Mayoral candidates Chane Griggs, left, and Chris Hoy, right (Photos by Laura Tesler/Special to Salem Reporter)

This story was updated Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. with the latest ballot counts.

Salem City Council President Chris Hoy is leading in the race to become the city’s next mayor in the most hotly contested race Salem has seen in years.

Results released Tuesday night had Hoy, 56, ahead with 9,034 votes to opponent Chane Griggs’ 7,173. Griggs, 67, is the chair of the city’s planning commission and retired assistant director of the Oregon Department of Corrections.

Early tallies also showed city council candidates Dynee Medlock in ward 4, Julie Hoy in ward 6 and Micki Varney in ward 8 ahead in their races.

A substantial number of votes remain to be counted in both Marion and Polk counties. Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess said as of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than 56,000 ballots had been sorted and had signatures verified, but just 20,473 were tallied for the initial 8 p.m. count.

Marion County will post updated ballot return counts around 10 p.m. Burgess said.

Election workers in Polk County did not have an estimate of how many ballots remained to be counted. Polk County will not post additional tallies until Wednesday evening.

The mayoral race to succeed Chuck Bennett, who is retiring at the end of his third term, drew tens of thousands of dollars in contributions.

Griggs drew major financial support from real estate and business groups as well as the city’s police and firefighter unions.

Hoy, was backed by unions representing many state and most other city employees, as well as fellow progressive Democrats on the city council.

As of Tuesday, Hoy raised $43,308 in cash and $7,641 in in-kind contributions and spent $23,346, according to state campaign finance records.

Griggs raised $130,610 in cash and $1,842 in-kind and spent $109,409.

Hoy throughout his campaign touted his experience as a city councilor, first elected in 2017, and his year serving as a state representative after being appointed in December to finish out Rep. Brian Clem’s term.

He worked to convince voters that Salem is making meaningful progress in addressing its homelessness crisis after years of the city taking little to no action in that regard. But solutions take time to bear fruit, he said.

Hoy did not claim victory Tuesday night but said he was excited by the numbers.

“We’re just very pleased with the numbers so far and we’ll just keep watching and see where they go,” he said.

He attributed his success to “people power,” saying despite being out-fundraised he was able to mobilize people to knock on doors and volunteer for his campaign.

Griggs said Tuesday night with so many votes remaining to be counted it was “a little early to get too excited” about calling the race.

“At the end of the day it’s going to be what the voters decide who they want to be their mayor and I’ll be supportive of that choice,” she said.

In city council races, Medlock, a network specialist, had 1,148 votes to real estate broker Deanna Gwyn’s 1,120 in the ward 4 race. The two women are running for the seat currently held by city Councilor Jackie Leung, who was running for an Oregon House seat before suspending her campaign in April because of a personal health issue.

Julie Hoy, a singer and the owner of Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant, had 522 votes in the ward 6 race over Stacey Vieyra-Braendle, an occupational therapist, who had 399 votes. That seat is currently held by Chris Hoy (no relation to Julie Hoy).

For west Salem’s ward 8, salmon biologist Micki Varney was leading IT business owner Chris Cummings with 2,146 votes to 1,981.

Varney was appointed to the council March 21 after Councilor Jim Lewis resigned to spend more time with his family. Cummings also applied to replace him.

View the city results below.

CITY OF SALEM

Correction: Chris Hoy was first elected to the city council in a special election in March 2017. This article originally said Hoy was appointed to the seat. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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