Should we vote for our mayor, or should the mayor be appointed by his fellow Bend City Council Members?
A charter review committee (see below for members)* met today to voice their opinions as to whether or not a directly elected mayor should be voted on by us, the community members.
Quick background: Currently, our mayor (who, since Jan. of 2011, is Jeff Eager. Eager was elected to the Bend City Council in Nov. 2008) is appointed by the City Council. To be appointed, you must already be a City Council member.
What the committee decided this afternoon is basically this: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. There are pros to having an elected mayor (potential for greater continuity and experience, potential to develop greater community relationships, make Bend feel more important, etc.) BUT the list of cons the committee put forward was much longer (mayor may not mesh with the City Council, mayor may have little/no experience, it would overly politicize the position--richest man wins, time needed for the position may limit prospective mayors to retirees, etc.).
In the end, it was decided that there was "no compelling reason to change the system to a directly elected mayor and that there are many risks in doing so." However, the committee will recommend that the City Council further investigate the mayoral position be "up to a four-year term."
"A four-year term gives continuity to the office," said Committee Chair Oran Teater.
In other (perhaps more interesting) news, at the same meeting I did learn about our Sister Cities. We have two (and the one from Japan is no longer our sister since it was absorbed or annexed or something by Toyota, Japan. Check out the two big rocks in front of Bellatazza for more on our old sister city). We do still have one sister city in Nicaragua and another in Italy — it's called Belluno and it's lovely (see picture above). North of Venice and in the Dolomites, it's touted as an outdoor-person's paradise. Check it.
*Committee Members: Ron Boozell, Suzanne Johannsen, Don Senecal, Mike Olin, Bob Thomas, Bruce Abernethy, Greg Fowler, Chuck Arnold and Oran Teater (Chair)