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News » Local News

Bend City Council Fills Open Seat

Chris Piper, vice president of a marketing company, will fill the seat for the next two years

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The Bend City Council voted 4-2 on Wednesday, Jan. 16, to appoint businessman and registered Republican Chris Piper to the vacant council spot for the next two years. The position opened after Sally Russell became Bend's first directly elected mayor. The Council previously met Monday, Jan. 14 to tackle the issue, but was unable to come to a consensus about filling the vacant City Council seat.

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Of each councilor's top three nominations of candidates during Monday's meeting, Piper was only on Councilor Justin Livingston's shortlist. On Wednesday, Livingston moved to appoint Piper. Russell—who on Monday said she supported James Dorofi, Charles Allen and Kathy Austin—seconded the motion for Piper. Councilors Bruce Abernethy and Bill Moseley also voted to appoint Piper. Councilors Barb Campbell and Gena Goodman-Campbell voted against.

"I voted against Chris Piper because I did not think he was the most qualified candidate," Goodman-Campbell said in an email. "I was frustrated that the main reason my colleagues gave for supporting Chris Piper was to maintain the partisan ideological balance of council, when we are supposed to be a nonpartisan body. The values and priorities that (appointee candidate) Kerani Mitchell talked about during her interview were nonpartisan in nature, and as a nonaffiliated voter, I felt that she would bring a unifying presence to council that is much needed."

Goodman-Campbell said she's never actually met Piper, who was away on business during the interviews and video-conferenced the Council meetings. Goodman-Campbell said she spoke with Russell on Jan. 15, saying Russell encouraged her to vote for Piper at that time. Soon after that conversation, Goodman-Campbell said she received an email from a Bend Chamber of Commerce representative encouraging her to support Piper as well.

Russell said in an email that she supported Piper because, "Chris is a team player, and being part of a team requires great communication and active listening abilities, both of which I know Chris will bring to our dialog."

Abernethy told the Source that although Piper wasn't on his top-three list, he was his fourth candidate. He said during Wednesday's meeting, it became apparent the only candidate that could get to four votes was Piper, after Russell changed her mind on supporting Austin, adding that Piper originally scored so low because Moseley chose not to participate in nominating any candidates during Monday's meeting.

During Monday's meeting, Moseley said via telephone that he thought the seat should be filled by an election and that he would vote against whoever was nominated.

"My first inclination is that this is a decision and a choice that should be made by voters," Moseley said via phone. "When people run and campaign on particular issues in an election process, they run on particular issues, because those are the bread and butter issues that affect residents.

"I would rather ask the voters who they want to represent them," Moseley said.

Councilors' shortlists varied widely on Monday. Livingston said he would support Piper, Andrew Davis or Charles Allen to fill the empty seat. Goodman-Campbell said she supported Kerani Mitchell, James Dorofi and Austin. As mentioned, Moseley said at that time he wouldn't vote for any of the candidates—though he did eventually cast his vote for Piper Wednesday. Campbell said she supported Mitchell, Austin and Dorofi. Abernethy supported Davis, Austin and Mitchell, while Russell said she supported Dorofi, Allen and Austin. Combining all of those shortlists from Monday, that left Austin, Dorofi and Mitchell as the top three candidates.

While Abernethy spent much of Monday's meeting trying to distill the candidates down so there could be a vote, it didn't come to pass.

Campbell said she hasn't met Piper in person, either. She said part of her reason for voting against his appointment was the lack of balance between representation of the east versus west side of Bend. Voter registration documents list Piper's residence in southwest Bend.

"We ended up with Council dominated by people who live on the west side," Campbell said. "We missed on another opportunity to help with an imbalance that does exist."

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