In January, the Bend City Council will choose its mayor in a far more public process than in the past. Although citizens have no direct vote, they have been invited to let councilors know their views.
Three councilors have asked for the job: Jodie Barram, Mark Capell and Jim Clinton. Each brings different strengths to the job, but the issues facing the city right now make Clinton the best choice for mayor with Barram as mayor pro tem.
The city’s water project was front and center in the recent election, and voters chose candidates who expressed serious reservations. Although we strongly support preservation of the city’s dual sources of water, it’s clear that some aspects of the plan will be re-examined. Public opposition is strong and the issues complex.
Clinton has been on the council for eight years and has often been the lone no vote. But his is no simple, reflexive opposition. This is a scientist who knows how to analyze complex issues and has a broad understanding of how we got to where we are. He knows that extensive investments already made must be considered going forward, and he appreciates the need to involve the project’s critics.
The mayor has a different role from a councilor, Clinton told us, with responsibility to coordinate, to establish consensus and to articulate the intent of the council, making Clinton’s ability to understand the issues a critical asset. He said the water project “went off the rails” because the council did not pay enough attention to opponents, leaving some believing that city staff wasn’t telling the truth.
Clinton is uniquely suited to work through the water project’s issues, as well as others facing the city, such as sewer infrastructure and expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary. He believes critics will be satisfied if the city responds in a transparent and forthright manner. Although we think he may be overly optimistic on that point, we are big fans of openness and agree it can alleviate suspicion and increase public support of city decisions.
Barram is also an appealing candidate and would no doubt be an effective mayor. She’s particularly strong as a community spokesperson and as the city’s representative for intergovernmental organizations. She and Clinton would complement each other well.
We’re grateful to Capell for launching this public process for the mayoral selection, but we think others are better suited to bringing consensus on controversial issues.
For citizens, this is a rare opportunity to express an opinion about the selection of a mayor. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org .or.us, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, knightand email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.