With four candidates running in the race for Bend City Council position 4, there's no shortage of knowledge, expertise and community spirit to choose from in the race. Among them, candidate Bill Olsen opted not to participate in our interview, so we won't comment further on his candidacy. Among the three women in the race—Barb Campbell, Karon Johnson and Erlin Taylor—we find no serious concerns around any of them serving on the Bend City Council. That said, we set a high bar when opting not to re-elect a sitting councilor. With the rest of the council members possessing less than a full term of experience, re-electing Barb Campbell just makes sense.
Campbell has a great deal of institutional knowledge of the processes and reasons for past council decisions, and because we believe the current council has set Bend on a path toward correcting some of the most salient problems—housing and homelessness—we face today, we need that experience on the council. She's quirky, to be sure, but Campbell is also fluent in the issues.
In Taylor, the owner of a property management company in Oregon City who built her business from the ground up, we find a relatively new resident of Bend who appears to care about her community. We'd like to see her get involved in a committee or in another fashion in local politics to help her refine some of the ideas that presently just seem too unformed to justify having her best Campbell in this race. Running on the premise of "vote for me if you want a change" just isn't enough.
In Johnson, we find a more invested public servant who has certainly dug into the issues. Ahead of the interview, she presented us with a 12-page white paper on the biggest issues facing Bend. As a former federal prosecutor and a former member of the Bend Planning Commission who's also championed tree preservation in Bend, her experience and background certainly make her a qualified candidate. But on the topic of shelters, we find her position too extreme—advocating for only high-barrier shelters rather than a mix of services to fit the needs of a varied homeless population in the area. Johnson does her homework and would work hard on the council, we have no doubt about that, but we find her approach more combative and less collegial, and Campbell's position on advocating for our houseless neighbors just more humane and realistic.
Voters have a great slate of candidates in this race, and we trust that whoever gets elected will serve the community well. But experience does count, and in this race, our endorsement goes to Campbell.
Barb Campbell on Erlin Taylor: She appreciates that Erlin is a small business owner who creates jobs.
Barb Campbell on Karon Johnson: She appreciates Karon's love for animals and her past service on the planning commission.
Erlin Taylor on Barb Campbell: She appreciates Barb's service to her community.
Erlin Taylor on Karon Johnson: She appreciates Karon's passion.
Karon Johnson on Barb Campbell and Erlin Taylor: They're good, honest, decent, well-meaning people.
Where you'll find them on a Friday night:
Erlin Taylor: Conversing with neighbors, walking the dogs, having dinner downtown
Karon Johnson: Skiing or other outdoor activities
Barb Campbell: Walking her three dogs and talking to neighbors