The latest candidate in the increasingly crowded field of people vying to become Bend’s first elected mayor is one month into an 18-month probation period for methamphetamine possession.
Timothy James Heckler, 33, filed paperwork in late June to run for mayor, although he needs to collect 150 signatures from other Bend voters to make the November ballot. He used a letter from the Deschutes County adult parole and probation department as proof of his Bend address, though he lives in transitional housing instead of the northwest Bend home owned by his grandmother.
Heckler said Thursday he wants to be Bend’s mayor to “redefine what community really is.”
“I love this community and this town better than any town that I have lived in,” he said.
Heckler moved to Bend from Denver in March 2016. He had lived in Bend as a teenager and in 2008.
His time in Denver included an October 2014 arrest after Denver Police found Heckler wearing a Tigger costume while spray-painting a city dumpster. The Denver Police Department published his photo on Facebook and dubbed him “Tony the Tagger” because officers mistook his Tigger costume for another famous cartoon tiger.
Heckler’s time in Oregon has not been trouble-free.
A Deschutes County judge sentenced Heckler for reckless driving and driving under the influence in 2016.
In May, he pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine and carrying a concealed weapon. Heckler is now on supervised probation through December 2019, and his sentence requires him to obtain substance abuse treatment.
Heckler said Thursday that he’s been sober for 41 days and intends to stay away from all drugs but caffeine and nicotine. However, he added that he doesn’t believe sobriety can be measured in hours or days because it’s a state of mind.
“I’ve been very discerning even while hopped up on drugs or alcohol,” he said.
Heckler lived in Bend from 1999 to 2004 and graduated from Mountain View High School, according to his candidate filing form. He studied culinary arts at Central Oregon Community College and holds certificates in culinary studies from Colorado Mountain College and nursing from Emily Griffith Technical College in Denver, according to the form.
In Denver, Heckler was one subject of a lengthy Denver Post investigative series on mental health. The articles describe him as having bipolar disorder and struggling with alcoholism and abuse of other drugs, primarily methamphetamine.
The Denver Post series followed him through losing his apartment, being kicked out of rehab, living in the woods and several arrests. Heckler said the story was inaccurate, but he wouldn’t describe errors.
“The story was far too exaggerated as to who I am,” Heckler said. “I intend to reverse what awful journalism has done to my name and make a positive spin.”
The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office and Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship didn’t find anything that would prevent Heckler, or anyone else on probation, from running for office.
“The only restriction I know of is if you’re currently under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections,” Blankenship said. “There really doesn’t seem to be any prevention under the terms of probation.”
To run for city office in Bend, potential candidates must be registered voters who have lived in Bend for a year, and they need to collect 150 signatures from other registered voters.
Oregon doesn’t allow people incarcerated for felony convictions to vote, but their right to vote is restored immediately upon release from prison, before they’ve completed parole or probation. Many other states permanently strip the right to vote from people convicted of felonies, enforce a waiting period following release from prison or require felons to petition the state government to regain their voting rights.
Other candidates for mayor are Mayor Pro Tem Sally Russell, City Councilor Bill Moseley and Bend residents Charles Baer and Brian Douglass. Mayor Casey Roats, Bend resident Ron “Rondo” Boozell and Central Oregon Community College Director of Student Life Andrew Davis intend to run for City Council.
— Reporter: 541-633-2160; firstname.lastname@example.org