Bend is at a crossroads. Rapid growth, skyrocketing housing prices, crumbling roads and limited (though growing) financial resources require the City Council to think and act strategically. Unfortunately, the current council fails to approach Bend’s big issues with a focused plan. I am running for City Council to help change that.
For more than 20 years as the founder and CEO of a Bend software startup company, GL Solutions, I’ve applied my ability to formulate strategies, make plans and accomplish objectives to grow. Strategic focus helps organizations grow by focusing limited money, time and energy on achieving the mission. The saying, “I can do anything except everything,” is a motto business owners ignore at their peril.
We need the same strategic focus at city hall. Bend’s government employs many talented people, but they can only do so much. The City Council must focus our limited staff on the most important goals, and avoid distractions, which take us off course from the mission of the city. Chasing the narrow interests of a small number of people who attend council meetings, or of special interest groups, means less bandwidth to tackle the big items.
Just like a business, getting things done in government depends upon the goodwill of people. A business only exists to the degree that it maintains trust with customers. Similarly, residents need to trust their government officials to accomplish what they promised to accomplish. Goodwill, like staff resources and money, represents a limited asset; once squandered, it is gone forever.
Instead of staying strategically focused on our problems, the City Council acts on the issue of the day — wasting the goodwill and financial resources we need to provide solutions for Bend’s challenges. The biggest challenges facing our city include the affordable housing crisis, the miserable condition of our streets and the need for more diverse and better-paying jobs.
Too often the Council fritters away the funds and the goodwill of the public on less important or even counterproductive pursuits. Take the council’s botched handling of the gas tax vote, for example. The council first cut the amount of funding for street preservation, despite increases in the general fund revenue by millions of dollars. Most of the councilors, including my opponent, then argued for a gas tax to fund street preservation — all while having just cut funding for streets.
Even worse, the council bred mistrust by wasting $54,292 in taxpayer funds to rush the gas tax to a vote on March 8, despite the option of holding a free election on May 17 — only 70 days later. The gas tax lost by nearly a 2-1 margin. The wasted funds could have been used to fix streets. The wasted hours staff spent building the case for the gas tax could have been dedicated to finding solutions to our housing crisis.
The council’s recent squabble with the Bend Chamber of Commerce over whether the chamber should evaluate councilors on their small business support provides another example of unnecessary lost focus and goodwill. The city should, and does in many respects, work with the chamber to grow Bend’s employment base. But the councilors’ thin-skinned reaction to the chamber’s scorecard strained relations and demonstrated to everyone in the community that at least some on the council do not respect the opinions of residents and job creators.
We need a council that builds trust and goodwill with voters in order to accomplish the difficult solutions to our problems. By burning bridges with the community and spending time, money and focus on distractions, the council makes progress on our problems challenging. Bend deserves a City Council that maintains a strategic focus on the issues facing Bend residents. If elected, that’s what I’ll do.
— Bill Moseley lives in Bend.