Oregon Mayor-elect Mike Seferian said “good dedicated supporters” helped propel him to victory in unseating incumbent Mayor Marge Brown on Tuesday.
“I learned some things from the last election,” said Seferian, an independent who lost to Brown in 2001. “I allowed my friends to help me.”
Voter turnout was strong, with nearly 7,300 voters showing up at the polls. Seferian, who is currently on council, received 4,459 votes, or 61.17 percent of the vote, while Brown received 2,831, or 38.83 percent of the vote. Seferian beat Brown in each of the city’s 19 precincts.
“My supporters networked throughout the neighborhoods and communities for me. I didn’t realize I had such friends so dedicated – I think they were more emotional than I in this race,” he said.
“When I was feeling the heat, or pressured, they showed up at my work or house just to hang out,” he added. “They wanted change, and were willing to take a chance on me. I didn’t win this, they did.”
Seferian said he knew he had a pretty good lead over Brown when his supporters called him at work urging him to join them at the corner of Coy and Navarre roads at the Third Base carryout.
“They were holding up my campaign signs to traffic. Motorists of all ages were honking their horns over and over,” he said. What started as eight supporters waiving campaign signs at the corner at 2 p.m. grew to nearly 50 by 9 p.m., said Seferian.
“I knew then I was going to win big,” said Seferian, who will be sworn in as mayor on Nov. 30.
“There were a few motorists who gave us thumbs down,” Seferian added. “But even semis were pulling their horns, and some motorists were going around the block so they could honk their horns again.”
Seferian said he withheld from attacking his opponent with negative ads.
“Brown had ads aimed at me. We didn’t respond to that, didn’t want to compete with fliers. My message was always very clean and clear – decisions should be made on merit – not personal agendas – that was the only way the race would be run.”
The mayor’s race became more intense after Brown’s married son, Jeff, an Oregon police officer, was disciplined for using a police Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) on an ex-girlfriend over a two year period and for portraying a teacher at St. Patrick of Heatherdowns School as a convicted felon, according to a report of an internal affairs investigation that was released on Sept. 4. Charges that Brown had sex while on duty with another girlfriend were dropped, though the allegations had been substantiated in the report.
Mayor Brown said at the time that the investigation had been politically motivated. Seferian said he had nothing to do with the investigation, which was started by Oregon Police Chief Richard Stager several months ago.
Seferian said the investigation of Brown likely hurt her chances for re-election.
“We know it did,” he said. “It helped me a lot. But opposition to Marge was there before all that.”
Brown did not think the internal affairs investigation of her son contributed to her defeat.
She believes she lost due to the poor economy.
“It’s a tough year for incumbents, no matter what you do. People want incumbents out because of the problems in their lives. They blame the economy on the leaders of the cities. That’s part of it, and a majority of it. I’ve given the city eight years of my life. Things are looking up.”
She said she has job interviews lined up.
“I just came from a job interview, and I have another one for tomorrow,” Brown said Wednesday evening. “So everything is turning out great for the former mayor of Oregon. She has 30 days to go.”
She would not disclose which job she had been interviewed for, only that it was in public relations. “They want to use my connections in Columbus,” she said. “I’m far from being done in public service.”