BEND, OR -- Two Bend Parks and Recreation Board candidates will answer questions from voters at the League of Women Voters forum Wednesday. That event begins at 5:15 p.m. at the Deschutes County Services building at 1300 NW Wall, in Bend. Position One is the only opposed parks board race, with Ariel Mendez facing Travis Davis. During the debate, they'll outline their platforms, and take questions from both a moderator and attendees.
Davis, the self-purported 'east side candidate,' says the current Parks and Rec board doesn't take the lower incomes of most east side residents into account when deciding on park infrastructure. "The budget has just continued to increase, and it seems that the Board is interested in maximizing their revenue opportunities and spending that revenue versus, potentially, looking at the community at large." Davis is a businessman who says he's looking at the bigger picture. He believes a lot of people want to serve on the parks board because they want to champion specific types of recreation, "When what we get on the parks board is advocates versus community-wide decision makers, you just end up adding to the list of projects you're trying to fund." He tells KBND News things like transportation and affordable housing are more important than specific recreation opportunities, "There's decisions being made at the park board level that, I guess, a more community-minded voice could help with."
Mendez wants the district to think more broadly when it comes to making better connections for residents, "The parks district touches peoples lives, and I think there's an opportunity there to make sure that we're really supporting people's individual lives, and spending our public treasure in a way that reflects the community's values." Mendez is the Board President for Bend Bikes and is a proponent of using trails as avenues, not just for fun, "The parks district has thought of trails purely in terms of recreation, and I think there's an opportunity to think of them as also a way of getting somewhere. I think a lot of people would support that." He says as Bend grows, the city needs local leaders with foresight, "I think that the parks district has a unique opportunity to provide recreational opportunities that are high quality and affordable."