Bend stands today at a major crossroads. Our city faces a period of crucial economic recovery, an intense climate crisis, and widespread calls for racial and social justice. All this while Bend continues to see record growth and an increasingly severe housing and child care crisis that puts our city out of reach for too many.

We have the opportunity this year to elect leaders who have the courage and conviction to offer bold solutions to our challenges and who will do the hard work to see them through. I pledge to be one of those leaders on our City Council.

I have served the public throughout my career as an attorney. In my years as a state prosecutor, and as a victim’s attorney with the nonprofit Oregon Crime Victims Law Center, I listened to the voices of people who had been through a trauma and I made sure their voices were heard in the din of our complicated legal system. I am prepared to be a leader who truly understands how to listen, and who will look to verified evidence and data as the foundation of my policy decisions about our future.

A proud Bend High grad, I know that what we’ve got here is something special. That’s why we must plan for smart growth that brings prosperity to everyone in Bend. For too many of our neighbors, life here is financially strained and unsustainable.

I’m not afraid to act boldly to address our housing crisis. When nurses, police officers, and teachers can’t find an affordable place to live in Bend, our community suffers. The city must allow more housing types in more areas of Bend, including homes that are affordable to middle income earners. Otherwise, more people will be priced out of Bend.

I believe it’s time to invest in the future of our transportation system, which has not kept up with our growth. I will prioritize safety and push for connected, accessible roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails for everyone to get around efficiently. I support the transportation bond and will make sure the oversight committee is made up of diverse members who use all different modes of transportation.

I will work to protect our natural environment, fully implement our Climate Action Plan, and create policies to develop a local green economy in Bend. Plans for our housing, transportation and energy future must be made in the context of our current climate crisis. Adaptation alone is simply not enough when our river is running dry, our droughts are fiercer and longer, and wildfires blanket our town in hazardous air. We must do everything we can to reduce our carbon emissions and fight climate change in Bend.

I know the importance of our local economy recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. That recovery begins with all people in Bend doing their part to contain the virus with masks and social distancing. I will advocate for smart, effective city responses to the changing data on local COVID-19 spread, as well as efficient use of federal, state, and city dollars to help local businesses survive.

Finally, our city needs strong leaders who won’t shy away from conversations addressing the role our city government has played in perpetuating systemic racism. When residents raise their voices to speak about their experiences and ask for change, our City Council must listen, learn, and then act. I will work to build trust with communities of color in Bend who are rightfully asking for fairness, dignity, and respect. It’s not enough to condemn racism. We must put actions behind our words. I will work to ensure Bend’s city government takes active steps to eliminate racism within our policies and programs.

I stand ready to work hard to move Bend forward as a bold, collaborative leader in Position 1. Please check that box next to my name when your ballot arrives this week. Thank you.

Melanie Kebler is a candidate for Bend City Council, Position 1.

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