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Mayor Denyse McGriff wins reelection, while voters throw support behind Rocky Smith, Adam Marl

PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oregon City Mayor Denyse McGriff, right, celebrates with supporters Canby Councilor Sarah Spoon and OC attorney Jesse Buss at an election night party at OC Brewing on Nov. 8.As additional Nov. 8 election ballots were counted on Nov. 9, it became abundantly clear that Oregon City Mayor Denyse McGriff won another overwhelming victory at the ballot box, while voters largely supported incumbent commissioners.

Commissioners Rocky Smith and Adam Marl maintained large leads over a pack of six commission candidates, and more than 67% of the Nov. 8 count of ballots swung in McGriff's favor.

After predicting the more well-known Smith would get the most votes, Marl surprised even himself by getting 27.5% to Smith's 26.1% according to updated results posted on Nov. 9.PMG PHOTO: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Oregon City Mayor Denyse McGriff celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Arch Bridge's construction on Oct. 1, when ODOT closed the bridge for a special event.

Marl's election made him the youngest person in Oregon City history to win the support of voters. Marl, 22, is also the first Asian American to win an OC election. His success at the polls was reflective of his support for public safety and his opposition to tolling Interstate 205.

Smith and Marl's comfortable lead against other candidates held as additional ballots were tabulated the day after the election, and the few mail-in ballots left to be counted won't make up the difference for their challengers.

Smith was among two incumbent commission members seeking to hold a seat and is the only candidate seeking reelection, since Marl was appointed in 2021 and sought to be elected by voters for the first time this year. Unofficial results on Nov. 9 showed Sandra Dee Toews with about 7%, Tom Geil with 12%, Dean Scrutton with 13% and Karla Laws with 14% with many ballots still being counted.

In 2018, Smith's opponent saw a need for providing more local homebuilding lands in a controlled manner, but Smith won the election by saying that more attention should be paid to the livability of current residents.

This year, Smith again raised the issue of livability for current citizens as part of his reelection campaign, making it clear that he is not sold on the concept of providing urban-renewal funds to developers.

Smith's reelection further dims prospects for developers who want to build over 1 million square feet of buildings on Oregon City's former landfill and say they require $30 million in public funds, or their project won't be built.

Also, a downtown business owner and art teacher at Oregon City High School, Smith has repeatedly expressed concerns about the North End project and abstained from a vote in May to allow city-staff help for the developers in pursuing grant funding. He remains concerned about how the project, if it moves forward, would fit in with urban-renewal plans that remain in flux.

Smith was among six candidates all vying for two spots on the city commission in a "top two" election format that's returning to Oregon City ballots in November for the first time since the 1970s. In May, voters approved a ballot measure to replace the election format used in elections from 1980-2020, when candidates would run for seats numbered one through four on the commission.

Now Oregon City voters vote for up to two out of the six commission candidates, and the two candidates who get the most votes will be seated for four-year terms. Every two years, Oregon City citizens will be electing two of the four commission members in this manner.

A former city planner, McGriff chaired the McLoughlin Neighborhood Association and served on the city's Planning Commission prior to being picked as a city commissioner. She continues to serve in various community board positions both in the city and regionally.

With 79.4% of the vote, McGriff easily won the Oregon City special mayoral election on Aug. 23, when there were four candidates on the ballot.

McGriff made Oregon City history a third time with her mayoral election, first with her appointment by city commissioners in March 2019 to become the first person of color to serve on the Oregon City Commission, and second by having earned the support of voters in November 2020 to serve a full four-year term as a commissioner. McGriff, who was elected to a four-year term for city commissioner in 2020, recently won a special election for the final few months of a mayoral term and obtained a full four-year term as mayor.


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