In a race with no incumbents for this position on the Bend City Council, we find Ariel Méndez, a current member of the Bend Park and Recreation District board and a college instructor of political science, poised to meet the moment. A regular e-biker and an avowed supporter of active transportation, Méndez knows more about the subject than nearly any other local we know, and that experience and knowledge base can serve Bend well as it begins to usher in the first years of a multi-year transportation bond with plenty of dollars allocated toward active transportation.
Méndez's vision for a safer, more walkable and bikeable Bend aligns with the hopes and 25-year vision of this editorial board, and we'd like to see that vision have yet another champion on the council.
Candidate Sean Sipe is a knowledgeable candidate with a background in real estate and a love for the Bend he grew up in. He wants to see Bend become more of a thriving economic center with a focus on job growth—not unpalatable ideals at all... but ones for which Sipe didn't display the depth of expertise that we'd like to see from someone tackling such problems.
The same goes for the biggest issue of this campaign: homelessness. It's easy to say "we need to enforce the laws and prosecute crimes being committed in the right of way"—nearly no current elected official or candidate really disagrees with that in theory—but it's in the lack of any real policy positions or plan that we find fault with Sipe's approach. Like some other candidates in the Bend city races, he appears to be repeating the talking points of "we need to categorize each type of homeless person so we can stratify resources" that seem canned and lacking teeth. We believe more time in the political arena will serve Sipe well.
While it's not sexy nor always politically popular, Méndez understands reality: that Bend, like other West Coast cities, by court decree needs to expand shelter capacity before it can do more to address camping in the rights of way, and that building more affordable housing will help to alleviate some of the most glaring problems. But that also takes time. In this race, Ariel Méndez is most ready to lead.
Where you'll find them on a Friday night:
Ariel Méndez: Family movie night
Sean Sipe: Hiking, fly fishing or on a date night at Brother Jon's
Sean Sipe on Ariel Méndez: He appreciates Méndez's dedication to his cause.
Ariel Méndez on Sean Sipe: It's important for voters to have a choice, and he appreciates Sean giving voters a choice.
Editor's note: This version has been altered from the print edition to include the words "for this position" in the first line to clarify that there are no incumbents in this particular race and not on the Bend City Council as a whole. We regret the oversight.