Bend City Council Candidates

Name: Barb Campbell

Age: 54

Profession: Owner of Wabi Sabi gift shop

Education: Bachelor’s in biology and psychology from University of Denver

Name: Ron “Rondo” Boozell

Age: 57

Profession: Unemployed

Education: No college degree

Name: Sarah McCormick

Age: 32

Profession: Stay-at-home mother, Pine Tavern digital media manager

Education: No college degree

A three-way race for a single seat on the Bend City Council includes a candidate who is in jail, an incumbent and a stay-at-home mother from an influential Republican family getting involved in politics for the first time.

City Councilor Barb Campbell is the sole incumbent seeking re-election this year, and her main challenge is from Sarah McCormick, a political newcomer who frequently criticizes Campbell as paying too much attention to national politics to focus on Bend.

Ron “Rondo” Boozell

Boozell, 57, has run unsuccessfully for the City Council and Bend Park & Recreation District board several times and frequently attends meetings. He’s in jail for failing to pay child support for his six children for more than a decade, and he’s expected to remain in jail through December.

Boozell spoke to The Bulletin at the Deschutes County jail earlier this fall.

He said he’s been campaigning and volunteering since 2010 to stand up for people, including those who are homeless and incarcerated, who often aren’t heard at the city level.

He believes his experiences in jail — he was jailed in 2017, also for not paying child support — have made him a better candidate, as has his experience being homeless.

Most people who are homeless in Bend are here because Bend is their home, Boozell said.

He said the city should make sure it has a dedicated cold-weather shelter for its homeless residents and steers clear of restrictions like a law passed in Portland, and later declared unconstitutional, that prohibited people from sitting or lying on sidewalks.

“We cannot make the mistakes Portland has made,” Boozell said. “We need to acknowledge that the homeless community are not just bums and vagrants and transients.”

Bend should encourage more types of housing, Boozell said. One idea he’s most excited about is allowing group living, such as art colonies, in industrial areas.

He said Mirror Pond should not be dredged and should be allowed to return to the river it was before Pacific Power built the dam that created the pond.

“Everyone is saying that Mirror Pond is an icon,” Boozell said. “Mirror Pond’s been there for 100 years. The Deschutes River’s been there for thousands.”

Barb Campbell

Campbell, 54, was elected to the City Council in 2014. Her 27 years living in Bend, nearly 10 years running the Wabi Sabi gift shop downtown and four years on the City Council make her the most experienced candidate in the race, she said.

“People need someone who understands the playing field,” Campbell said.

All politics is local politics, Campbell said, and she’s changed how she interacts with Rep. Greg Walden since she was elected to the City Council. Now, she only asks questions about issues — like infrastructure funding — that directly relate to city business, she said.

When Campbell took office, she said the city’s housing crisis was like a hemorrhaging patient, and the city was able to stop that hemorrhaging by approving apartment permits. Now, she said the next goal is single-family attached homes like duplexes, condos and townhomes that allow people to purchase homes at lower costs and build wealth and equity.

When it comes to homelessness, Campbell said she’s pushing for housing-first models, including tiny homes. She said she also supports the idea of maintained camping areas that allow people who don’t want to live in homes to live safely. Funding for these projects should come from the federal government through Community Development Block Grants, she said, but supporting them will take cooperation from all levels of government.

“We’ve got to accept that this problem is larger than any one city,” she said. “We’re not being descended upon by these folks. They are us. They’re our own kids, our own family, our own future employees.”

No public taxpayer funds should pay for dredging Mirror Pond, she said. A private group owns the land under the pond, Pacific Power owns the dam that created it and the park district manages parks, so there is no role for the city, Campbell said.

She said Visit Bend should consider shifting where it advertises to draw more tourists from cities that are cheaper to live in than Bend so tourists aren’t as likely to move to Bend and drive up housing costs. The marketer also should show tourists using bikes and shuttles to make it clear that they don’t have to drive in Bend and add to congestion.

Sarah McCormick

McCormick, 32, is a stay-at-home mother who manages social media for the Pine Tavern, the downtown Bend restaurant her father — restaurateur and former U.S. ambassador to New Zealand Bill McCormick, a longtime Republican donor — bought in 2014.

When they moved to Bend, McCormick and her husband lived in an apartment over Pine Tavern, and she said encounters with homeless people in the area led her to make homelessness a key part of her campaign.

“After having lived where we lived, we had quite a few run-ins with super-agressive homeless people,” she said. “I came from Portland, and I watched Portland turn into a city that I don’t recognize anymore, and I just think it’s a problem that needs to be tackled. It still can be here.”

She said she wants to start a working group with nonprofits that deal with homeless issues, business owners and residents that can find solutions to homelessness.

A version of this exists in the Homeless Leadership Coalition, a tri-county group that includes representatives from local governments, service organizations and individuals.

McCormick said she supports county efforts to establish a 24-hour crisis center for people dealing with mental health crises or who need help coming down from drugs or alcohol, but she’s not sure if the city should contribute funding. She said she does not support Campbell’s idea of establishing a tiny home village for homeless residents.

“It’s failed in so many other cities,” she said. “They become places of overdoses, public health issues and crime in the neighborhoods surrounding, and it also becomes a destination for homeless in other parts of the state.”

She said Mirror Pond should be dredged, and she wants to see what funding suggestions a city committee comes up with to pay the $6.7 million cost of dredging. Because the Pine Tavern is along Mirror Pond, McCormick said she would recuse herself from votes on the pond if necessary.

The city should not reduce the money it spends on tourism marketing, she said. She said she’s open to hearing ideas about shifting some marketing funds to building a facility like a performing arts center if it becomes a tourist attraction.

McCormick describes herself as the nonpartisan candidate in the race and Campbell as an activist who focuses too much on national politics.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com

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