Post Primary: Some surprises

The highest profile N/NE Portland Multnomah County Commission race in years is entering a new phase as Shannon Singleton and Sam Adams enter a two-person runoff in the November 5th General Election.

Singleton garnered 46% of the vote, ahead of Adams with 24% and Jessie Burke at 22% in the May 21st Primary Election. Singleton, former chief of city/county Joint Office of Homeless Services, told supporters on election night that her top priorities would be housing, homelessness and behavioral health care. 

Shannon Singleton, Multnomah County Commission, District 2 candidate
Shannon Singleton, Multnomah County Commission, District 2 candidate

Singleton easily won  in neighborhoods east of I-5, while Adams and Burke fared slightly better in North Portland. The low voter turnout surprised many observers. Most presidential-year primary elections draw more than 50% turnout, but only 36% of Multnomah County voters participated this year. Turnout for the Biden-Trump presidential race in 2020 soared to 79% in Oregon. Indications are similarly high for a massive vote in the November 2024 General Election.

Singleton was not able to respond in time to requests for post-election comment before press deadline. Adams spoke with the North Peninsula Review and characterized the electorate as “tired of vague excuses for why Multnomah County government dithers in dysfunction.” 

Adams said that in the General Election campaign, “I want to raise peoples’ low expectations for Multnomah County government. North Portland especially takes more than its fair share of the problems we face county wide.”

Sam Adams, Multnomah County Commission, District 2 candidate
Sam Adams, Multnomah County Commission, District 2 candidate

Adams and Burke took similar stances on issues and may have competed for the same voters. That could be significant because in order for Adams to catch Singleton in November, he will need all the Burke voters he can get. Burke’s election night concession hinted she might be sympathetic to Adams, as she called for Multnomah County reforms much closer to Adams’ positions.

“My hope is the remaining candidates understand the dysfunction within the (Multnomah) County,” she said. Burke called for the next N/NE Portland county commissioner to increase funding for sobering centers, law enforcement and Portland Street Response, and drastically increase the number  of walk-in shelters.

DA and congressional races

Burke was also campaign manager for Nathan Vasquez, who defeated incumbent District Attorney Mike Schmidt in a bare-knuckled race. Both Schmidt and Vasquez spent more than $1 million that financed aggressive negative ads against their opponent. Vasquez received endorsement from law enforcement organizations and heavy funding from downtown business groups who claimed that Schmidt’s policies had contributed to sprees of burglaries and criminal vandalism. 

Some St. Johns-area business owners seemed to feel similarly. Many booed and jeered Schmidt during a St. Johns town hall at The Fixin’ To nightclub last year. Schmidt’s supporters countered that the culprits behind the crime increase are the Fentanyl epidemic and failure of Ballot Measure 110 to fund treatment. Schmidt received many small contributions, yet also more than $200,000 from a national group linked to financier George Soros, and $133,540 from former N/NE Portland state senator Chip Shields.

The battle to win the Democratic Party nomination to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer rivaled the Vasquez-Schmidt race in heat and hot words. State Rep. Maxine Dexter defeated Susheela Jayapal, former N/NE Portland county commissioner, 46% to 34%. Jayapal came close to winning North Portland precincts, but badly lost in the rest of the district east of the Willamette River. Dexter is the odds-on favorite to win the November General Election as the Democratic nominee. No Republican has represented Portland in Congress since 1954.