BEND, OR -- Bend’s Charter Review Committee is moving full-speed ahead toward creating recommendations for a 2018 ballot measure. City Manager Eric King says they appear to agree on the need for a directly elected mayor, but there remains a lot of discussion around how voters would select City Councilors in the future. "I think the committee seems to narrow in on either four or six wards. Those could take a variety of forms: they could be four quadrants of the city based on the directional indicators, or it could be this idea of a Super ward – where you might have the four wards and then an overlay of maybe one councilor representing the south side of Bend and then then north side. You could also, perhaps, two elected officials per ward so you don’t have complete turnover when you have an election."
Committee members are working to narrow down all those options, "Right now, what the committee is doing is interviewing cities, mainly here in Oregon, that have a ward system; or maybe they had a ward system and they don’t have one anymore," says King. "There are other local entities that this committee is interviewing, including the school district and COCC. Both of those entities have elected officials by district." Those regional districts are very similar to "wards." He says there's no talk of changing the total number of Councilors.
Voters would get the final say on any revisions to the city’s charter, which could happen as soon as the May 2018 election. However, there are still questions as to when those changes would take effect. "We also have to look at the election cycles," King tells KBND News. "We have three positions that are up in 2018. So, how you would implement a system based on three folks, and if one of them is a directly elected mayor, do the other two become two that represent wards. Or, do we move in 2020 to elect all? If we’re doing four wards, the most logical time to do that would be 2020."
The committee is expected to update Councilors on their progress October fourth.
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