Justin Livingston and Ron Boozell make for an interesting contrast for voters. One is a soft-spoken conservative with a limited political background. The other is a forceful libertarian activist whose passion can barely be controlled when extrapolating on policy discussions.
Livingston is running on a fiscally conservative platform that decries the lack of affordable housing, the poor conditions of our roads and wasted money on special elections. And yet, when asked for where additional government funds might come from, his response, unfortunately, is disbelief about the existing funding gap and staunch anti-tax rhetoric circulating around the failed gas tax.
On a positive note, Livingston has served on the Affordable Housing committee and his knowledge on that subject will be a help as the city navigates the Herculean task of making more affordable housing available in Bend.
Boozell has come a long way as a politician, from his last failed attempt to secure a City Council seat, but he still has a long way to go. Often times his emotion gets the best of him and fully thought-out policies are hard to articulate or understand. There is a marked improvement from the last go around, but to be a viable candidate for a City Council position there is a lot of development that is going to need to happen regarding his policies. Frankly, we feel Boozell will serve the community better as an outsider pursuing his activist role.
We are endorsing Livingston but with serious reservations about sending a candidate who believes that a city that is growing at our current pace can do so without increasing revenue through a mechanism like the gas tax. Hopefully the staff debriefing won't be too painful as Livingston comes face to face with city budget realities.
The race between Sally Russell for re-election and Wade Fagen, business owner and arborist, is a contrast in styles. Both are native Oregonians with a long history in Bend. While each brings a different approach to the table, both have a passion for the city's best interest. Fagan is a 30-year businessman in Bend. He runs on a populist platform of operating the city as he does his business. A onetime logger, he is a professional arborist and owns and operates Fagen Tree Service and Wood Chips. He's seen the city grow and understands its heritage. Many think he brings qualities that would help bridge the gap between the old and new Bend as the city continues to grow.
Russell grew up in the Portland area and moved to Bend, but has always had strong connections to Central Oregon. She has served one term and is deserving of another. It's also no secret she wants to be selected Mayor by her peers on the City Council now that Jim Clinton is leaving that position. She has served as Mayor pro-tem since January 2015.
Russell has a number of credits to her resume that have been good for the City of Bend. She served as executive director of the Cascade Festival of Music and the Cascade Cycling Classic, among many high profile positions in the private and public sector. On the City Council, she is known for her collaborative style—listening to both sides while seeking common solutions.
While Fagen brings solid qualities, they don't outweigh what Russell has accomplished in the private and public sector. By keeping Russell on the City Council, it allows her the opportunity to continue her work momentum while at the same time it provides the city some institutional knowledge on a City Council that could turn over four of its seven members.
There's no reason for the city to start from scratch with the many hard decisions it will have to make with burgeoning growth and major decisions impacting affordable housing, street maintenance, new urban growth boundaries, and climate change resolutions, to name a few. Russell has fought through all those issues, listened to countless viewpoints, encouraged collaboration and, in the end, voted with the best information available and in the best interests of Bend.
While many in the community are trying to make this election a referendum on the failed fuel tax last March—don't let them. It should be about choosing the most qualified and informed candidate. Sally Russell is that candidate.
Take a listen to an interview with Sally Russell the Source conducted last May: