BEND, OR -- Bend residents have an opportunity, Tuesday night, to weigh-in on whether changes should be made to the city's charter. Bend 2030, the City Club of Central Oregon and Bend Chamber of Commerce are hosting two meetings focused on things like whether the Mayor should be elected by voters instead of chosen by sitting Councilors, and how much City Councilors are paid.
Erin Foote-Morgan, with Bend 2030, tells KBND News the forums are designed to help shape recommendations that will eventually be sent to the City Council. "We, in our conversations with the community, heard a lot of interest in Charter review, but not a lot of folks really understanding the pros and cons involved. We wanted to learn more about them ourselves, as organizations, and really come to understand where people are leaning on this before any of our organizations really looked more deeply at what our positions might be."
Mayor Jim Clinton and Councilor Victor Chudowsky often disagreed during their time on Council, but as both face the end of their terms, they are strongly advocating for a new look. Foote-Morgan says Clinton and Chudowsky will talk at Tuesday's forum. "We don’t know yet whether having an elected mayor would mean stronger leadership. But, we could kind of see how, yeah, it might. If we had someone who was kind of the champion of the community’s hopes and desires, if we had a community electing that person as our mayor, we might be more effective in accomplishing the agenda of the community." Chudowsky has been a strong supporter of the "ward system," which would create districts within the city from which Councilors would be elected.
Bend’s charter was last reviewed in 2011, but Councilors chose then not to advocate for any changes. "I think that one of our hopes, this time around, is to make sure there’s enough input from the entire community that we’re really taking a hard look at it," says Foote-Morgan. "As of about, I believe, eight or nine months ago, six of our City Councilors lived on the west side of Third Street. If we were to ask the neighborhoods in southeast Bend, northeast Bend, ‘do you feel represented by the City Council elections structure?’ The answer is unequivocally, ‘no I don’t.’" Any charter revisions would have to be approved by City Councilors then sent to voters.
Tuesday's forum begins at 5 p.m. at the Central Oregon Collective at 27th Street and Highway 20. A second forum is scheduled for November first. Click HERE for more information.