PORTLAND – Multnomah County Commissioners Deborah Kafoury announced Monday that she would officially enter the race for county chair.
The position was vacated in Sept. when Jeff Cogen resigned over an extramarital affair he had with county worker Sonja Manhas. A May 2014 election will determine a new interim chair and a chair who will serve a full four-year term after December 21, 2014.
Kafoury has long said that she would run for the position but has delayed officially entering the race because county rules require her to give up her current position first.
As commissioner for District 1, she represents inner Southeast Portland and the entire Westside. Kafoury will leave her position Friday and Liesl Wendt will act as interim commissioner until the May election.
Kafoury told The Oregonian Monday that the news former City Commissioner Jim Francesconi was entering the race prompted her to jump in.
With Francesconi and Kafoury both in, the election has become a fight between two relative political heavyweights.
Kafoury is often hailed as part of a Portland political dynasty. Her parents, Stephen and Gretchen, both served in the Oregon Legislature. Gretchen went on to win a seat on the Multnomah County Commission and then the Portland City Council. Deborah served as a Democrat representing North/Northeast Portland in the state House of Representatives from 1999-2004.
Francesconi, a former personal injury attorney, sat on the Portland City Council for 8 years before running an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2004. He has been absent from elected politics since then. He officially filed his candidacy Monday.
County Commissioner Loretta Smith has also said she is interested in running for county chair.