The Bend City Council lost its strongest link to the past this week when Kathie Eckman resigned. Eckman’s service to the city began in the 1980s; with interruptions it lasted 19 years and stretched over more than two decades.
Eckman’s resignation was as gracious as her presence on the council has been. Though she lost her bid for re-election Tuesday, it was her husband’s health problems, not sour grapes, that prompted her to step down. She asked fellow councilors to appoint her opponent to fill out the remaining two months of her term.
She needn’t have done that, and the council could leave the vacancy open until Sally Russell’s term begins in January. We believe, by the way, that the council should take Eckman’s advice and bring Russell on early.
Eckman began her service on city government in 1980, not too many years after she arrived in Bend. She was re-elected in 1982 but stepped down when she moved outside the city limits. She ran again and won a four-year term in 1988. She repeated her win in 1992 and did so again in 2000 and 2008.
Eckman has been a quiet, thoughtful presence on the council through pro-growth and anti-growth periods, able to work with both sides of an occasionally polarized group. Never a podium pounder, her style has been to do her homework and act on what she learned in doing so. She has also served two terms as mayor.
With her resignation the council has lost a vital link to its own recent history. Only Eckman, for example, was on the council when two city managers were fired and another two hired. She has served longer on the council than Eric King, the current city manager, has lived in Bend. Institutional memory like hers is impossible to replace overnight.
Bend has been well served by Eckman over the years. The entire community owes her its thanks for that service.