Deborah Kafoury's had a good run with endorsements this year in her bid to replace Jeff Cogen as Multnomah County's elected chair—winning support from community groups and the region's law enforcement firmament last month, as well as a stunning array of current and former elected officials.
But the former county commissioner's main rival in the race, ex-City Commissioner Jim Francesconi, just put up some major points of his own. Members of AFSCME Local 88—which represents some 3,000 county employees and wields extraordinary influence on policy and politics—voted last night to give Francesconi their blessing.
The decision followed a forum featuring the two candidates where, the O reported, "Francesconi was loud and animated as he lobbied for the union's support. He swayed them with impassioned vows to fight for services in East Multnomah County and reduce the county's jail population, while Kafoury maintained a measured tone in her message to union members, promising to be their partner in office and highlighting her accomplishments as a county commissioner."
“Deborah Kafoury has done much for the public as a county commissioner, and we appreciate her respect for our union,” Local 88 President Deirdre Mahoney-Clark said in a statement. “However, Jim Francesconi’s evident passion for public service and his message of supporting school based services, generating employment opportunities in East County and working on equity within the membership in the county and contractors employed by the county resonated with our membership, and he has our endorsement.”
Local 88 was a major supporter of resigned county chair Jeff Cogen back in 2010—part of a pretty good track record, over the past few cycles, of backing winning candidates.
Update 12:45 PM: Maybe this will help soften the blow after last night's vote. The Oregon Nurses Association threw its weight behind Kafoury today, citing her support for health care funding when she was a county commissioner.
When budget cuts threatened our ability to deliver direct health care services, it was Deborah who rolled up her sleeves and made the care county nurses provide to families and children a priority,” Susan King, the union's executive director, said in a statement. “She has shown through action that she puts people first and that she has the ability to get things done, and done right. There’s no better advocate than Deborah for Multnomah County residents who rely on county services and the nurses they count on to deliver those services."