Portland, OR

Wednesday in Portland: Voters approve overhauling Portland's government structure and more

Emily Scarvie

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(Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Wednesday, Nov. 9 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Race for Oregon governor remains too close to call after election night

As of late Tuesday night, the race for Oregon governor remained tight between the Democratic and Republican candidates. Unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson conceded earlier in the evening after falling behind the two major party candidates, receiving about 9% of the vote as of 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

This year’s governor’s race has been one of the most competitive in recent memory, with Democrats’ hold on statewide political office wavering amid a three-way race. As of 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Democrat Tina Kotek had 45.9% of the vote and Republican Christine Drazan had 44.6% of the vote. Each candidate addressed their supporters, expressing optimism that they’d ultimately prevail.

“I know it’s late, but we must respect the process,” Kotek said. “Every vote counts and every vote must be counted. It looks like we might be waiting a little while before things are official - and that’s okay, because we want to make sure that every Oregonian that turned in their ballot gets heard.”

“We knew this was going to be a close race, and it turns out it is,” Drazen said. “But we know that when the results are all counted and all of the results are in, that we will in fact lead Oregon in a new direction. But we’re not there yet.”

2. Portland voters approve overhauling the city's unique form of government

As of Wednesday morning, Portland voters have approved a ballot measure to transform the city’s commission-style government and election system. Measure 26-228 had garnered over 56% of the vote as of 7 a.m., with tens of thousands of ballots still to be counted.

“The passage of Measure 26-228 is a historic step towards a democracy that truly gives all Portlanders a seat at the decision making table and a government that meets their basic needs,” Sol Mora, a member of Portland United for Change, which championed the proposal’s passage, told The Oregonian. “This victory was powered by the people for the people.”

The measure will create a 12-member Portland City Council with three members elected for each of four large geographic districts. Candidates would be selected by voters through a ranked-choice voting system.

3. Environmental groups say Benson High School remodel violates PPS climate policy

After Portland Public Schools adopted a sweeping climate policy earlier this year, several environmental groups are raising concerns about whether the district’s actions line up with the promises it made. More than a dozen groups and individuals called for construction to be halted on Benson Polytechnic High School in a letter sent last month, after it became known that the remodel included a new natural gas heating system. PPS’s Climate Crisis Response Policy, which it adopted in March, said all construction wouldn’t include fossil fuel infrastructure.

“It was just passed in March of ’22 and within months they are in violation of the policy,” Mike Rosen, an environmental advocate and former member of the school board who signed the letter, told KGW.

Dan Jung, the district’s chief operating officer, disputed that claim, saying the design for Benson was finalized before the district adopted the climate policy. Jung said switching the school to an all-electric system now would add an additional $6-8 million to the project’s more than $300 million budget.

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