The Bend City Council filled two vacant seats at a special meeting on June 9, appointing Mo Mitchell and Stephen Sehgal to seats vacated by former City Councilors Rita Schenkelberg, who resigned, and Gena Goodman Campbell, who City Council appointed to the mayorship after Mayor Sally Russell's resignation.
Mitchell and Sehgal are two of eight finalists selected by a subcommittee of Bend city councilors. Mitchell is a mental health counselor who owns a private practice in Bend and is a member of the City's Human Rights and Equity Commission. They said their work in HREC inspired her to apply to council to make equity a priority, and that their time working in Deschutes County Behavioral Health gives them insight into working within systems of government.
"Being on HREC fueled some of my decision to be here today, really learning and understanding and integrating more the need for creating a greater sense of belonging for everybody in this community, not just certain folks," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said they aren't expecting to run for a full term this November, but may change her mind if they feels there's more to contribute. They likened the six-month term to an internship to learn more about City processes in case they ever does seek public office.
Sehgal works as a victim advocate in the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office, as a youth football coach at Pilot Butte Middle School and also serves as a board member on HREC. He grew up in Bend and his parents used to own what's now called the Wall Street Inn. He said he was inspired to run to bring diversity to the council in perspective and representation.
"My motivation comes with wanting to be a part of this council is to give representation of a diverse community and someone that's not just diverse based on what I look like, but with my background," Sehgal said.
“My motivation comes with wanting to be a part of this council is to give representation of a diverse community and someone that’s not just diverse based on what I look like, but with my background.”—Stephen Sehgaltweet this
Sehgal said his work with law enforcement at the DA's Office and his degree in economics give him distinct strengths to achieve the City Council's policy goals. Unlike Mitchell, Sehgal is running for the seat in the November elections. Bend City Councilors Anthony Broadman and Barb Campbell said they'd prefer appointees who aren't running for the seat to avoid the implication that they've potentially helping an individual campaign.
"Last time that the council appointed someone, that person lost when they came to the general election," Sehgal said. "It doesn't matter who y'all appoint, not that it's not very important to continue this year out, but the city is going to decide who's next no matter what."
City councilors selected the new councilors via ranked-choice voting. Both interim councilors were the top pick of the majority of city councilors in the first round of voting. A swearing-in ceremony on June 13 formalized the selection, and the new councilors will attend their first regular council meeting on June 15.