Six candidates are vying for seats on the Bend Park & Recreation District board this May, and they cite a variety of reasons for seeking election.
The board will oversee projects paid for with the $29 million bond that voters narrowly approved in November, and some candidates said they want to be involved in this work. One candidate said he was concerned that park officials and others involved in planning the future of Mirror Pond had ignored the option of removing the dam that created the pond.
A couple of candidates said the park district should do more to respond to complaints by the United Senior Citizens of Bend, a nonprofit group that helped pay for the senior center a decade ago and now wants the money returned because its members say the park district changed the focus of the senior center.
Four positions are up for election on the five-person board, and two of the races are uncontested. Two candidates, Gregory Delgado and Gary Robertson, will appear on the ballot but they are not actively campaigning. The two men decided not to seek election after it was too late to officially withdraw from the race. Delgado filed to run for position 3, which Scott Asla is also seeking. Robertson filed to run for seat 5, for which Craig Chenoweth and Justin Gottlieb are actively campaigning.
A look at the candidates:
Daniel Fishkin said he is running for election to the park board for the same reason his family moved to Bend in 2008: quality of life. “I think parks and rec is the foundation and the cornerstone for a lot of that,” Fishkin said. Fishkin has experience serving on the park board. Other board members appointed Fishkin to fill a vacancy in January, after former board member Dallas Brown resigned in order to take an extended trip through South and Central America.
Fishkin said his experience as a corporate lawyer makes him a good candidate for the board. “I can combine my love of the outdoors with my business background and experience to help run what is really a business, but which is vital to the quality of our life in town,” Fishkin said. “I think it’s very, very important that the bond measure now be executed properly in terms of what the voters approved ... so we are delivering on the promises that the people who voted for the bond measure and those facilities are counting on.”
Foster Fell said he is running for election to the park board because he is concerned the district is not adequately engaging the public in decisions. For example, Fell said a questionnaire the district helped pay for about residents’ views on Mirror Pond did not address the option of returning the pond to a free-flowing river.
“It only referred to dam removal obliquely,” Fell said. “I feel that one of the main factors in a successful project is to restore health to the watershed, and I think the Mirror Pond impoundment is so damaging in so many ways to habitat.” Fell said he was also disappointed the district did not participate in mediation with the United Senior Citizens of Bend.
Scott Asla is running unopposed for a second term, although Gregory Delgado will also appear on the ballot for position 3. Asla is seeking election because he is passionate about the district’s programs and wants to oversee implementation of the bond measure during another four-year term, according to his statement in the voter’s pamphlet.
“My background in owning and operating a small business in Central Oregon as well as my service on other local boards, give me a unique insight to the challenges and opportunities that exist in Bend,” Asla wrote. Asla owns S & S Auto Parts in La Pine.
Ted Schoenborn is also running unopposed for his third elected term on the board. Schoenborn has served on the board since he was appointed to finish a departing member’s term in 2003.
In a statement in the voter’s pamphlet, Schoenborn said he has fulfilled several promises from his first campaign: that the district would acquire park land when it became available, continue to develop neighborhood parks, develop new athletic fields and partner with other groups for fundraising and activities to improve quality of life.
“Responsible budgeting has made this possible,” Schoenborn wrote.
Craig Chenoweth said his family’s participation in parks programs is part of the reason he is seeking election to the park board.
“Once my kids started doing the park and rec programs, I think it heightened my awareness of what parks and rec really did and the services that they provided from A to Z,” Chenoweth said.
His 7-year-old daughter has participated in a variety of programs. Chenoweth said he also has the government and planning experience to increase coordination between the park district and other local government agencies, and to help the park district work with Oregon State University Cascades Campus as the institution expands into a four-year college.
“I bring experience to the table that could help to further foster partnerships between parks and rec and some of the other agencies in the community, which would allow park and rec to be at the table for vital decisions that are being made,” Chenoweth said.
Chenoweth said he sought the advice of city attorneys on whether he could serve on the park board while working for the city. On the attorneys’ advice, Chenoweth said he would be careful not to be involved in city decisions on park district planning applications. As for park board votes that relate to the city, “I’d have to recuse myself if there was any conflict of interest,” Chenoweth said.
Justin Gottlieb said his qualifications for a position on the board include a master’s degree in public administration and familiarity with the park district.
“I’ve been watching this government for the last two years,” Gottlieb said. The park district is generally operating well, Gottlieb said, but he is concerned about how the district has responded to the public on a couple of issues. Gottlieb said the park district did not adequately respond to people who wanted a skateboard park at the new Miller’s Landing Park to be completed this summer along the Deschutes River near Colorado Avenue. Gottlieb said the district should also have better communicated with the United Senior Citizens of Bend.
“I’m attempting to bring (a) new voice to the table,” Gottlieb said. “One of the things I’ve been campaigning on is having office hours sometimes before board meetings.”
May 21 election
Occupation: Respiratory care practitioner
Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology from Portland State University, bachelor’s degree in soil science from Oregon State University, associate’s degree in Respiratory Therapy from Mt. Hood Community College
Experience: Organized a community garden in Burns, organized town halls on statewide tax measures 30 and 31, regular participant in Friday Peace Vigil, which collects survival items and money for Central Oregon Veterans Outreach, member of Central Oregon Health Care for All, volunteer for Trap Free Oregon and an advocate for effective, sustainable, cost-effective Canada goose population management.
Family: Married, teenage son
Education: Bachelor’s degree in theater, Brooklyn College; master’s of fine arts in theater, City University of New York; juris doctor, Brooklyn Law School
Experience: Member of the Bend Park & Recreation District budget committee 2008-2011; member of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team 2010-present
Family: Married, three children
Occupation: Owns S & S Auto Parts in La Pine
Education: Studied business administration, marketing and psychology at Portland State University
Experience: Member of the Bend Park & Recreation District budget committee 2003-2004; board member of the Bend Park & Recreation District board, appointed to a 2002-2003 term and elected in 2008.
Family: Married, two children, two grandchildren
Occupation: Retired, formerly a technology transfer coordinator for the U.S. Public Health Service; Trustee.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Montana, master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University, six post-graduate semesters studying management at the University of California, Irvine
Experience: Chair, Fort Mitchell, Ky. Park Board, 1981-1999; member of the Bend Park & Recreation budget committee, 2001-2003, member of the Bend Park & Recreation District board, 2003-present.
Family: Married, two children
Occupation: Development Services Coordinator for the city of Bend; previously worked on public involvement for light rail projects at Metro regional government and as a transportation research specialist for the City of Portland.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, University of Oregon
Experience: Served as staff member and advisor to a variety of committees, boards and councils including the City of Bend, Metro regional government and City of Portland.
Occupation: Civic activist and grassroots organizer with Working America, clerk at K-Market 2008-2010, previously owned Gottlieb Strategic Marketing in Portland
Education: Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Trinity College, master’s degree in public administration from Portland State University Hatfield School of Government
Experience: Constituent service representative for former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, 1999-2000, marketing intern for TriMet, 2001.
Coverage leading up to the election is at www.bendbulletin.com/election2013