Travis Davis, a commercial insurance broker, faces Ariel Mendez, a political science instructor at OSU-Cascades, for a seat on the Bend Park & Recreation District Board. Voters should support Davis.

Both candidates would likely represent voters well on the park board, but they would emphasize different things.

Mendez, 40, has been active in the community in a number of ways. He has served on the park district’s budget committee for the last three years. And he is on Bend’s transportation advisory committee, which is creating a transportation plan for Bend’s future.

Mendez, a board member of Bend Bikes, has been a consistent advocate to improve Bend’s connectivity for bikes and alternatives to cars. If elected, he would seek to encourage the park district to think differently about its trails and how people access parks. He wants the district to invest more money and time in trails as a way for people to get around town, rather than just as a destination. Trail spending is about 10% of the district budget, he said. He would spend more.

Davis is a civil engineer by training, owns Ideal You Weight Loss Center in Bend with his wife and has been involved with the city’s economic development advisory board.

Davis is not against people using park district trails to get around. Importantly, however, he is not focused on that issue. He would like the park board to think more about its role in the broader community in terms of services and affordability. In particular, he wants the park district to be careful how it sets system development charges, keeping in mind the affordability of housing. He believes the board needs to work with the district’s staff, but he also stressed the need to question and not allow staff to control the district’s agenda. That is a vital quality in board members. They are there to serve the community, not the institution. As a resident of Bend’s east side, he wants to be a strong advocate to ensure the district’s resources and programs are balanced across the community.

From what the candidates told us, it is hard to anticipate that they would act fundamentally differently on many issues before the board. But Davis openly asserts the value of focusing on the needs of the community at large rather than those of a narrow segment. That is a healthier approach for the district.