April 5: An unconventional State of the County for unprecedented times

April 6, 2020

For the most up-to-date information about Multnomah County's COVID-19 response, please check our COVID-19 website, and the County’s Twitter and Facebook channels, often. You can also contact my office if you have any other questions.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Early spring is traditionally a hectic time in my office. Not only are we working hard to prepare the Multnomah County executive budget for the next fiscal year, we’re also pulling together stories and listing accomplishments to craft the annual State of the County address. 

Every year, I give this address in front of several hundred community members from a large venue like the Governor Hotel or Reynolds High School; this year, the plan was to gather at Revolution Hall in southeast Portland. 

Chair Deborah Kafoury delivers her State of the County address from the Gladys McCoy Building.
Chair Deborah Kafoury delivers her State of the County address from the Gladys McCoy Building.
But this year is not most years. The COVID-19 crisis has reframed, reprioritized and otherwise adjusted nearly all of the County’s work, and our comprehensive response to this public health emergency will be ongoing for the foreseeable future. I already know that the rest of my term as County Chair will be dedicated to getting through the immediate COVID-19 emergency and our community’s ensuing recovery.

After deliberating with my team, I decided to go ahead with the 2020 State of the County, but it wouldn’t — and shouldn’t — be a typical one. Instead of using the speech to recount the many things we’ve accomplished over the last year, I wanted to use the moment to share how the County has been responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Because, as I said during the address, “what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it, says a whole lot about who Multnomah County is and always has been.”

So on Friday, that’s what I did — from a conference room on the sixth floor of the County’s Health Department headquarters, in front of a webcam, joined in the room by just two staff members and a sign language interpreter.

And as unconventional as this event was, I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder to tell the public about the state of Multnomah County.

We are truly in unprecedented times, but Multnomah County continues to work around the clock to meet the needs of the people we serve. We are rising to every new challenge and taking care of our neighbors. The COVID-19 crisis will sharpen our vision of what a county government should strive to be to best support its residents. Multnomah County is ready, and capable, of living up to it.

Sincerely,

Deborah Kafoury
Multnomah County Chair

You can read the full text of my speech here or watch it below (remarks start at about 5 minutes).