BEND, OR -- The discussion about changes to Bend's city charter got underway in earnest, Tuesday evening, at a forum hosted by Bend 2030, the Bend Chamber of Commerce and City Club of Central Oregon. The biggest questions were whether voters should select the Mayor, and whether Councilors should be paid more than the current $200 monthly stipend.
City Councilors Victor Chudowsky and Jim Clinton, both in support of revising the charter, participated in the forum at the Central Oregon Collective on Bend's east side. Chudowsky told the crowd, "I think, if you had a directly elected Mayor, that position would be more accountable. In other words, a voter would say, 'I like the job he or she is doing; I'll re-elect him.' Or, if not, 'I'll not vote for that person.' That doesn't work right now because seven of us are responsible for everything but no individual person is responsible for any single thing; especially in neighborhoods."
Clinton, who currently sits as Bend's Mayor, agreed. "It's that accountability factor that's essentially missing to some degree - I wouldn't say totally, obviously - in our system. Being appointed, being elected by the other six Councilors, makes me sort of accountable to them. I would rather have a Mayor who's more accountable to the people that elected them." Former Bend Mayor Oran Teater also spoke in favor of changing the charter to allow voters to decide, and to pay Councilors more than the current stipend.
Bend's form of city government was first established in 1929, with a city commission format where Councilors are elected and they appoint the Mayor; a City Manager runs the day-to-day operations. A second charter review forum is scheduled for November first.