Neighborhood association elections are usually sleepy affairs—unless there's a National Parks historic registry at stake.
In Eastmoreland, where the Southeast Portland neighborhood is fiercely divided over whether to become a historic district, 1,040 ballots were cast last Thursday.
The Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association estimates there are just 1,674 households in the neighborhood.
Supporters of designating the neighborhood a historic district won all nine of the open slots, according to results posted today. But Robert McCullough, formerly treasurer of the association and recognized as a leader of the historic-district campaign, lost his reelection bid.
"It looks like to me they were totally skunked," says McCullough, while also acknowledging he was disappointed not to serve again. "I think it's a fine result. In spite of spending a huge money and a vast amount of emotion they were just rejected by all asunder."
Tom Brown, a leading voice against the historic district who has sued to halt the process, said he viewed McCullough's defeat as a good omen, while also saying he was surprised by the result.
"Maybe [voters] thought those people can bring peace to the neighborhood faster," he says.
Though the city's Office of Neighborhood Involvement does not keep a tally of election results, the turnout was exceptional.
"Elections with controversy sometimes will draw hundreds of community members," says Neighborhood Program Coordinator Paul Leistner.
He cited one example. In 1997, 600 people voted in the election to split the Northwest Heights Neighborhood Association from the existing Forest Park Neighborhood Association.
Anne Dufay, who has been executive director of Southeast Uplift for seven years, said she hadn't ever seen turnout match Eastmoreland's this year.