We’ve always believed that voters in the city of Bend do not need to have a separate election for mayor. At the same time, Councilor Mark Capell has taken the right step to make the current road to mayordom visible to the public.
Bend has a strong city manager form of government, which means councilors hire a manager to take charge of the nuts and bolts of city operation. The council, in turn, sets policy for the city and approves its annual budget.
The city’s mayor, meanwhile, is one among equals, chosen by his or her fellow councilors to the post for a two-year term. While the mayor is busier with city business than most other councilors, the job remains largely a ceremonial one.
It’s a system that has served the city well over the years, and there’s no need to change it now, barring evidence that the current system has somehow hurt the city.
Capell, who wants the mayor’s job next year, announced his desire publicly at Monday night’s council meeting. That is unusual: The mayor’s post is often filled by the full council with little or no public discussion.
If there are other members of the council who also want the mayor’s job, they, too, should step forward in the next few weeks and make their names known. They, like Capell, should tell the council, in public, just why they believe they’re best-suited for the job. Doing so would not give city residents a direct say in who replaces Jeff Eager as mayor come January. It would allow residents to let members of the council know if they have strong feelings about any of the potential choices for the job, however. And that, in turn, might help shape the resulting vote.
Again, Bend has no reason to change the way its mayor is chosen. That does not mean, however, that sunshine on the current process isn’t worth the exposure a public discussion of the candidates would bring.