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

Jeff Cogen to Take Over Next Month as Multnomah County Chair


The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has reached a unanimous decision to make Commissioner Jeff Cogen the new interim county chairman.

He will take over early next month.

The decision, finalized among the four commissioners and their staffers late last week, seeks to fill a leadership void after Gov. Ted Kulongoski tapped now-former County Chair Ted Wheeler to take over as state treasurer last week.

According to the agreed plan, Cogen will move to Wheeler's office to oversee writing the county budget this spring and handle other political matters until Wheeler's term expires in January 2011.

Cogen, a first-term commissioner, is running in the May primary against two obscure contenders for a full four-year term as county chair. Commissioner Deborah Kafoury tells WW the board's decision to appoint Cogen chair was made easier by the fact he's considered to shoo-in to win.

"It gives him a head start moving into next year, and it'll give some stability in the budget process," says Corie Wiren, chief of staff to Commissioner Diane McKeel.

County Chief Operating Office Jana McLellan took over last week as interim county chair. Sources say she'll stay on as chief operating officer under Cogen to continue crafting the 2010-2011 budget.

Meantime Cogen's chief of staff, Marissa Madrigal, will move into what was formerly Wheeler's wing of MultCo headquarters next Monday to begin overseeing Wheeler's former 10-member staff. Wheeler's former chief of staff, Tom Rinehart, is moving with Wheeler to become his chief of staff in the treasurer's office in Salem.

Cogen's move to the chair's office will open up his District 2 commissioner position representing North/Northeast Portland. The goal is to have someone in place representing the district as an interim at the same time Cogen moves to the chair's office.

But the board has not yet identified a person to fill that spot on an interim basis until somebody wins the race for a full four-year term starting next year. Eight candidates are running in the May primary, but the board is seeking someone who is not in the race.
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