Jeff Cogen: I'm not running for Mayor. Here's why.

By Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen.

Over the past year, I’ve worked hard at Multnomah County to ensure that our residents can weather this dreadful economy. The critical questions that I wish more people would ask include:

But instead, I’ve been asked over and over, “Are you going to run for mayor?” Frankly, the answers to the first three questions are more important than the answer to the last one, which is: No. I will not be running for mayor.

I know how important good leadership is to Portland’s future and I care deeply about our city. But I made a commitment to the residents of Multnomah County when I took this job, and I’ve decided that I can best help by remaining as County Chair - continuing the work we’ve begun to ensure our safety net survives and our community remains healthy and safe in these incredibly challenging times.

I’m proud of the great progress we’ve made at Multnomah County. Our government has evolved from a place where challenges were compounded by dysfunctional leadership to one where collaboration allows us to effectively address vexing problems.

From using surplus county land to grow food for the Oregon Food Bank to opening a new center to help stabilize people experiencing a mental health crisis, to finally building the long-needed new East County Courthouse – we’ve responded to cuts by increasing partnerships and being innovative. We’ve taken a hard look at our own organization and have made very difficult but essential changes to prepare the county for the future.

The county’s challenges aren’t easy, but our leadership addresses them with mutual respect and the understanding that we’re in this together. As I’ve spoken with people who have urged me to enter the mayor’s race, I’ve heard again and again that city government has lost its compass. There is undoubtedly excellent work being done at the city, but I encourage Portlanders to use this election season to engage not only on what our priorities are, but on how we go about acting on them.

Local government truly is the place where community values are put into action – where we can demonstrate that government isn’t them, it’s us. I’m excited to continue to serve our community with my colleagues on the Board of Commissioners and the 4,500 dedicated Multnomah County employees. The relationship between the county and the city is extremely important to our success, and I look forward to working with whomever serves as Portland’s next mayor.

  • (Show?)

    Now, it'll be interesting to see if he endorses anyone...

  • (Show?)

    As one of the Cogen supporters who was encouraging him to run, I'll say this:

    Thank you, Jeff, for the thoughtful and deliberate approach you took in exploring this possibility - and focusing on how best to help the community, rather than merely reaching for the next political brass ring.

guest column

connect with blueoregon