The race for Multnomah County Chair just got a little louder.

Former Portland City Commissioner Jim Francesconi this morning challenged former Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury to five public forums over two months.

"Let's both put our cards on the table," Francesconi wrote Kafoury this morning, "and have a candid discussion about the county."

The letter says Francesconi will hold the forums at five locations across the county, and invites all candidates to attend.

The forums offer two advantages for Francesconi. They give him a chance to reintroduce himself to a public that may have forgotten him after a decade away from office. And they let him make a case that the county commission—where Kafoury served until resigning to run for chair—has not done all it could for poor and working-class voters.

"With poverty doubling in Multnomah County in the last 11 years, we are experiencing an increase in the gap between rich and poor that is both ethically and technically our job as county chair to take on," Francesconi wrote this morning. "As the outsider in this race, I have specific plans to do so energetically and creatively."

Kafoury's campaign did not immediately reply to WW's request for comment.

Francesconi and Kafoury are the leading candidates to replace former county chairman Jeff Cogen, who resigned last year after revelations he had an affair with a county health department employee.

UPDATE, 12:45 pm: Kafoury's campaign this afternoon said it was unlikely to attend the forums, and derided Francesconi's proposal as a media ploy.

"There is nothing to say yes or no to," says Jillian Schoene, Kafoury's campaign director. "This is just a stunt."

Schoene says Kafoury will attend five joint appearances already scheduled with Francesconi.