She’s done it again — for the third or fourth time. Denyse McGriff, who was the first person of color appointed — and later, elected — to serve on the Oregon City Commission, on Tuesday became the city’s first Black mayor after easily outpacing her three opponents in the August 23 special election.
McGriff overwhelmingly won the four-way race to replace former Mayor Rachel Lyles Smith, who stepped down in April, collecting more than 80% of the 4,400 votes cast, according to early and unofficial results Tuesday night.
Dan Berge was a distant second, with less than 10% of the vote, while Leslie Wright Jr., who had previously been declared ineligible due to residency issues but still appeared on the ballot, and Allen Bedore split the remaining 10%.
McGriff, who has also served as interim mayor of Oregon City since Lyles Smith’s resignation, celebrated the historic victory with supporters at Oregon City Brewing Co. Tuesday night, saying she was “elated and humbled” by the results.
“History does indeed have its eyes on us,” McGriff said, as reported by the Portland Tribune. “I thank all of you and know I will do my best to continue to support our city.”
The overwhelming victory came despite an error by Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall, whose office sent incorrect voters’ pamphlets to approximately 3,800 Oregon City households.
Only McGriff was negatively impacted by the error, as her campaign had been the only one of the four to submit a statement for the pamphlet.
Her campaign had touted some of the city’s recent successes, including new parks and securing $2 million in federal funds for a railroad quiet zone, which is expected to spur residential development downtown.
McGriff’s fellow commissioners had also endorsed her for the position.
A retired city planning official in Oregon City, Tillamook and other communities, McGriff has previously served on the Oregon City Planning Commission and McLoughlin Neighborhood Association.
McGriff will serve the remaining few months of the term originally won by Dan Holladay in 2018, before he became the first mayor in Oregon City history to be successfully recalled two years later.
McGriff said she plans to run again this November to seek a full four-year term as mayor.
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