TagMayoral elections

Wheeler, Iannarone face off in Portland, Oregon, mayoral election

Image of City Hall in Portland, Oregon.

Incumbent Ted Wheeler and Sarah Iannarone are running for mayor of Portland, Oregon on November 3. Teressa Raiford is a write-in candidate.

Nineteen candidates ran in the May 19 primary. Wheeler received 49.1%—short of the majority needed to win the election outright. Iannarone received 24%, and Raiford received 8.5%. As the top two vote-getters, Wheeler and Iannarone advanced to the general election.

Wheeler says he has led on police reform and the city’s COVID-19 response. He says the city needs continued leadership to get through these challenges. Iannarone says Wheeler hasn’t shown leadership and describes herself as the progressive alternative.

Wheeler has support from United for Portland, a group that formed in October and includes the Services Employees International Union, the Portland Business Alliance, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, and the Portland NAACP. Iannarone’s endorsers include Our Revolution and the Oregon Progressive Party.

Before being elected mayor, Wheeler served as Oregon’s Democratic state treasurer from 2010 to 2017. Iannarone is an urban policy consultant and has served on several City of Portland committees. 

The mayoral race is nonpartisan. As of October 2020, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 29 are affiliated with the Republican Party, three are independents, and five identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated. While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party. 

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Signatures submitted for mayoral recall in Oregon City, Oregon

A recall effort has been underway since June 2020 in Oregon City, Oregon, to recall Mayor Dan Holladay over restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Recall organizers had until September 21 to submit 2,400 valid signatures to put the recall election on the ballot. They submitted signatures in two batches, with the total number coming to 3,451.

City Recorder Kattie Riggs said the signature verification process would be complete by October 1. If enough signatures are verified, the recall election would likely take place on November 10. If voters remove Holladay from office, a special election would take place in March 2021 to fill the seat.

On June 22, Adam Marl, the campaign manager for the Committee to Recall Dan Holladay, issued the following statement on the recall effort: “The mayor’s dismissive responses to current events have put the spotlight on his past actions in office that have not received the scrutiny they deserve. When the citizens voiced their concerns, he deliberately limited constructive dialogue between his colleagues and constituents. Since then, issues of corrupt business dealings and multi-million dollar lawsuits have come to light, which prompted his fellow commissioners to censure him on two counts and order an independent investigation. Mayor Holladay has lost the faith of the city that he is attempting to lead, with even his fellow commissioners calling for his resignation. His refusal to resign for the good of the city has prompted this nonpartisan grassroots campaign to lead the concerted efforts of those who believe in a better future for Oregon City. We will fight with resolve, and will fight to win.”

The number of valid signatures required to force a recall election in Oregon is 15% of the total number of votes cast in the public officer’s electoral district for all candidates for governor at the last election at which a candidate for governor was elected to a full term. Signatures are required to be turned in no later than 90 days after the petition is filed.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

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Judge allows recall election to move forward in Stevensville, Montana

A Ravalli County District Court judge has ruled that there are sufficient grounds for a recall election to move forward against Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey. Judge Howard Recht’s ruling on August 14 said that Dewey “acted outside the law and without legal authority” when he signed a $79,800 contract with First Call Computer Solutions on behalf of the town. In June, Dewey filed a lawsuit with the district court, arguing that the recall shouldn’t have been approved for circulation. Dewey’s position was that the recall petitions misrepresented the situation surrounding the recall effort.

The recall effort is organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh. Petitions accused Dewey of violating his oath of office because contracts of the size of the First Call contract would normally require approval from the town council. Rodabaugh said that the way the contract was signed bypassed the competitive bid and contract award process.

Petitions were approved for circulation on April 7, giving petitioners until July 6 to submit 251 valid signatures in order to put the recall election on the ballot. Petitions were accepted by Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg on May 22, and 254 signatures were found valid. The recall election is scheduled to take place by mail-in ballots on November 3, 2020.

Dewey responded to the recall effort and said, “If you strictly took state law and municipal ordinance, I think, yes, a case could be made that there was some impropriety. But that’s only true if you completely ignore the purchasing policy which the council adopted a number of years ago and has reviewed on a regular basis since delegating this authority to department heads and the mayor.”

Dewey sent a letter to Plettenberg after the signatures were verified. He wrote that the recall petition is “invalid and should be rejected on the basis of unsworn falsification and tampering with public records or information. These facts presented in the meeting by City Attorney Scott Owens conclude that there was no merit to the allegations brought forth, now presented in the recall petition, and that no illegal action had been taken by the mayor or administration. Ms. Rodabaugh was aware of these facts when submitting the petition and further omitted the authority given to the Mayor in the purchasing policy from the language in the petition she submitted. Therefore, she has knowingly submitted false allegations and information in the recall petition.”

Dewey provided a written statement that will be included on the recall election ballot:

“The Mayor did not violate Montana Law, Stevensville Code, or his oath in authorizing the purchase of IT services needed for the Town. The Town’s Attorney investigated and determined that all purchasing activities were done legally and compliant with laws.

“Montana law has a process for bidding when dealing with “other than professional, technical, engineering, or legal services.” This process does not apply to IT services. According to MCA 7 5-4301 contracts for professional, technical, engineering, or legal services are excluded from certain provisions.

“The Council adopted a Purchasing Policy in 2014 to delegate authority to departments and the Mayor for purchases in varying dollar amounts. Though this policy, the Council puts trust in the Mayor to spend within the budget without direct oversight.

“The purchasing policy states that for other professional services, including non-construction services totaling between $1,501 – $25,000 per agreement, purchases contained in the current fiscal year budget …, Departiment Supervisor’s need only get confirmation by the Mayor prior to purchasing.

“With Council’s approval in the 2019-2020 Budget, the services totaling less than $25,000 in FY2019-2020 was consented to by the Town Council. The Council had authorized several payments to the vendor after the Mayor authorized the purchase.”

In a town council meeting after the contract was signed, Stevensville Town Attorney Scott Owens stated that Dewey did nothing illegal because, while an agreement had been signed by the mayor for an amount of money that usually would require council approval, the money had been included in the budget that the council approved and was only being paid out incrementally. Owens said that Dewey’s actions were close to illegality but did not cross the line.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.



Esteban Bovo Jr. and Daniella Levine Cava advance to general election in Miami-Dade mayoral race

Esteban Bovo Jr. and Daniella Levine Cava were the top-two finishers in the nonpartisan primary for Miami-Dade County Mayor on August 18. As of 9:45 p.m. Eastern Time on election night, Bovo and Cava had received 30% and 29% of the vote, respectively, with 92% of precincts reporting. Because neither candidate received 50% of the vote, they will advance to the general election in November.

Although the mayoral race is nonpartisan, Bovo is a member of the Republican Party and Cava is a member of the Democratic Party. Incumbent Carlos Gimenez, who was first elected in 2011, is running as a Republican to challenge Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) rather than seeking re-election, leaving the seat open.


Policing issues in the most recent Minneapolis and Chicago mayoral races

Two recently elected mayors of major midwestern metropolises are facing similar challenges in reaction to the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by city police last month. Like many big American cities, large demonstrations have occurred in both Minneapolis and Chicago to protest both the death of Floyd specifically and the behavior of police in general. 

Ballotpedia’s coverage of the recent mayoral elections in Minneapolis (2017) and Chicago (2019) reveal policing policy was an important issue for candidates in both races, and in particular, the two new mayors elected: Jacob Frey in Minneapolis and Lori Lightfoot in Chicago.

Here’s a look at the campaign issues in the most recent mayoral elections in Minneapolis and Chicago.

Minneapolis 2017

In the 2017 Minneapolis race, Frey (then a city councilman) defeated incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges and 13 other candidates after securing a majority on the fifth round of tabulations in the city’s ranked-choice voting system. “Policing and public safety were top issues,” of the race because of several high-profile officer-involved shootings in the city proper and surrounding suburbs. This included the July 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile by police in nearby St. Anthony, the November 2015 shooting of Jamar Clark by Minneapolis police after they mistakenly believed he had assaulted a girlfriend, and the July 2017 shooting of Justine Damond by a Minneapolis officer after Damond called police to report a potential sexual assault.

The shooting of Damond occurred one month before candidates filed to run for mayor and helped elevate Minneapolis’ policing culture and Hodges’ policing policies to major issues during the campaign. 

Police body-worn cameras were one subject of debate in the campaign. Following her 2013 election, Mayor Hodges had implemented a camera system. But, while the officers responding to Justine Damond’s call had been wearing body cameras, neither of them had their cameras switched on when the shooting occurred.

After the Damond shooting, Hodges requested and received the resignation of Police Chief Janeé Harteau. Hodges nominated then-Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo to become the city’s first African American police chief. Whether or not to ratify Hodges’ judgment by keeping Arradondo in the position was also a campaign issue. 

Another issue was Hodges’ handling of the Jamar Clark shooting, which prompted criticism from different directions. 

The police union chief said Hodges and then-Police Chief Harteau did not support the officers involved in the Clark shooting: “Someone has to stand up for the officer.” 

But some believed Hodges had been too lenient. The local NAACP president, Nekima Levy-Pounds, led protests over the city’s handling of the Clark shooting, stating that, “Everybody who stood with Mayor Hodges is not part of the solution. They’re part of the problem!” Levy-Pounds was one of 14 candidates who ran against Hodges for mayor in 2017. 

The five most successful candidates in the opening round of Minneapolis’s ranked-choice voting system, and the policing policies they campaigned on, were as follows:

  • Jacob Frey (D), the eventual winner, advocated improving the training and mental screening of officers and strengthening body camera requirements. Frey did not commit to retaining Arradondo as police chief but did so after winning the election. (Arradondo is the current police chief navigating the controversy and criticism of his department over the death of George Floyd).
  • State Rep. Raymond Dehn (D) proposed partial defunding of the city’s police, the “full-scale demilitarization of the Minneapolis Police Department,” and the “rethinking whether every officer needs to always carry a gun.” Dehn also did not commit to whether he would retain Arradondo as the police chief.
  • Incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges (D) ran on her record of policing issues which she said included implementing police body cameras, enhancing bias training of officers, improving the tracking of complaints against police, and increasing diversity on the force.
  • Candidate Tom Hoch (D), a non-profit executive, proposed a “top to bottom review” of the police department that included giving subpoena power to civilian review panels, and changing officer licensing standards to include “a more detailed and transparent tracking system for all infractions, including information on plea agreements.” His police agenda also included several general statements such as the “adoption of best practices in law enforcement.” Hoch also did not commit to retaining the police chief.
  • Nekima Levy-Pounds (D) advocated improvement in community-police relations, reducing racial profiling, and reducing recidivism by improving prisoner reentry programs. She supported retaining the new police chief, Arradondo, saying he had “earned the trust of a great number of people who typically do not trust police.”

Chicago 2019

Crime and policing in Chicago influenced the 2019 mayoral race in two ways. 

First, the city endured a spike in violent crime during the final years of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration with 762 murders occurring in 2016, the largest number of homicides in nearly 20 years. As part of his response, Emanuel launched a plan to add 1,000 officers to the police department. (Emanuel announced in September 2018 that he would not seek re-election).

Second, beginning in December 2015 the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) began an investigation of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) that resulted in a 2017 report stating officers had engaged “in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, that is unreasonable.” This report recommended the city agree to a consent decree—a plan supervised by a federal judge. The decree began in March 2019, during Emanuel’s final months in office.  

The nonpartisan general election for mayor on February 26, 2019, included 14 candidates. The top two vote-getters advanced to a runoff election: Lori Lightfoot (D), a recent president of the Chicago Police Board and co-chair of the city’s Police Accountability Task Force, received 17.5 percent of the initial vote; and Toni Preckwinkle (D), president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, received 16 percent. In the April 2, 2019, runoff election between the two women, Lightfoot won with 73.7 percent.

The two top candidates had similar platforms on policing issues. 

Both touted the necessity of the consent decree, their eagerness to implement it, and each claimed to have superior professional experience for getting that job done:

  • Lightfoot’s campaign said her work as president of the Chicago Police Board was “the underpinning of the Obama-era Department of Justice report and the consent decree, which will be the basis for police reform and accountability.”
  • Preckwinkle pledged to make sure the CPD “fully complies with the mandates of the consent decree” and predicted it would bring about “better supervision and more appropriate, consistent training, both of which are necessary to create effective, constitutional policing.”

Each of their platforms implied a recognition of the need for police:

  • Preckwinkle said she wanted the police department to become the “most effective police department in the country, by improving training, supervision, promotion, collaboration and crime-solving capacity within the department and demanding real improvement in homicide clearance and overall crime reduction.” 
  • Lightfoot also pledged to improve the homicide clearance rate, and to address illegal gun possession and violence through “a proactive, coordinated response led by federal law enforcement officials, strengthening state and federal gun laws, creating a centralized department within CPD responsible for tracking illegal guns throughout the city, and strategically deploying police cameras in neighborhoods.”

The Ballotpedia account provides no evidence that either candidate opposed Emanuel’s effort to hire 1,000 additional officers, or that they proposed reducing the number of officers or police department funding.

Ballotpedia is providing coverage of every major mayoral election occurring during the 2020 election, as well as all other major federal and state races. Click the “learn more” button for more information on 2020 mayoral elections.



Voters decide municipal and school board races in Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia

Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia, held nonpartisan general elections for municipal and school board offices on May 19, 2020.

Candidates ran in elections for the following offices:

Mayor of Chesapeake
• Incumbent Richard West defeated Lenard Myers, Steffanie Aubuchon, and Palmer Smith.

Chesapeake City Council
• Don Carey III and incumbents S.Z. Ritter and Robert Ike won at-large seats on the nine-member council.

Chesapeake School Board
• Angie Swygert and incumbents Samuel Boone, Victoria Proffitt, and Tom Mercer won at-large seats on the nine-member school board.

Mayor of Norfolk
• Incumbent Kenny Alexander ran unopposed.

Norfolk City Council
• Incumbents Andria McClellan and Angelia Williams Graves won re-election to their city council seats in Superwards 6 and 7, respectively. Both ran unopposed.

Norfolk School Board
• Incumbents Noelle Gabriel and Rodney Jordan won re-election to the school board in Superwards 6 and 7, respectively.

Norfolk and Chesapeake are the second- and third-most populous cities in Virginia and the 80th- and 90th-most populous in the U.S.

Together, the Norfolk and Chesapeake school districts served a total of 71,422 students during the 2017-2018 school year.

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