BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors have agreed to ask voters whether the city’s charter should be revised. After more than a year of community discussions and various proposals, the Council plans to finalize the language for two ballot measures in early February; those would appear on the May ballot.
"The first is: Is Bend ready for a directly elected Mayor? So, the citizens would get to choose the Mayor instead of the current state, which, the Council chooses a Mayor every two years amongst itself," Bend City Manager Eric King tells KBND News. If the measure passes in May, numerous candidates could campaign for the seat in November. "Some cities – some larger cities – do sort of primaries for Mayor or Council positions. We’re not there yet," says King. "But, that could be something that’s in the future, where there’s a runoff, so to speak, where you have a slate of candidates; and then those top two vote-getters might have a faceoff for an election."
Allowing voters to decide who becomes Mayor wouldn't change how the city is run. King says, "The Mayor’s primary job is to run the Council meetings. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s more power; they don’t have veto power, they’re vote doesn’t matter any more than any other Councilor. But, it provides some sense of whose leading that elected body."
The other revision would remove from the charter the amount Councilors and the Mayor are paid. Currently, the rate is included in the charter, which means it can only be revised by ballot measure. King says that makes it difficult to make adjustments for inflation. Councilors are paid $200 - an amount set back in 1995. This week, City Council asked that a compensation committee come up with some proposals prior to the charter revision vote in May. "They would form that independent committee so voters know what the compensation recommendation would be." He adds, "Councils can’t vote themselves raises. It would not be until an intervening election takes place that that would come into effect."
Bend City Council is expected to vote February 7 on how those proposals will look on the May ballot.
to listen to our full conversation with Bend City Manager Eric King, or visit our Podcast Page