Updated: 11:15 a.m. May 17
Julia Brim-Edwards will be the next Multnomah County commissioner, after nabbing 58% of votes in the May 16 special district election. Results are still unofficial, but election offices continue to update vote tallies and Multnomah County confirmed Brim-Edwards' win Wednesday morning.
Brim-Edwards will represent Southeast and East Portland in District 3 through the end of 2024, filling the remainder of Jessica Vega Pederson’s unexpired term on the county's Board of Commissioners. Vega Pederson vacated her District 3 seat after being elected county chair in November 2022.
Brim-Edwards, the former Nike executive and current Portland Public Schools board member who now runs a consulting firm, faced Ana del Rocío, a former teacher, school board member, and county staffer, who netted 34% of votes. Albert Kaufman, a marketing professional who ran a modest campaign, drew less than 7% of the vote.
During her campaign, Brim-Edwards told the Mercury she'll prioritize homelessness, gun violence, addiction and mental health treatment, and push for greater financial oversight and accountability within the county. She said she'd push for more investments in the District Attorney's Office, to allow for more prosecutions of drug dealers and violent crimes, while also aiming to bolster law enforcement staffing, to improve police response times.
She also wants to see an end to street camping.
"The County has more than 5,000 homeless people living on the streets without access to shelter or basic services or a path to permanent affordable housing," Brim-Edwards said earlier this month. "The County and City need to end street camping humanely with more shelter and housing options, helping people transition off the streets safely to shelters or transitional housing with basic services and to provide a path to permanent, affordable housing."
Brim-Edward said previously that she will retain her seat on the school board if she wins the county commissioner race.
In Tuesday’s special district election, Portland voters also decided school board races and local tax measures.
In the race for the Portland Public Schools board, Patte Sullivan secured a win with 55.5% of the vote, according to unofficial results. Sullivan's opponent, Derrick Peterson, withdrew from the race less than two weeks before the election, but still managed to snag more than 40% of votes. Prior to pulling out of the race, Peterson was the favored candidate, securing key endorsements and campaign contributions.
Four seats were up for election, but only one–Zone 3–was contested. In what is normally an unremarkable school board election, the race became muddied when Peterson announced he had withdrawn from the race, following unfavorable media coverage. A few days later, he told a current board member that he would retain his seat on the board, if elected, and removed the public statement from his website about dropping out of the race. Last week, Peterson confirmed his decision to withdraw, but his name still appeared on ballots.
Andrew Scott and Michelle DePass will retain their seats on the school board, with nobody running against them, while newcomer Eddie Wang will join the board for his first term. Wang will replace Eilidh Lowery, who didn't run for reelection. Before the election, Lowery said she knew she couldn’t serve a second term, and backed Wang.
Measure 26-238, a proposed eviction defense measure, did not pass. It failed by nearly 82%. The measure proposed a new, adjustable rate capital gains tax to fund legal representation for renters facing eviction.
"Obviously, the early results coming in are not what we were hoping for," Colleen Carroll, an organizer with the Eviction Representation for All campaign, told the Mercury Tuesday evening. "Our campaign will continue to push and make sure that this program is implemented as soon as possible. We look forward to working for and alongside Multnomah County residents, especially renters, who have been largely left out of the conversation thus far."
Opponents of the measure said it would have posed heavy tax burdens on vulnerable populations, because it failed to include income thresholds for low and fixed-income residents, and failed to include exemptions that state and federal capital gains taxes allow for.
“Voters tonight have protected local families, seniors, and small business owners by rejecting this tax measure, which had no limits and no safeguards,” Lance Randall, executive director of the Black Business Association of Oregon, said in an election night news release. “This tax would have been an unfair burden on small business owners, particularly Black, Asian and other BIPOC business owners, in an already-challenging economic environment. Let's continue to work together to build a stronger, more equitable economy for all members of our community.”
Measure 26-240, the Portland Children’s Levy, was approved by voters, who were asked to renew the property tax measure at 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to fund services like after school programs, foster care programs, anti-hunger aid and similar assistance for Portland youth. The measure passed with 69% approval by Wednesday.
Four incumbents will retain their seats on the Multnomah Education Service District. Renee Anderson, Denyse Peterson, and Katrina Doughty each pulled off landslide wins against challengers Walt Karnstein, Michael Saperstein and Anna Oppenheimer. Samuel Henry secured a smaller margin over opponent John Masterman, winning 54.5% of votes. The MESD board, which provides educational services like school nurses, special education and outdoor school to school districts in Multnomah County, will also see the addition of its youngest-ever board member. Danny Cage, a Portland high schooler, secured a win with no challengers.
County data showed low voter turnout—roughly 23% of registered voters returned ballots—during the special district election.