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An embattled Mayor Wheeler, pummeled by pandemic and protests, survives reelection and is rewarded with a center-left City Council.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Mayor Ted Wheeler survived the protests and pandemic to win a surprising second term in office.After months of frequently violent political protests demanding radical change, most Portland voters turned moderate in the Nov. 3 general election.

For starters, Ted Wheeler is now the first Portland mayor elected to a second term since Vera Katz. In late results, he fending off a well-organized and well-funded challenge from the left by Sarah Iannarone, who repeatedly said she stood with the protesters.

A precinct map of the results showed Wheeler winning on the west side, the central east side and the east side, with Iannarone winning everywhere else.

"It's something of a surprise that Wheeler was reelected," said DHM Research Political Director John Horvick. "The election was shaping up as a tough one for incumbents with all the problems this year. But he ran against an opponent who had a ceiling and (Wheeler) was better positioned to win when voters started comparing the two candidates."

Portland voters also replaced Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, an outspoken critic of the police, with challenger Mingus Mapps, who was endorsed by the Portland Police Association and who called himself a "bridge builder, not a bridge burner."

When Mapps joins the council along with Latino Network Executive Director Carmen Rubio in January, it be more moderate than the existing one, despite ongoing public demands to end business as usual.

And, despite the city's reputation for environmental activism, Portland voted elected pragmatist Mary Nolan to the Metro Council Position 5 seat over climate activist Chris Smith. Voters also defeated of the $5.2 billion Metro regional transportation measure that would have helped fund a new Southwest Corridor MAX line between Portland and Tualatin.

"The Metro measure was not a surprise. It never polled well. But transportation problems don't go away, so I imagine the parties will get together and start working on another measure," Horvick said.

Welcome to 2020, a year in which nothing is predictable anymore, including Portland's reputation for progressive politics. In fact, the Portland Business Association has more to cheer about than the protesters in the streets.

Those behind the nightly protests arguably misjudged what most Portlanders want. In fact, they might have provoked a backlash, especially with the ill-advised Oct. 11 vandalism of the Oregon Historical Society, which is beloved by Portland's liberal establishment.

The results were a mixed bag for Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. She sponsored the police accountability ballot measure that was overwhelmingly approved by Portland voters. But she endorsed Iannarone over Wheeler and Eudaly over Mapps. Now she will not be assigned the police bureau, as Iannarone promised, and likely will fail to win approval of the $18 million cut to the bureau budget she and Eudaly are supporting (see story, inside).

One thing remains the same, however — the willingness of Portland voters to raise taxes most of the time. Despite the defeat of Metro's measure, city and Multnomah County voters approved ballot measures raising taxes to fund school and library construction projects, city parks, and a new preschool-for-all program.

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