Gresham mayor: Too close to call
The election to helm Oregon's fourth largest city has been marked by massive voter turnout and a race too close to call.
The large pool of candidates vying to become Gresham mayor have whittled down to two — Travis Stovall and Councilor Eddy Morales. Stovall jumped to an early lead with the first wave of results Tuesday night, Nov. 3, but as things have progressed the difference has shrunk hourly.
"The lead isn't as big as we would like," Stovall told supporters on election night.
As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, Stovall had 16,310 votes, or 36.79%, while Morales had 16,189 votes, or 36.51%. A total of 44,338 votes have been cast. Though neither candidate has committed to it, the narrow margin of votes separating the two could lead to a recount request.
The process automatically triggers when the difference between candidates is one-fifth of a percent, or 0.2%, according to Oregon law. Either Morales or Stovall may also ask for a recount, though that person must pay for the costs associated with the request.
Morales is becoming a veteran of neck-in-neck elections — his bid to claim a council position led to a recount in 2018 after a tight race with incumbent Kirk French. Those results took weeks to be finalized.
"The margin is narrowing. I know there are at least 10,000 votes left to be counted in the county," Morales said. "We have to wait and see."
Stovall echoed that not all the votes have been counted, and it was too soon for victory speeches. Both candidates praised voter turnout, and thanked community members for being involved in the campaigning and election process.
"I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has committed time, attention, contributions — all of those things to this campaign," Stovall said. "We have worked hard and we have dedicated a lot of time and effort to helping move Gresham together."
Morales was excited to see the historic turnout.
"My biggest goal has always been to include more people and get them participating," he said. "I enjoy watching our democratic process and how every vote gets counted."
Stovall grew up in Kansas City and moved to East Multnomah County 20 years ago, purchasing a home in Gresham in 2006. He is co-founder and CEO of eRep, a tech company. Stovall led the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce as president of the board of directors; is a board member on several organizations, including TriMet; and is former director of the East Metro Economic Alliance.
If elected, he would become the first Black mayor of a major Portland-metro city.
Stovall wants to get businesses and employees back to work as the community continues to recover from the COVID recession. He also looks to build more affordable housing across income levels, advocate for community policing and address racial inequality.
Morales is serving on the Gresham City Council after being elected in 2018. He lived in East Multnomah County while attending high school, and returned to buy a home in 2010. Morales, a small business owner, is the treasurer of the Democratic Party of Oregon, founder of East County Rising and serves on the boards of many organizations.
Morales wants to break up an insular City Hall, which he said has caused issues like the massive budget gap facing Gresham. His priorities include expanding affordable housing; boosting jobs and finding support for small business hit by COVID-19; uplifting children and families; and bolstering community parks and recreation.
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