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A panel of citizens will present the results of two recent community forums on local governance structure to the Bend City Council tonight and ask that a charter review committee be formed.

The two forums leading up to tonight’s presentation were sponsored by Bend 2030, the Bend Chamber of Commerce and City Club of Central Oregon and asked a central question: Does our current governance structure give us the best leadership possible for addressing our complicated population, housing, transportation and livability issues?

Held on Sept. 20 and Nov. 1 of 2016, the forums focused on offering education about charter review issues and collecting public input on the following three core questions:

  • Do residents from all parts of Bend feel represented by the current method of electing councilors at-large?
  • Is it time for Bend’s mayor to be elected, or continue to be appointed by fellow councilors?
  • Do city councilors have the right support structure and pay in order to do their job

The forums revealed a few key data points that will be shared with the Council tonight, including that Bend is the largest city in Oregon without an elected mayor, that residents living on the east side of Third Street have been dramatically underrepresented on City Council and City committees, and that the overwhelming majority of forum participants support some changes to Bend’s governance structure to provide stronger and more representative leadership for Bend residents.

The five community members who will present to the Council tonight include Brent Landels, Kathleen Meehan Coop, Bill Galaway, Richard Ross and Don Leonard. The five will share forum data, community concerns, many of the pros and cons involved in revising our governance structure and comparisons to other cities throughout Oregon. They will also share a letter of support from the Central Oregon Association of REALTORS for a review of Bend’s governance structure.

The panel will recommend the creation of a Council-appointed charter review committee, which may ultimately propose a city-wide election on these important questions for leadership of the City of Bend.

To accompany their presentation, a full report of all the data collected at the forums was released today. It shows that:

  • 65 percent of participants said the best governance model for Bend would be one at-large elected mayor, four wards that would each elect one councilor, and two additional councilors elected at-large, with 35 percent suggesting other models
  • 41 percent of participants said that the elected mayor should make a salary of more than $10,000 per year, with the other 59 percent of opinions split over lower amounts of pay
  • 46 percent of participants said that councilor pay should remain the same, at $200 per month, with the other 54 percent of opinions split over larger amounts of pay