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Deborah Kafoury takes reins of Multnomah County

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Deborah Kafoury hugs a supporter shortly after the first election results revealed her sweeping victory over Jim Francesconi. Deborah Kafoury trounced Jim Francesconi and a field of lesser-known candidates Tuesday in the race for Multnomah County Chair.

Kafoury took the stage at Jimmy Mak’s Tavern at 8:04 p.m. after the first batch of results showed her with a commanding lead.

Tearing up, she thanked several dozen cheering campaign volunteers. “I can’t wait to get back to work at Multnomah County,” she said.

Kafoury said she hopes to continue focusing on housing and homelessness issues as county chair, something she has targeted in her past service as a county commissioner.

“I think that our message about helping families and children really resonated with voters,” she said.

Kafoury added that she hasn’t given any thought yet to who she might hire on her new staff to manage the county.

In a rather low-key campaign event at the Eastbank Tavern, Francesconi dined quietly with his family with a small corps of volunteers on hand.

“I’m proud of the campaign we ran, because we came from way back,” he said.

Francesconi said he plans to stay active in civic affairs, focusing, as he has for the past decade, on education and employment issues, in addition to his law practice.




MULTNOMAH COUNTY CHAIR
Results as of 3 a.m. Wednesday, May 21

Candidate Votes
Deborah Kafoury
53,728
Jim Franceconi
14,902
Aquilas Montas
1,011
Steven Reynolds
7,061
Patty Burkett
3,482
Wes Soderback
1,913



Kafoury will fill out the remaining term of former County Chair Jeff Cogen, which ends in December, as well as a full four-year term starting in January.

Cogen resigned last September, in the wake of revelations he had a sexual relationship with a county health manager. Cogen’s former chief of staff Marissa Madrigal has served as county chair on an interim basis until voters could choose a replacement.

Kafoury has served most of two terms as county commissioner, and resigned several months early in her second term to run for the chair’s position. She previously served five years in the Oregon House of Representatives.

Kafoury began the race with a sizable advantage in name recognition, which many credit to her family name. The family includes several civic leaders, including her mother, Gretchen Kafoury, a former city commissioner and county commissioner; her dad, Stephen Kafoury, a state lobbyist and former state legislator; and her stepmother Marge Kafoury, a former Metro councilor and lobbyist.

Francesconi is a lawyer and former Portland city commissioner, whose career foundered after he lost the Portland mayor’s race in 2004 to Tom Potter, despite a commanding edge in fundraising.

Kafoury raised about $429,000 in campaign donations in 2013 and 2014, while Francesconi raised about $321,000 at last count.

Also in the race were five lesser-known candidates who failed to raise much money or gain traction in their races: Aquiles Montas, Steven Reynolds, Patty Burkett, James Rowell and Wes Soderback. Rowell only sought election to the interim position, not the full four-year term.

Three Multnomah County incumbents scored easy re-election wins Tuesday night. Multnomah County Auditor Steve March, who ran unopposed, won election Tuesday to a second four-year term.

March became auditor in June 2009, filling in when LaVonne Griffin-Valade departed mid-term to become Portland city auditor. March was lected to a full four-year term in 2010. He previously served three terms in the Oregon House of Representatives, and earlier served as an auditor and staffer for Multnoman County.

Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton, who also ran unopposed, won election Tuesday to a second four-year term. He became interim sheriff in 2009, when then-Sheriff Bob Skipper left the post mid-term. Staton was elected to a full term in 2010. He began his career with the department in 1989 as a deputy sheriff.

County Commissioner Loretta Smith also won election to a second four-year term, to represent District 2, which includes North Portland and northeast neighborhoods north of the Banfield Freeway out to 185th Avenue. After the first batch of votes was counted, it was clear that Smith, a longtime former aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Portland, easily defeated three challengers: Kelvin Hall, Teressa Raiford and Bruce Broussard.