Steve Novick and His Portland Gas Tax Both Fighting to Survive Election Night

Novick will face a runoff in November.

Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick will likely face a November runoff in his campaign to return to his City Council seat. The fate of his proposed gas tax is also uncertain.

Novick is winning 43 percent of the vote in early returns, leading a field of nine challengers for his City Council seat. Architect Stuart Emmons is a distant second with 15 percent. He's battling affordable-housing activist Chloe Eudaly, with 12.6 percent, for the chance to face Novick in November

Novick's compromise plan for Portland road repairs—a 10-cent tax on Portland gas sales—is also locked in a tight battle, with 51.2 percent of voters supporting it and 48.7 percent opposed.

Novick combined his election-night parties this evening, watching the returns for both his reelection bid and the gas-tax ballot measure at Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen in the West End.

Novick faced a field crowded with challengers, including Eudaly, Emmons, and real-estate agent Fred Stewart. But none of them seemed to gain traction in the race—they often sounded like a critical chorus against Novick.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Amanda Fritz is cruising to a third term on City Council, with 69.1 percent of the vote.

UPDATE, 12 midnight:

By the time Novick and his throng of supporters vacated the Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen in the West End, he had not secured the 50 percent of votes needed to prevent a November runoff for his seat, and the gas tax that he shepherded onto the ballot was winning only by about 4,000 votes.

Nevertheless, Novick didn't let the results deflate him or his pastrami-nibbling throng of supporters, enlivening his addresses to the crowd with a joke about new Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Mike Myers ("I hear you have a totally excellent fire chief!") and repeating the Galaxy Quest mantra, "Never give up! Never surrender!"

"I have no problem continuing to talk to voters for the next four or five or six months," said Novick, praising candidate Chloe Eudaly for likely scoring a third place showing despite little funding.

He expressed hope they'd square off: "It'll be a nice but civil campaign between two good lefties and we'll have a lot of fun together."

He also took the opportunity to throw shade at probable second-place finisher Stuart Emmons and The Oregonian: "Stuart Emmons is the candidate of the right-wing Oregonian editorial board that doesn't believe in global warming and wants to destroy unions, doesn't care about working people."

As for the gas tax, Novick was upbeat but braced for possible defeat. "What these results show is that, win or lose, by God it was a fight worth making," Novick said.

He told the audience that the gas tax idea will live on even if it is not voted into place this election.

Willamette Week's journalism is funded, in part, by our readers. Your help supports local, independent journalism that informs, educates, and engages our community. Become a WW supporter.