Dan Ryan and Loretta Smith on the August 11 special election ballot.
Dan Ryan and Loretta Smith on the August 11 special election ballot. Multnomah County Elections

UPDATED: August 12, 9 am —

Portland voters have elected political newcomer Dan Ryan to serve as their newest city commissioner. Ryan had collected 51 percent of the vote Wednesday morning, with 98 percent of ballots counted, leading competitor Loretta Smith by 5,449 votes.

ORIGINAL STORY: August 11, 11:30 pm —

Early election results show former nonprofit director Dan Ryan with a slight lead over Loretta Smith for Portland City Council position 2.

As of 11:30 pm, political newcomer Ryan held a 2 percent lead over Smith, a former Multnomah County Commissioner, with 50.87 percent of the vote.

The victor of Tuesday's race will fill the council seat vacated by City Commissioner Nick Fish, who passed away on January 2. Portland City Council has operated without a fifth commissioner since his death. The winning candidate will finish out the rest of Fish’s term, set to end in December 2022.

Smith served two terms as a county commissioner representing North Portland, where she championed a youth jobs program and helped establish the Soul District Business Association. This isn't Smith's first run for Portland City Council—Smith lost to City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in the 2018 race for outgoing City Commissioner Dan Saltzman's seat. If elected, Smith will be the second Black woman to be elected to Portland City Council.

Ryan, who snagged Hardesty's endorsement, recently served as the director of education nonprofit All Hands Raised. During his 11 year tenure, Ryan focused on expanding educational resources to communities of color and those in school districts with few resources. Prior to his nonprofit work, Ryan worked in fundraising for Portland State University and Oregon Ballet Theatre. If elected, Ryan will be the first gay man on Portland City Council since 2012.

According to Multnomah County's elections office, the single-race special election has drawn participation from only 34 percent of all registered voters living within Portland city limits.

The election's winner is expected to be sworn into office in September. As of 11:30 pm, the race was too close for the Mercury to call.