PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the first time in eight years, Multnomah County will select a new Chair in November.

According to the Multnomah County website, the Chair serves as the Chief Executive Officer and personnel officer of the county, which is the largest in the state. They administer the vast majority of county programs and preside over board meetings and votes. The chair also executes board policies, contracts, bonds and other instruments, as well as prepares the executive budget for submission to the Board of County Commissioners.

The Multnomah County Chair is a four-year term position, with a salary of just over $200,000.

Deborah Kafoury, who held the positing since 2014, is ineligible for reelection in 2022 due to term limits, and her seat will likely be filled by one of two current county commissioners.

Among the six candidates vying for the position, Jessica Vega Pederson and Sharon Meieran received the most votes during the May primary election. However, because neither earned more than 50% of the vote needed to win outright, the race will be decided in a runoff between the two candidates, with the winner declared in November — Vega Pederson had 40.33% of the vote while Meieran garnered 19.4% of the vote.

Vega Pederson has served on the County Board since 2016, representing Southeast Portland (District 3). Prior to becoming a county commissioner, she was a lawmaker from 2013 to 2015, representing East Portland.

According to her website, Vega Pederson is backed by a dozen organizations, including Pro-Choice Oregon and the Portland Association of Teachers. She is also endorsed by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek.

An article from OPB states that as commissioner, Vega Pederson led the charge to help provide preschool education to three and four-year-olds in Multnomah County. The program launched earlier this month with 677 available spots, with the goal of eventually serving any preschool student that would want to enroll.

Vega Pederson says she is running for County Chair because “everyone in our community deserves safe, stable housing, clean air and water, and the chance to learn and thrive.” She also says that she desires to “make sure all kids, no matter their zip code, have access to connected sidewalks, safe housing, and educational opportunity.”

Just like Pederson, Meieran also has been a county commissioner since 2016, serving all of Multnomah County west of the Willamette River (District 1). As an emergency physician at Kaiser Permanente, public health is one of the main focuses of her campaign, specifically, recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and dealing with Multnomah County’s mental health and addiction issues.

“I originally ran for County Commission because the core work of the County is my passion and my life’s work,” Meieran said. As an ER doctor, I triage emergencies, I stop bleeding, I resuscitate, and I put people on the road to recovery. This is what we need to be doing in Multnomah County, and this is what I will do as the County’s next CEO,” she said.

Meiran also aspires to develop a network of interconnected micro-villages, parking lots, larger villages and shelters that will allow people to live with hygiene services, dignity and improved health and safety, according to her website.

Meiran is endorsed by Rob Wagner, the majority leader of the Oregon State Senate, as well as multiple state representatives. She is also supported by the Portland Business Alliance and the Oregon Nurses Association.

Both candidates say there needs to be more accountability for the hundreds of millions of dollars county residents are paying to help the homeless and those with mental health issues.

Lisa Balick contributed to this report.