BEND, OR -- Bend voters overwhelmingly approved a change to the city’s charter, allowing for a directly-elected mayor starting in November. The measure passed with 74% of the vote. Until now, the Mayor has been selected from among sitting City Councilors, by their vote. Councilor Sally Russell says it’s time, "Bend is growing quickly, and to have the electorate be able to choose who is driving the decisions and working with a Council to be informed on all the decisions that come in front of Council these days, is incredibly invaluable."
About 54% of Bend voters also approved removing language from the charter that sets Councilor pay; going forward, their compensation will be set by ordinance, which requires a public process. Russell tells KBND News increasing compensation could lead to more candidates, in the future, because it more appropriately compensates Councilors for the work they do, "This item, in particular, is going to have a huge effect on the increase in diversity of people you see serving – running for election and serving on City Council. I think that’s the opportunity that we have in front of us."
A citizen advisory committee recommends increasing Councilor pay from $200 to $533 a month, and paying a directly-elected Mayor $1,066. The amount paid to current Councilors won’t change until each position goes through an election.