Bend will soon have its first directly elected mayor in decades. Among the six candidates on the ballot, Bill Moseley and Sally Russell are the best qualified.
Vote for Moseley. He has the best vision to lead the city as it struggles to balance livability and growth.
Moseley, 50, was born in Kansas and was the first person in his family to get a college degree. He went on to get his law degree from the University of Kansas.
In 1998, he founded GL Solutions in Bend, a software company that contracts with state government agencies. He was elected to the council in 2016. Among his notable accomplishments on council were his efforts to push it to extend Empire and Murphy roads.
The mayor of Bend will need to provide leadership to address housing costs, road congestion, livability and more. Moseley doesn’t have magic solutions. It’s his approach that distinguishes him. He wants the city to set targets and measure performance.
That doesn’t make the problems go away. It does create better focus and accountability for city government. For instance, despite pushback from other members of the council, he wanted the city to set a goal for more affordable housing and establish a measurable target.
The other critical difference about Moseley is his willingness to question city policies and assumptions. City staff have much more knowledge than council members on almost any city issue.
For staff, government is their full-time job. Councilors and the mayor are part-time policymakers. And staff do have their preferences and biases — the same as anybody else. Moseley has spoken up and complained about staff plans that seem based on the assumption that people in Bend should not be driving.
It was Moseley who made the effort to highlight that it is in fact city policy to choose more congestion over expanding roads in neighborhoods. It’s not that he wants to turn every neighborhood connector into a four-lane road, but he wants more options from staff to improve congestion.
Bend city government will go from one difficult choice to the next in the years ahead. Moseley is much more likely to see that the city explores more options and keeps after staff to provide better ones.
Russell, 60, has worked for both nonprofits and in business. She was, for instance, the director of the Cascade Festival of Music and worked in marketing for Broken Top. She has plenty of experience as city leader, having been a councilor since 2012. She also served on the city’s planning commission.
Her leadership would be about collaboration and building consensus. That’s what she promises and that’s what she’s delivered on council. It’s no stretch to assume that she would lead as mayor in the same way.
But the truth is that the way Bend government works, it has be about collaboration and consensus, no matter if the mayor is Russell or Moseley. There are going to be six councilors and the mayor. Each only has one vote. The mayor will have some power to set the agenda and to lead meetings, just as the mayor does now. That’s it.
Which candidate as mayor would make for smoother meetings and discussions? Russell, without question. Which mayoral candidate would push staff harder and demand more accountability from city government? Moseley. The choice for us is simple.
As for the other four candidates, they range from offbeat — to put it mildly — to people with some sensible ideas.
Charles Baer, 49, works as a security guard. Many of his positions make about as much sense as his claim that he is the former president of the earth. To his credit, he does advocate for the city to put more fiscal and budget information online immediately.
Joshua Langlais, 36, is a photographer and runs a website, acommunitythread.com. He admits he does not have much chance to win. But he has used the race to try to create a sincere conversation about how to get more people involved in their own governance and connect the disconnected.
Michael Hughes, 48, is an attorney who has been active in marijuana law. He is not particularly partisan and fairly knowledgeable. He should seek a position on the council before running for mayor.
Brian Douglass, 69, is semiretired and worked in marketing. He has advocated for the disabled in town and has a number of reasonable ideas. One is putting a multimillion bond on the ballot for the city to catch up in a number of areas where it is lacking — sidewalks, fixing potholes and so on.
Of all of these candidates, however, the one who will serve Bend the best is Moseley.