Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Whatcha Doing, Candidate? Lisa Seales for City Council Pos. 6

Posted By on Tue, Sep 23, 2014 at 12:46 PM

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Source Weekly: What is your age, occupation and political affiliation?
Lisa Seales: I just turned 38. I’m an educator and researcher. I consider myself an independent, as I don’t tend to vote the party lines, but I’m a registered Democrat so I can vote in the primaries.

SW: How long have you lived in Bend?
LS: Though I’m a native Oregonian (I was raised in Eugene) I moved to Bend four years ago, thinking I’d stay for 3-6 months to carry out research for my dissertation, but I fell in love with the city and decided to make it my home. 

SW: Why do you want to be a City Councilor?
LS: I’ve dedicated my career and education to balancing conservation and development. Armed with my Ph.D., I think serving on the City Council is an ideal place to use my skills, experience, and education to make a positive contribution to my community.

SW: How many City Council meetings have you attended in the past year?
LS: Two council meetings and two UGB meetings, but I’m just getting started. I attended nearly every meeting of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board for four years when I was working on my dissertation. I’m actually a big fan of meetings (which is odd, I know), and I look forward to future council meetings. 

SW: Have you previously held a public office or participated on a civic committee?
LS: I served as the Co-President of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Florida. 

SW: Names three things you hope you change if elected.
LS: I’d like to be heavily involved in improving public participation in local issues, so everyone feels like they have a voice that can be heard. I’d like to improve transparency when it comes to decision-making by the City Council. Through participatory processes and open communication, I aim to increase citizens’ trust in local government. Also, in the wake of growth and change, which are both inevitable, I plan to work hard to protect all of the things we love about Bend.

SW: What’s your take on Mirror Pond, the UGB and vacation rentals?
LS: As a historic icon in Bend, I think Mirror Pond should be preserved in some capacity. However, I don’t believe maintaining the dam as it currently exists is the best solution economically or environmentally. Based on my education and career in collaborative water management, I am confident we can find a creative solution that preserves our iconic pond, includes fish passage and restoration of the river’s ecology, and won’t cost the city millions in continuing maintenance.

I think we can find a nice compromise between limiting extensive sprawl at the edges of the city (avoiding the pitfalls of other cities in the west), and utilizing existing lands already within the UGB for infill. Bottom line is we need more affordable housing! As a result of this UGB process I’d like to see a lot of different housing options in Bend, both for sale and for rent. Not everyone wants the same thing. Some people desire more condos or apartments and attached dwellings in the core of the city, so they can walk and bike to services, and other people want a single family home with a yard for the dogs and the kids, and are more than happy to jump in the cars to go to the store. We need to cater to a wide range of needs, while taking into account the cost of infrastructure as the city expands.

As for vacation rentals, I think they can be great, but obviously like most things, too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. To begin, I think we need stricter enforcement of permits. Permit holders who are in violation repeatedly should probably lose the privilege of having a permit. Also density is an issue. I don’t think anyone wants to see entire neighborhoods turned into vacation rentals while long term residents are pushed out with nowhere affordable to go. I think we can come up with a creative solution to this issue by examining how other cities have dealt with it and to what degree of success.

SW: Why are you the best person for the job?
LS: My Ph.D. research focused on water resource management through collaboration and partnership building, so not only do I have the knowledge and skills to collect and analyze information from a wide variety of sources, and think critically about issues, but I also know first hand the value of working together to accomplish goals. Additionally, as an educator, I am an excellent communicator; I am proficient at not only understanding complex information, but at distilling that information and making it easily understandable for a wide variety of audiences. I do not purport to have all the answers, instead I seek to listen to and learn from others, and be a voice that represents all Bend citizens.

SW: What’s the best and worst thing about Bend?
LS: In my mind, Bend is literally paradise, perhaps without a tropical ocean. It’s a wonderful city, with a small town feel, with incredible access to services, and it’s an outdoor recreational playground. In my mind the only thing it lacks, besides the tropical ocean, is ethnic and cultural diversity. Also, we could use a better transit system, and a lot safer bicycle routes.

SW: What’s your favorite band/musician?
LS: That’s tough to answer, there are too many to pick just one. My “favorite” totally depends on my mood. Lately, I’ve been listening to the Michael Franti station on Pandora a lot, because it’s so darn upbeat and positive, which is how I try to be, most of the time.

SW: What Simpson’s character do you most identify with?
LS: Lisa, of course. No doubt about it!

Lisa Seales is running against Ron Boozell, Casey Roats, and Richard Robertson.

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