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Up and down the ballot, women candidates swept or fought strongly in nearly every race.

(Image is Clickable Link) On election night, vote-watchers keep tabs on the race for Multnomah County Sheriff while, in the foreground, fans of County Commissioner Sharon Meieran gather.Originally there were no women in the Oregon Legislature because they weren't allowed to run or even vote.

Oregon became a state in 1859 and the first election where they could run and vote was 1914, two years after male voters approved it. That was when Democrat Marian Towne became the first woman elected to the state House of Representatives from Jackson County. She was followed by Republican Kathryn Clarke who was the first woman elected to the state Senate from Douglas County. It still took many years for even a handful to win more seats, with momentum building in the 1960s and 1970s.

But today Oregon has the third highest percent of women legislators in the country, 44%. A majority of House seats — 31 of 60 — are held by women. Nine of the 30 Senate seats are held by women. And those numbers could increase after the Nov. 8 general election. HARDESTY

In the Senate, where 16 seats are up for election, women won the nominations of both parties in five races, and the nomination of one party in five others. In the House, where all 60 seats are up, women won the nomination of both parties in nine races, and the nomination of one party in 25 others.

Because of the problems in Clackamas County, the results of the race for regional Metro President remains unclear. However, incumbent Lynn Peterson will either win outright or will face a November runoff against challenger Alisa Pyszka.VEGA PEDERSON

"These delays are deeply frustrating. This was a problem identified well before election day, and could have been addressed through increased staffing or assistance from the secretary of state or other elections experts. Voters deserve better than these preventable mistakes and delays," Peterson said.

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has been chaired by several women over the years, and is currently led by Deborah Kafoury, who did not run in this election because she is term-limited. That race will go to November, with Commissioner Jessica Vega Pedersen facing Commissioner Sharon Meieran. Commissioner Susheela Jayapal was reelected easily to the District 2 seat. MEIERAN

Commissioner Lori Stegmann, who finished fourth in the chair race, was not up for re-election. Neither were Vega Peterson or Meieran. A special election will need to be held next year to fill the remaining term of whoever wins, meaning the commission could continue with all women, depending on who runs and wins.

For the first time in history, the Multnomah County sheriff will be a woman, current Undersheriff Nicole Morrisey O'Donnell.PETERSON

And in Portland, embattled City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty surprised some City Hall watchers by leading the race with 44% of vote in the most recent unofficial results. She will apparently still face lawyer and businessman Rene Gonzalez, who edged out administrative law judge Vadim Mozyrksy for second place, in the Nov. 8 general election.

Another woman also was elected Portland city auditor, with current Metro Principal Management Auditor Simone Rede succeeding Mary Hull Caballero, who did not run for reelection.

Even when they didn't win, women were the strongest challengers in several races. They include nonprofit leader Terri Preeg Riggsby, who came in second behind incumbent Duncan Hwang in the Metro District 6 race. And Black nonprofit leader Alanna (AJ) McCreary was the only candidate to seriously challenge incumbent Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan for reelection.

Women in Oregon public offices, 1991 and 2022:

U.S. Congress

Then: 0 of 2 in Senate, 0 of 5 in House.

Now: 0 of 2 in Senate, 1 of 5 in House.

(Oregon gains a sixth House seat this year)

State executive offices

Then: 3 of 6, including governor

Now: 4 of 5, including governor

(State schools superintendent is no longer elected)

Oregon Legislature

Then: 22 total. 8 of 30 in Senate; 14 of 60 in House.

Now: 40 total. 9 of 30 in Senate; 31 of 60 in House.

Oregon Supreme Court

Then: 1 of 7

Now: 4 of 7, including chief justice

Oregon Court of Appeals

Then: 1 of 10

Now: 7 of 13, including chief judge

(Court expanded by 3 in 2013)

Multnomah County board

Then: 3 of 5

Now: 5 of 5, including chair

Washington County board

Then: 3 of 5

Now: 3 of 5, including chair

Clackamas County board

Then: 2 of 3

Now: 3 of 5, including chair

(Board expanded to 5 in 2012)

Portland Mayor and City Council

Then: 1 of 5

Now: 2 of 5

Sources: Oregon Blue Book; Oregon Legislature and Oregon courts for updates.


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