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Council president is only down by 36 votes against fellow Councilor Lisa Batey, calls city's election most 'dramatic' in a long time

Kathy Hyzy and Lisa Batey

With only 36 votes separating the two candidates, voters will probably have to wait until at least Nov. 30 for the outcome in the Milwaukie mayoral election.

On Monday, Nov. 14, Milwaukie City Councilor Lisa Batey's lead narrowed further to just 49.84% to Council President Kathy Hyzy's 49.38%. By Wednesday, Nov. 16, Batey still led, but only 49.81% to 49.41%.

The winning candidate may get less than 50% due to 70 voters writing in alternative choices.

Batey said she wasn't surprised that Hyzy was not conceding at this point.

"I'm not making any predictions, but I'm feeling optimistic," Batey said.

Election workers confirmed on Thursday, Nov. 17, that they are still counting ballots with valid postmarks, and potential ballots with signature issues that voters resolve over the next two weeks. The Clackamas County Elections Office has been behind in its vote-counting schedule during both major elections this year under the leadership of embattled Clerk Sherry Hall, who was ousted from office by voters on Nov. 8.

The latest unofficial election results, released Nov. 16, don't reflect the so-called "challenged" ballots, which means that there are at least 100 Milwaukie voters whose ballots are not currently counted, an estimate based on past elections. This coming Wednesday, Hyzy plans to get a list from the Clackamas County Election Office of the voters whose ballots were "challenged," meaning they were not counted because the voters either forgot to sign their ballots, or because their signatures were deemed not to match their signatures of record (sometimes due to name changes).

Hyzy plans to contact voters whose signatures were determined not to match in an effort to get their votes counted.

Batey, on election night, had 54%, but as additional votes were counted last week, Batey's lead continued to narrow.

"This is far more dramatic than any election Milwaukie has had in a long time," Hyzy said.

Batey is leading the race by only 36 votes in a city of more than 21,000 population.

Turnout has been high countywide, presumably due to increased interest in the gubernatorial race. In Milwaukie, city council members encouraged voters to turn out for the competitive Congressional race for the first time in over a decade.

Why does the mayoral race matter? Hyzy says that she respects her opponent and enjoys working with her on the council, but Hyzy sees herself as stronger in terms of issues of equity, transportation and housing. Batey, for her part, would prioritize the needs of current residents over what she considers loftier goals in some areas.

Stakes are high for their personal political futures, as both women are reaching the end of their first term on the city council. Whichever candidate does not win the mayoral election will have to step down from public office in January.

Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba is vacating his city position at the end of the year to run for state representative, prompting the two other City Council members to vie for the Nov. 8 vote of citizens to fill his seat.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, is the deadline for voters to resolve signature issues on their ballots, such as non-matching signatures, or voters who forgot to sign their ballots. Those votes are expected to be counted by Wednesday, Nov. 30.

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