Cogen keeping a low profile in last week as Multnomah County chair

Cogen keeping a low profile in last week as Multnomah County chair

PORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen’s last day is next Monday, but it’s tough to gauge how his final days in office are going, as he was nowhere to be found at a board meeting Tuesday.

Cogen announced his resignation Friday, bringing an end to the stormy weeks that followed news of his affair with a county employee.

He was noticeably absent from his seat at the center of the board of commissioners’ bench during a meeting Tuesday. Cogen was apparently in the county building, but working to transition his chief of staff, Marissa Madrigal, who is replacing him as well as wrap up loose ends.

He’s also not expected to attend a second commissioners meeting on Thursday.

Is the embattled chairman hiding?

“He’s in the building, in his office doing the work he needs to do to finish up,” Multnomah County spokesman David Austin said. “That’s not for me to say or you to say if he’s hiding. The public can make their own determination.”

Another big question: Who has expressed interest in Cogen’s position, the top job in Multnomah County government?

Two commissioners voiced interest in Cogen’s position come May’s primary election. (Madrigal has said she doesn’t plan to run.)

“I’ve been seriously thinking about that job and trying to figure out where I add value to being the chair,” Commissioner Loretta Smith.

Commissioner Deborah Kafoury also tentatively said she was interested.

“I am seriously looking at running,” she said. “I do not have an announcement to make now, but it’s definitely something that I intend to do in the future.”

If Kafoury decides to run, she would have to step down from her current post as soon as she files. Smith would not have to step down, as she’s in the last year of her term.

Anyone interested in running for Cogen’s seat has until March to file for the May primary.