March 15th, 2010 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, Multnomah County

Deborah Kafoury: Cogen to Offer County New Brand of Leadership

Deborah Kafoury

Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury praises Ted Wheeler for ending the dysfunction on the county board in 2007 after he took the chairman's job by beating Diane Linn.

But Kafoury tells WW her colleague, Commissioner Jeff Cogen, will offer a new brand of leadership. As we reported today, Cogen has unanimous backing of the county commissioners to take over as county chairman early next month. He'll replace Wheeler, who was tapped last week to take over as state treasurer.

Wheeler was risk-averse and excellent at smoothing the waters, Kafoury says, but now she looks forward to seeing Cogen "push the envelope."

"I think we're ready now to move to a new place," Kafoury says. "I think Jeff will do a great job of not just keeping us on the status quo but moving us forward."

Yet Kafoury also worries that projects like building a new East County courthouse and a mental-health crisis center could lose momentum without Wheeler's leadership.

"I wouldn't say that because he's gone, they are in jeopardy," Kafoury says. "But when he left, they were in precarious balance."

The county charter calls on the board of commissioners to appoint a replacement until the end of Wheeler's term in January. Because Cogen is running virtually unchallenged for a four-year term as chair, Kafoury says he was a natural choice to create a smooth transition.

Commissioner Judy Shiprack and Corey Wiren, chief of staff for Commissioner Diane McKeel, confirm that Cogen has their support. He likely will be appointed on April 1 at the regular Thursday morning board meeting.
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