but also at the large voter turnout.

According to the Washington County Elections Office, Callaway received 58 percent of the 32,000 votes tallied as of the Tribune's press deadline, a 17 point win over challenger Aron Carleson, who had 41 percent of the vote.

"I felt it could have gone either way going into last night," Callaway told the Tribune Wednesday morning. "I was definitely surprised by the margin."

Celebrating his projected victory downtown at McNally's Taproom with roughly 40 supporters Tuesday night, Callaway spoke of faith as the results began coming in — faith in the city's residents, faith that the future is bright, and faith that together, the city will continue to thrive.

"I'm humbled by the support and grateful for the opportunity to serve as mayor," Callaway said. "As hard as I worked to earn this position, I will work even harder to justify (city residents') votes and trust for all of Hillsboro."

A retired principal and administrator in the Hillsboro School District, Callaway has served on the Council since 2010. He will replace current Mayor Jerry Willey, who is term limited, having served as mayor since 2009.

Tuesday's elections reflected roughly 10,000 more votes than what was cast in Willey's uncontested 2012 campaign, and also saw the first contested mayor race in 16 years.

It was a race many expected to be close.

"There were two strong candidates and things to like about both of us," Callaway said, noting the positive qualities that he and Carleson share. "We both worked hard to connect with voters … and that thousands more people were engaged (compared to previous mayoral races) shows they care, and that they weighed their options carefully and thoughtfully."

Carleson and Callaway were, by and large, notably similar in their mayoral goals. With few dividing lines, voters were given a difficult task in choosing between two candidates with similar backgrounds.

Among their similarities, Carleson too served as Council president for years before she was term limited in 2015, and is heavily involved in education as the current director of the Hillsboro Schools Foundation, a nonprofit group that raises funds for the Hillsboro School District.

Both candidates said that the city's growth is a challenge that needs to be faced over the next several years — with the South Hillsboro community project a major point of consideration. The huge southern development is expected to add an additional 20,000 residents over the next several years.

The candidates also had similar ideas to move Hillsboro forward, specifically championing the need for more affordable housing.

As mayor, Callaway said he'd like to expand outreach to minority residents as well, and applauded the outreach efforts candidates in the mayoral and city council races made toward the city's Latino residents, which make up about 23 percent of Hillsboro's population.

Callaway also said he'd like to make the city more transparent, and has said that he wants the city to look at the subsidies that it gives to local companies that reside within the city.

Though disappointed with the result, Carleson was equally happy with the number of voters who participated in the election.

"It showed a much larger turnout than we anticipated — which is a good thing for Hillsboro," said Carleson, who watched the results come in with supporters at Coyote's Bar & Grill in central Hillsboro. "It shows that more people care about what happens in Hillsboro, and I hope we have increased awareness about city government … But we're ready to move forward with whatever Hillsboro's future holds."

Wednesday, Callaway said focusing on the Hank's Thriftway block downtown will be his initial priority as mayor, followed by a renewal of a five-year local option levy for police, fire, and parks that is entering its fourth year in 2017. Additionally, he would like to determine whether the state's $1.4 billion deficit will have any ripple effect on the city.

"I have only one wish," Callaway told supporters on Tuesday night as election results came through, "and that is that all the people I've met could meet each other. We are an amazing community. It has been a privilege to work for your support."

Callaway will be sworn into office in January.




By Travis Loose
Reporter, Hillsboro Tribune
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