June 5, 2014

Chair Kafoury shakes hands with County Attorney Jenny Madkour after being sworn in on Thursday, June 5.

Deborah Kafoury became the 11th chair in Multnomah County’s history when she was sworn in on Thursday to head Oregon’s most populous county.

Kafoury, who won election last month to fill the rest of the four-year county chair's term through 2014 and for the full four-year term starting in January 2015, was sworn in by County Attorney Jenny Madkour.

Kafoury said after the swearing-in ceremony on June 5 in her office at the county’s Hawthorne building that “today really marks the beginning of a new era” that builds on the “amazing job” done by Multnomah County employees providing services to more than 750,000 residents.

The previously elected chair resigned last year. Marissa Madrigal has been serving as the interim, the 10th person to hold the chair’s position since the creation of the chair’s position by a voter-approved charter change in 1966.

Kafoury, 46, told reporters and staffers gathered for the June 5 ceremony in her sixth-floor office that she wants to focus on issues of poverty, homelessness and mental illness in the county.

“I’m going to spend the next 30 days on a listening tour of Multnomah County,” Kafoury said, ‘to find out what’s working and what’s not working.

“I aim to be the kind of a leader who isn’t just sitting on the sixth floor,” she said.

A larger public swearing-in ceremony for Kafoury as the new chair will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, June 9 at the county’s Midland Library branch (805 S.E. 122nd Ave. in Portland).

Kafoury comes to the chair’s office after serving more than four years as the county commissioner representing District 1. Commissioner Liesl Wendt has been serving as the interim since Kafoury resigned the seat last fall to run for county chair. 

In the race for the District 1 commissioner's seat, state Rep. Jules Bailey won election last month to the rest of the four-year term through 2016. He will be sworn in on June 9.