Mary Nolan
Mary Nolan campaign photo

Mary Nolan has won the District 5 race for Metro Council. As of 9:45 pm Tuesday, Nolan is leading opponent Chris Smith by about 25 percent of the vote.

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Nolan, a former Democratic majority leader in the Oregon House, told the Mercury that she saw her victory as a sign that voters wanted a Metro councilor who could "shape consensus."

"I think voters want things to happen," she said. "They want competent people... They want people who know how deliver things."

Nolan finished first among a crowded field of candidates in the May primary with 35 percent of the vote. Smith, a longtime transportation advocate who sits on the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission, came in second with 22 percent. Because neither candidate secured a majority of votes, Smith and Nolan proceeded to a runoff in the general election.

The race between Smith and Nolan was one of contrasts. While Nolan presented herself as an experienced lawmaker with a knack for effectively reaching across the aisle, Smith was the candidate who had never held elected office before.

Smith played up his track record of progressive policy positions—which included opposing an expansion of Interstate 5 in Northeast Portland, and supporting changes to Portland’s zoning to make it easier to build duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes. Nolan, meanwhile, pointed to her resume, which includes 12 years in the Oregon House of Representatives and two years as the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.

Nolan also secured the endorsement of Cameron Whitten, an activist and Black Resilience Fund co-founder who placed third in the May primary race against Nolan and Smith.

In a prepared statement, Smith said he was "extremely proud of the grassroots campaign" he ran.

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"Representative Nolan has an admirable record of successful progressive victories from her time in the legislature, and I have no doubt she will govern with the best interests of the fifth district in mind," Smith added.

When she takes office in January, Nolan will represent North, Northeast, and Northwest Portland on Metro Council, the regional government for Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties. Metro Council is responsible for governing land use in the region—which means she will have a strong influence over housing and transportation-related issues.

"I look forward to joining this Metro Council," Nolan said.