Oregon Councilman Mike Seferian attributed his dominant win over incumbent Mayor Marge Brown in the mayoral primary on Tuesday to perseverance.
“I worked hard. I thought I would do well. But I was very pleased when the vote totals started coming in,” said Seferian. “I felt my supporters were getting out the message I was trying to give, and people were listening.”
Seferian, 51, will face Brown, 72, in the November election. Seferian, who has been on council for nine terms, won 54 percent of the vote, while Brown, who is seeking reelection to a third term, won 37 percent. Grocer Marvin Dabish finished last with less than 9 percent of the vote.
“Marge and I have been in politics since 1989, so we’ve been there for a long time,” said Seferian. “I think Marge is represented today pretty much what she was years ago. And I portray the image I’ve always had. I’ve matured along the way and became a better speaker to relate to someone better than I did 20 years ago. So when voters were making a choice, they could make that decision based on a lot of years knowing both of us.”
Brown faced an uncertain outcome in the primary since her son, Jeff, an Oregon police officer, was disciplined as a result of an investigation that showed he had abused his authority as an officer with several women over a seven and a half year period. He was suspended for 20 days for using a police Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) computer on a former girlfriend over a two year period and given a written reprimand for saying a teacher at St. Patricks of Heatherdowns School, where his children attend, was a convicted felon. A third woman alleged she had sex on several occasions with Officer Brown while he was on duty, but the charges were dismissed because a report on the complaint by former Police Chief Tom Gulch, who was fired by Mayor Brown in 2005, could not be found.
“I hope voters were pulling that lever for me and not against Marge,” said Seferian. “It could be a combination of both, but I hope they’re pulling it for me. I’ve been very upfront and straightforward all my career as a councilman. I think that, especially now, people are getting tired of the old school type politics. It’s a new era. And I think people feel refreshed that I always portrayed myself as a guy who could deal with straight talk and speak from my heart.”
Seferian said one of the first things he would work on as mayor is improving the city’s image.
“I think the trend is to move toward business minded people as their political leaders is something that’s happening nationally. Businesses, especially small businesses, depend very heavily on the image they can portray about their business. If you can’t do that, you will lose money and go out of business,” he said. Seferian has worked in his family business, an auto repair shop, for 30 years. “The image that we portray there is that of honesty. I take the time to talk with anyone who comes in with a very friendly atmosphere every day of the week. I’ve had to sell myself to be accepted and trusted. I would like to bring that atmosphere to the city.”
He would also work to relax some regulations in the building and sign code.
Before we can attract businesses more aggressively, we have to work on our image. We should reach out to them, aid them in any way, to get their building permits, work to understand what they need, versus setting up hurdles. We have been known as a city that is not friendly to business,” said Seferian.
Brown offered little comment on the primary to The Press.
“I’m going to get together with my team to prepare for the November election,” she said.
When asked what issues she is going to address in the campaign, she said she was not ready to discuss them.
“When I do, I’ll give you a call,” she said.