PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – New Multnomah County Chair Marissa Madrigal took the oath of office Tuesday following the tumultuous resignation of her former boss, Jeff Cogen, who left the position earlier this month after admitting to carrying on an affair with an aide.
In her first address as chair, Madrigal’s message was that it was time to move forward.
“The path to this day has been trying for the county,” she said. “But I can assure you, there’s no need to get back to work, because the work here never stopped.”
Madrigal delivered some of her speech in Spanish, stressing the county’s relationship with its immigrant community.
“I will work hard to maintain and improve the communication between you and the county,” Madrigal said.
On July 16, Cogen, a married father of two, admitted to an affair with 41-year-old Sonia Manhas, the director of policy and planning for the Multnomah County Health Department. The confession came after an anonymous email was circulated that alleged that Manhas had possibly been promoted to the position due to her relationship with him.
Manhas resigned her position July 24.
On July 25, in a largely ceremonial move, the Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 to remove him, with Cogen being the sole dissenter. After initially refusing to quit, Cogen announced Sept. 6 that he would resign.
Madrigal, Cogen’s longtime chief of staff, resigned that position two days before his announcement to seemingly take a lower-paying job with the county’s human resource department. However, Cogen appointed her as chair. She will remain there until the May 2014 election.
Meanwhile, Multnomah County has launched an outside investigation into whether Cogen misused funds and violated personnel rules with the relationship. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum also announced in July that the state had begun its own criminal investigation into Cogen’s actions.
— Brent Weisberg contributed to this report.
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