Loretta Smith Headed To Runoff To Replace Portland Commissioner Nick Fish

By Lauren Dake (OPB)
Portland, Ore. May 20, 2020 4:45 a.m.

UPDATE (Wednesday, May 20, 7:02 a.m.) — The field of 18 candidates vying to fill the remainder of Nick Fish's term was narrowed on Tuesday night: Former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith appears headed toward an August runoff but the race was too tight as of Wednesday morning to say with certainty who her opponent will be.

As of 4:35 a.m. Wednesday, Smith had captured 18.84% of the vote. Trailing her were Dan Ryan with 16.76% of the vote and Tera Hurst, who captured 14.51%.


Smith will face either Ryan or Hurst in an Aug. 11 runoff.

Fish, who served under four Portland mayors, died of stomach cancer in January, one day after stepping down from office. He was considered an empathetic, consensus-building public servant.


The field of candidates hoping to replace Fish was a weighty one. It included: Metro Councilor Sam Chase; Margot Black, a well-known advocate for tenant rights; Julia DeGraw, an environmental and social justice organizer; and Cynthia Castro, a policy adviser for Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Overall, the leading contenders agree on some of the progressive approaches they believe the city of Portland needs to pursue and the urgency now required in the midst of the pandemic. Like Fish, Smith, Ryan and Hurst all spoke of the importance of keeping people in affordable housing and protecting vulnerable populations in the midst of the pandemic will be key.

Smith worked for Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden for more than two decades. She served on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners starting in 2010 and served until she was forced to leave her position due to term limits at the end of 2018. She also ran for City Council in 2018, but lost to Jo Ann Hardesty.

Ryan oversaw the educational nonprofit All Hands Raised for 11 years and is a former Portland Public School Board member. He is also the a Portland native and the first openly HIV-positive candidate for Council.

Hurst, who was trailing closely behind Ryan on Tuesday night, served as a chief of staff to former Mayor Charlie Hales. Hurst now leads Renew Oregon, an environmental nonprofit that pushed the cap-and-trade legislation in Salem recently.

The winner of the August runoff would serve the remainder of Fish's term, facing reelection again in 2022.