Editorial: Jim Clinton should be Bend mayor

Published Jan 15, 2013 at 04:00AM

Bend city councilors are scheduled to decide Wednesday who should be the next mayor. It should be Jim Clinton.

Councilors Jodie Barram and Mark Capell have also declared interest in the position.

Why Clinton?

Front and center on the council’s agenda is the future of the city’s water system. Whether or not you agree with what the city had planned, critics, city staff and councilors have all said the city blew it. It failed to effectively engage the community in the decision. The topic may have played a starring role in the November council elections. Voters elected three new city councilors who expressed concern about the city’s plans.

The water project is now in limbo, with the new councilors coming in and its legal challenges. Clinton is the best choice to move the city forward.

More than the other members of the council, he has been challenging the city’s plans all along. It gives him some credibility with its critics. But at the same time, Clinton recognizes the need to act to ensure the city’s water supply for the future. He wants to retain the city’s dual sources of water — from wells and from Bridge Creek.

Clinton’s training — he is a physicist — also seems to immunize him from being dazzled by scientific presentations made to the council. Don’t underestimate how important that is.

Clinton does have a track record of being a lone “no” vote on a number of council issues, including the water project. But it has not been thoughtless negativism. He has a firm understanding that the role of the mayor and the role of a councilor are different. As mayor, it would be his job to move the council and community toward consensus and clearly communicate the council’s intent to city staff.

The new council is going to have other decisions to make, big and small. Some we know, such as the need for sewer infrastructure improvements and the city’s urban growth boundary. Many we don’t know.

Clinton, Barram and Capell all have said they are committed to an open governing process that at least attempts to engage critics. So there’s no significant difference there.

Capell is perhaps smoother than Clinton in speaking off the cuff. As mayor pro tempore, Barram has repeatedly demonstrated a flair for running council meetings that ensurethat all councilors get heard and get their questions answered.

Barram and Capell would be effective replacements for Mayor Jeff Eager. We’re not surprised they are running, but Clinton holds more promise for Bend.