The city of Bend’s change in form of government last year was supposed to give voters more choice and voice. But soon after the election, some Bend residents clamored the city got it wrong.
Their complaint: They didn’t like how councilors made the appointment to fill the vacancy created when Councilor Sally Russell was elected mayor.
Councilors responded by declaring earlier this year they wanted to tweak what’s called the city’s charter, again, to get it right. But at least one of the ideas councilors are considering — however well-intentioned — is problematic.
Sometime between Friday morning and Monday morning, a proposed charter change vanished from the agenda for this week’s council meeting. It would make a good story if there was some dramatic behind-the-scenes shenanigans going on. But apparently the discussion is just being put off because the accompanying packet of information was incomplete. The discussion has been moved to August.
The yanked idea is resign to run. It would require a sitting councilor to resign from his or her position if a councilor wanted to run for mayor in the middle of a term. A candidate may either run for mayor or councilor, under the city’s charter. But because elections for City Council positions are staggered and are not all on the same four-year cycle as the mayor, some councilors could run for mayor and keep their seats if they lost. If one of those councilors won, councilors would be forced to appoint a new councilor. The community would be right back into another potentially contentious appointment process.
The solution, though, could create problems as well. Forcing a councilor to resign to run for mayor could create another opening that under the city’s existing charter must be replaced by appointment.
A second proposed charter change would be to have councilors fill councilor vacancies by election rather than appointment. That’s the one that definitely should be on the agenda in August. Voters should choose who represents them.