By Bill Moseley
A city councilor’s job is to listen to all sides of an issue and make a reasonable decision in the best interest of the community. Divisiveness and reflexive, ideological positions and tactics do not serve Bend well. Bend’s City Council is failing our community by picking unnecessary fights and cooking up policies behind closed doors, excluding many community members. I’m running for City Council to help change that.
The City Council began to go awry during the lead-up to the gas tax vote. In planning for the vote, the City Council heeded advice to hold a special election in March in hopes of sneaking the tax through in a low-turnout election with relatively few conservatives voting. In doing so, the City Council spent about $54,000 in desperately needed taxpayer funds in an attempt to avoid giving taxpayers a voice. The council failed to achieve its goal — with around 60 percent turnout in the election — but its intent matters. Whatever one thinks about the gas tax — I happen to believe the city does need to allocate more funds for street maintenance — the council’s approach was political cynicism at its worst.
More recently, two city councilors initially refused to meet with a representative from the local Realtors Association, all the while holding meetings with their preferred interest groups. One does not need to agree with Realtors or their positions to know that the association represents a lot of working people in Bend, and they might have something constructive to add to policy discussions. Further, the emails sent by Councilor Barb Campbell, as seen in The Bulletin, can only be characterized as unprofessional and inflammatory — far below the standards our community should expect of our elected leaders.
The council’s approach to the climate action ordinance is more troubling still. A politically charged issue was sprung on the community as an ordinance ready for approval. When confronted with the opposition of some small businesses, Mayor Jim Clinton denigrated their concerns as being profit-motivated while he was more concerned about the “public interest.” The council is not and should not hold itself out as the sole curators of the public interest. As a small-business owner myself, I know that many in the small-business community are deeply concerned about the public interest. The council should not dismiss the input of a vital part of our community.
Unfortunately, the council dug in its heels by quitting its membership in the Bend Chamber after the organization issued a scorecard evaluating councilors on their small-business support. There are good reasons why the city should not be involved financially with organizations that take policy positions on issues before the City Council. However, the manner in which the council handled this issue — singling out one organization that had dared to summarize councilors’ positions — while remaining a funder of other politically involved organizations was entirely improper. The council should not play political favorites with taxpayer funds. To add insult to injury, the council reallocated the $2,000 from the chamber to road repairs — enough to patch pavement the size of a coffee table. Actions like these antagonize, divide and are just plain arrogant and petty. We need mature leadership for Bend’s very real and substantial housing shortage and growth issues.
As a city councilor, I pledge to listen to all sides of the issues, to build and foster constructive relationships with as many people and groups in the community as possible, and to treat all Bend residents with the respect they deserve. To that end, since I announced my candidacy, I have spent time with business leaders but also with the environmental group Central Oregon LandWatch. I will continue to cast a wide net as a candidate and as a city councilor to gather the best information possible to help lead the city of Bend in a better direction.
— Bill Moseley lives in Bend and is a candidate for the Bend City Council.