One of the most interesting and encouraging races for public office is between the four candidates to fill the place of departing Jodie Barram; each candidate is individually impressive—and, moreover, as a group, they truly represent the best that the city offers in terms of democracy and civic engagement.
Casey Roats, a fourth-generation Bend resident and part-owner of Roats Water Systems, is very knowledgeable about local issues, and articulate about what process he would like to see City Council use to make its decisions.
Richard Robertson is a longtime resident who works with an employment agency that places workers with disabilities—he, himself, has Down syndrome—and advocates for greater access in Bend.
Ron "Rondo" Boozell is an outspoken proponent for public interest issues, and a routine fixture at City Council meetings and events.
And Lisa Seales, who teaches at bothg OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College, recently completed her Ph.D. in "Collaborative Water Management in Oregon."
In no race in recent memory can we say we have seen democracy better in play, with a wide demographic represented, and a civil and inclusive tenor to the race. These four candidates truly have been gracious in actively listening to each other's viewpoints, and being patient and inclusive.
This is a tough decision. Roats and Seales differ perhaps most in terms of how to manage the UGB, with Roats advocating for its expansion as a means to create more affordable housing, and Seales holding the line to create more in-fill and controlled growth—and, notably, with both candidates backing up their philosophical differences with years of experience, one (Roats) in private practice and the other (Seales) with deep academic and policy knowledge.
The candidates in this race are well studied, and clearly focused on livability issues and affordable housing, with Roats saying, "Eastside development is under-discussed" and Boozell pledging to give a voice to homeless populations. Moreover, Boozell seems to be the candidate single most concerned about a public transportation system, which we agree is a pressing and under-discussed issue by City Council. But while clearly knowledgeable and passionate, Boozell's approach to addressing issues is often combative.
Overall, we believe that Seales will fill the leadership gap that departing Jodie Barram leaves. "I'd bring skills as a moderator," she explained, when asked about what she will add to City Council. We agree. This role as peacemaker is needed to create civil and productive decision-making in the next chapter for City Council.
Watch our endorsement interview with the candidates below.