BEND, OR -- Following months of work on potential changes to the city’s charter, Bend 2030’s findings were received less-than-enthusiastically by City Councilors, this week. Erin Foote Morgan, with Bend 2030, says Councilors were receptive to the report, which shows a majority of citizens want to elect the mayor and have four Councilors elected based on where they live, with two others “at large.”
But, she says Council doesn’t yet appear ready to tackle the details. "There are so many pressing issues in our city around housing and transportation and, do they have time to put in – as they say – ‘large marble’ into their jar of what they can accomplish. Charter review is not a small thing; it’s also not huge. Once you open the charter, there’s a lot more you can look at – little housekeeping bits. So, if they do decide to go forward it would have to be a major priority for them."
The discussion over the charter stems from Bend 2030's Livability initiative, in 2016. Council could choose to not take on the project, but Foote-Morgan feels the debate over city leadership will likely continue without them. "What came out of this process, that I was a little surprised to see, is a real emphasis on frustration on the east side of Bend on not being represented at the city level. These forums have put a finger on that issue and I think that neighborhood associations on the east side and a lot of these residents are kind of waking up to the idea that they’re not being fully represented at the city level. So, if the Council chooses not to invest their time in Charter Review, this is not an issue that I see going away."
A change to the city’s charter requires voter approval. Foote-Morgan tells KBND News, "There’s a couple ways that can go to the ballot: one is a referendum from City Council and the other is a petition, a citizen petition of about six or 7,000 signatures. Citizen groups could put it on the ballot themselves, if they felt it was important and if the Council did not have the time to really work on this issue."
To hear more of our conversation with Bend 2030's Erin Foote-Morgan, visit our Podcast Page
or click HERE