Eighteen candidates were on the ballot for City Council Position 2 to replace the late Commissioner Nick Fish. Two can advance to face each other in an August special election.
Votes counted so far are spread evenly among several candidates, but former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith appears likely to make a November runoff, with 19 percent of the votes. Dan Ryan, longtime head of the nonprofit All Hands Raised, follows behind by just 3 percentage points, with 16.6 percent of the votes.
Smith, who lost the 2018 council race to current Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty, served two terms as a Multnomah County commissioner. Before that, she worked for U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for 23 years.
Ryan is the first openly HIV-positive candidate for the council. For 11 years, he ran the equity-focused educational nonprofit All Hands Raised. He also held fundraising positions at the Oregon Ballet Theatre and Portland State University.
With most of the ballots counted in Multnomah County, Smith and Ryan are unlikely to be passed by any of the candidates trailing them.
Environmental advocate Tera Hurst, who played an extensive role in the tenuous cap-and-trade legislation, is in third place with 13.8 percent.
During Hurst's watch party over Zoom on Tuesday night, former state lawmaker and secretary of state candidate Jennifer Williamson offered her words of support.
"Is there a playlist for watching the results come in and not immediately liking the results?" Hurst asked jokingly as the results rolled in. "It's like going to your wedding and wondering if your groom is going to show up."
In order to win in the general election, a candidate must receive 50 percent plus one vote. Since no candidate yielded the majority of votes tonight, the top two will have to face each other in a runoff slated for Aug, 11 (rather than in November) because the seat is to fill a vacancy.
Three other credible candidates ran for the seat: tenant advocate Margot Black, two-term Metro Councilor Sam Chase, and environmental activist Julia DeGraw. None appeared in a position to surpass Smith or Ryan.