BEND, OR -- City Club of Central Oregon plans to host a gubernatorial debate at the Riverhouse in Bend, October first. However, which candidates will attend is still up in the air. In a press release, the City Club of Central Oregon said, "Historically, Central Oregon debates have been a feature of Oregon's governor races. The last such debate was held 20 miles south of Bend in Sunriver in 2014. Sponsors of the One Oregon debate believe it is important for the candidates to visit and debate the issues on both sides of the Cascades Range and to address the many issues facing Oregonians who live beyond just the I-5 corridor."
City Club Executive Director Joey Drucker says the Bend forum is a partnership with the Technology Association of Oregon and all local Chambers of Commerce, "They all felt that City Club was the perfect place because we are nonpartisan, and most other organizations have some sort of leaning – whether it’s toward business, or something." She says they started planning the event in March, after realizing the only forums for the 2018 Governor's race are scheduled for Portland and Medford, "We were a little disappointed when we heard that there were only three debates agreed to, and they were all west of the Cascades; that just doesn’t seem to represent our entire state."
Drucker says they've tried to be flexible to accommodate the candidates, "We sent a letter to the Democratic and Republican candidates on August sixth, for October first. There are some other dates available – but also working with the Riverhouse because that’s the venue in town that would be able to hold such a large group. And so, we’ve been working with both of the campaigns since then to make sure this happens." She tells KBND News, "We have heard back from both candidates: one has accepted and one we’re hoping will accept. We’re still in negotiations with that." Bend State Representative and Republican nominee for Governor Knute Buehler has confirmed he'll be there. But, in an email Tuesday, the Democratic Governor's Communications Director told KBND News Brown has only agreed to the three debates in Portland and Medford on October second, fourth and ninth. He says, "Each debate will be available for all Oregonians to view on television and online."
The City Club forum will go on, says Drucker, "Hard to have a debate with one side. But, since Knute Buehler is from Central Oregon and a lot of people know him here, it seems that Kate Brown would also want to come here and talk about the issues." She says Independent Party nominee Patrick Starnes has not been invited. The Bend event is October first, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Riverhouse. It's open to the public with pre-registration.