Bend Park & Recreation District
Name: Travis Davis
Profession: Commercial insurance broker
Name: Ariel Mendez
Profession: Political science instructor at OSU-Cascades
La Pine Park & Recreation District
Name: Gary Gordon
Residence: La Pine
Profession: Retired attorney and owner of Fish with Gary Tackle Co.
Name: Deren Ash
Profession: Software developer
Sisters Park & Recreation District
Name: Peggy Tehan
Profession: Certified public account
Name: Rosemary Vasquez
Profession: Retired social worker
Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District
Name: Steve Webb
Profession: Madras Police sergeant detective
Name: Rob Galyen
Profession: Manager of Deschutes Basin Farms
Park and recreation board seats are up for grabs in four cities across Central Oregon.
In Bend, a commercial insurance broker is challenging an Oregon State University-Cascades instructor for a seat on the Bend Park & Recreation District Board of Directors.
Travis Davis, 41, an insurance broker at PayneWest Insurance in Bend who serves on the Bend Economic Development Advisory Board, said he wants to encourage more fiscal responsibility for the park district, and hold off on large projects so the city can catch up on other needs, such as affordable housing and infrastructure.
Davis lives on the east side of Bend and owns Ideal You Weight Loss Center near Pilot Butte with his wife. Davis said he would like to help that part of town get better access to trails and neighborhood parks.
“I hope to be a voice on the east side,” he said.
Running against Davis for the Position 1 seat is Ariel Mendez, a political science instructor at OSU-Cascades and board president of Bend Bikes, a group that advocates for more and better bike infrastructure in the city.
Mendez, 40, also serves on the park district budget committee and Bend’s Citywide Transportation Advisory Committee. Mendez said his background working with various community groups has prepared him to serve on the park board and help the board make sound decisions for the city.
“I see this as an extension of the work I already do in the community,” he said.
Mendez said he would like to see more of an investment in trails around Bend that can better connect to the many parks.
Looking at the park district’s five-year capital plan, only about 10 percent of the funding goes toward trails and most of that is for the Deschutes River Trail, Mendez said.
More well-maintained trails would lead to more people walking and bicycling to the parks, Mendez said. “Let’s build these fantastic parks,” he said. “But let’s think about how people are getting there.”
In La Pine, an incumbent on the Park & Recreation District Board is facing a software developer with experience working for nonprofits.
Gary Gordon, 71, who has served on the park board since 2015, said there was a lot that needed to be done when he joined the board.
Gordon, a retired attorney who owns Fish with Gary Tackle Co., said the board had a $75,000 budget deficit and its comprehensive plan had not been updated since 2005.
Since then, the budget has been balanced, and the comprehensive plan is up to date, he said.
Gordon said he is proud of the work he has accomplished on the board, but feels he has unfinished business.
A major focus for the park board is developing a 145-acre parcel on 6th Street that was donated by the U.S. Forest Service. It could host a variety of park-related activities, Gordon said. The park board is seeking grants to enhance the parcel without using public funds, he said.
“It is really good if we can bring some healthy recreational activity that improves the land and doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything,” he said.
Deren Ash, 38, who is running against Gordon for the Position 4 seat, said the land on 6th Street could be a perfect place for disc golf, paintball and cross country skiing. Those activities have active local groups who may be willing to help maintain the property, Ash said.
Developing those partnerships with local groups and clubs is critical for the park board, he said.
“I think it’s important to create a policy that streamlines the process and makes it easier for an upstart group to get involved,” Ash said.
Ash, who works as a software developer, spent most of his adult life in Maui, Hawaii, where he served on the boards of four nonprofits. He worked with a local search and rescue team, and three groups related to outrigger canoe paddling, a popular sport in Hawaii.
He studied computer science at Portland State University, and hopes his experience as a software developer can help the park board analyze its finances and data.
For the Sisters Park & Recreation District Board, an incumbent is facing a retired social worker for the Position 5 seat.
Peggy Tehan, 62, a certified public account at Campbell & Tehan in Sisters, has served on the park board for 10 years. Tehan said she is happy with the way the board is operating and working to grow programs in the city.
“We are a great working team,” she said. “We have a common mission and common goals.”
Recently, the overarching focus for the board has been implementing the funds raised from a 5-year levy that voters passed in the fall, Tehan said. The levy will raise more than $200,000. The funds are expected to make after-school programs more affordable, expand senior health and fitness programs and address about $270,000 in deferred maintenance projects.
“We made commitments to the voters of what we are going to do with those funds,” Tehan said. “It’s important to follow through with that mission.”
Tehan is being challenged by Rosemary Vasquez, who retired to Sisters after a long career in social work, family mediation and teaching in Seattle and Northern California.
Vasquez, 76, said she has been a frequent participant in the park district’s fitness classes and programs and has become familiar with how the park district operates.
“I really want to be a link between the staff and instructors and the board,” she said.
Vasquez said she brings a background working for nonprofit and recreational organizations. Early in her career, she lived in Hawaii and helped launch the Hawaii Big Sisters program, a mentor program for young children. Her experience as a social worker and family court mediator would also be a benefit to the park board, she said.
In Jefferson County, a farm manager is challenging an incumbent on the Madras Aquatic Center Recreation Board for the Position 3 seat.
Steve Webb, 48, has served on the board for six years. The Madras Police sergeant detective said he is motivated to help create more family-friendly activities in the area. Families can come together to watch their children play soccer, flag football or swim in the pool, he said.
“That’s good family time, and I think that’s huge,” he said.
Webb said he is pleased with the makeup of the board and the direction the district is moving.
The district hired a new executive director, Jim Weyermann, last fall, after former director Joe McHaney was fired for allegedly stealing money from the aquatic center and Jefferson County Kids Club.
Webb is facing Rob Galyen, manager of Deschutes Basin Farms, an 1,800-acre farm operation in Madras.
Galyen, 46, is also a member of the Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District and is on Oregon State University’s Central Oregon Agricultural Research and Extension Center Advisory Council.
Galyen views the recreation district as an integral part to the community, especially for the children who rely on the district for youth sports and activities.
He is excited about bringing new leadership and a new perspective to the board. In addition, he is looking forward to working with the new executive director on short-term and long-term goals.
“You have new management and the potential for a new board,” Galyen said. “Let’s see if we can get this thing turned around and make it economically feasible.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, email@example.com