May 23, 2024 - News

🗳️ Multnomah County has a new DA

Photo illustration of Mike Schmidt and Nathan Vasquez.

Illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Courtesy of Mike for DA and Kitta Bodner

Multnomah County voters elected longtime prosecutor Nathan Vasquez as district attorney, ousting one-term incumbent Mike Schmidt, AP reported last night.

Why it matters: The move signals that many Portland-area voters are frustrated with the region's ongoing challenges including rising drug use, violent crime and public safety concerns.

By the numbers: As of last night's latest vote tally, Vasquez had 54% of the vote.

  • Turnout remained relatively low, which is common for primary elections, with voter turnout at 35% by Wednesday morning.
  • The county has until June 17 to certify the results under the postmark law.

What they're saying: "The voters have made it clear that they are ready to take our county in a new and safer direction," Vasquez said in an emailed statement to Axios.

  • "I am committed to ending open air drug dealing and drug use while helping connect individuals to treatment, to rebuilding the broken relationships between the DA's office and the community."

Schmidt conceded the race, saying in a written statement: "While we do not always see eye to eye, I am committed to a smooth transition."

Catch-up quick: Schmidt was elected in 2020 as part of a wave of progressive prosecutors, aiming to reduce incarceration and address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

The intrigue: The nonpartisan race got swept into the national spotlight after voters in several West Coast cities replaced progressive prosecutors in favor of candidates with tougher approaches to crime.

What's next: Vasquez takes office on Jan. 1.

Fun fact: The position pays more than $243,000 annually, making it one of the highest-paid roles in the county.

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