Sam Adams has won the race to become Mayor of the American city of Portland, Oregon.

The 44-year-old, who is a city commissioner, said he intends to concentrate on reducing the dropout rate in the city’s schools and boost the economy.

Portland, with a population of more than half a million people, is one of the top 30 cities in America and the largest city in the US so far to elect an openly gay or lesbian mayor.

Mr Adams won more than 58 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, giving him an outright victory over his opponents.

“I’m running not to be a gay mayor, but a great mayor,” Mr Adams said in his victory speech. He will take office in January.

“But I’m very aware that I’m the first openly gay mayor of a major American city. That’s a real honour.”

Four years ago Oregon passed a law restricting marriage to a man and a woman.

“With the position of mayor comes life and death authority and responsibility in running a police force, emergency preparedness system and fire departments,” Mr Adams told Oregonlive.com.

“But gay folks still can’t be trusted to be married.”

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which backed Mr Adams, said:

“In Oregon, fairness has won the day.”

The fund works to increase the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government in America.

It has helped increase the number of out elected officials from 49 in 1991, when it was founded, to more than 400 today. Victory has endorsed nearly 60 candidates so far in 2008.

In other Oregon news, Secretary of State candidate Kate Brown advanced to a November general election after easily winning her Democratic primary.

Ms Brown, who is currently the Democratic leader in the Oregon Senate, would become the nation’s highest ranking openly bisexual elected official if she wins her November general election.

“These victories mean that people who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can also be seen as capable, committed leaders whose sexual orientation or gender identity is less important than what they plan to do for their communities,” said Mr Wolfe.

“That’s a step toward full equality that we want to replicate across America.”