BEND, OR -- Bend City Councilors are asking for more public feedback and suggestions on proposed changes to the city’s Charter, before they decide what send to voters in May. Councilor Bruce Abernethy was involved with the Charter Review Committee and supports recommendations to change how Councilors and the Mayor are elected. "The committee did a fabulous job of doing research and learning what other cities have done. But, this is really an opportunity to sort of do a reality check of, 'what do the citizens of Bend think?' I’m even hoping for some ideas of, even beyond the ward system or beyond a directly elected mayor, there may be some ideas we can implement that don’t necessarily have a cost - of increasing diversity, improving representation and helping people feel more engaged and more represented."
The public feedback session begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall. "Now, it’s time for people who have actually been in the position, actually gone through, campaigned," says Abernethy, "And then also hearing from the citizens – what do they want? Because, this is sort of a test run, as it were, if it were put on the ballot in May, what the voters would say."
He tells KBND News he's hopeful Councilors will decide at the meeting whether to send the revisions to voters in May, "I think it’s likely that a decision will be made. It also may be fairly obvious what the decision is." He'd like to see a clear consensus. "I’m supportive of it, but this is something that’s put before the voters. It’s up to the voters to decide whether they think this, in fact, is an improvement over the system we have right now."
They’re up against the clock, to get it on the May ballot. "There is a timeline, as far as the number of weeks before the actual ballot gets named; it needs to go through a number of processes. So, this is not something that can be dragged out very much longer. And, quite frankly, I think the charter review committee has done its job, they have given the Council a recommendation, and I think we do have to make a decision yay or nay."