BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors voted this week to dissolve its membership in the Bend Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Jim Clinton proposed the idea over concerns that some Chamber leaders vocally opposed to the March gas tax.
Councilor Sally Russell voted against it. She says she hoped for a bigger discussion before making a final decision. "What level of political advocacy is appropriate, number one. So that’s sort of a high-level question. And the second level is: is it appropriate for taxpayer dollars to be funding an organization that is actively engaged in endorsing political candidates, especially candidates on council. And, they do focus on political advocacy on various statewide issues." She adds, "I really felt that it was really appropriate to stay at a higher level communication, and if we’re going to talk about the Chamber, we should talk about all of the organizations that we partner with and what the criteria are. In this particular situation, it probably will be that their level of political activity and the activity of their political action committee is too interwoven." Doug Knight and Victor Chudowsky joined Russell in voting against the proposal.
Mayor Clinton and Councilors Nathan Boddie, Casey Roats and Barb Campbell voted for the plan, diverting the $2,000 annual Chamber dues instead into the streets budget. However, Russell says the vote was more emotionally driven, than financial. "It’s really not the money. It’s really – I think it goes back to the Fuel Tax. Although the Chamber itself was neutral, there were some leaders within the Chamber who drove the opposition to the Fuel Tax. And, I think that just rankles deeply some of my colleagues on Council, and I really think it came from that."
To hear our full conversation with Councilor Sally Russell, visit our Podcast Page