The Bend city council is a non-partisan board, but be assured, it has its ideological divides. That's why the race for Bend City Council Seat 7 is so important this year. The seat has been held by former Mayor Oran Teater since his controversial appointment to the seat two years ago when the council deadlocked on a successor to Chris Telfer. Since that time, Teater has helped cement the conservative majority on the city council, a block that includes realtor Tom Greene, Mayor Kathie Eckman, and attorney and former Greg Walden staff member Jeff Eager.
It's our experience that they are all honorable and civic minded public servants, but don't hold your breath if you're expecting them to raise fees on builders, support a transit tax or rein in the urban sprawl that the city continues puzzlingly to push in the face of a total building-industry collapse. That's why we're recommending that our readers vote for Chuck Arnold, as he represents the most likely candidate to keep the council grounded in the middle of the political spectrum where it belongs. Arnold is well acquainted with the local political landscape having spent five years as the executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association, a position that he plans to continue in if elected.
While Arnold's opponent Scott Ramsay has been involved with BendFilm as a board member and a volunteer for several years, Arnold has the edge in civic involvement dating back to his days working on a community redevelopment project near his independent east Hollywood, Calif., record store. More recently, Arnold has served on the Visit Bend board of directors, the Mirror Pond Management Committee and the Bend Venture Conference, among other things. Arnold's position as the DBBA director has kept him straddling the public and private sectors, an experience that we believe helps him better understand the role of government and its impact on individuals' lives for better or worse. While Arnold's opponent Scott Ramsay brings a respectable amount of business experience (he and his wife operate the Sun Mountain Fun Center bowling alley and the Casarama home décor business), he is relying largely on his outsider perspective to shake up the way the city does business.
Like other conservative candidates in this year's election, he expects government to fundamentally change the way it does business, including paring back services and extracting strong concessions from public employees. That's an understandable goal in these times of austerity, but we're not sure that it's a realistic one. We prefer Arnold's more pragmatic approach to governance that emphasizes sensible solutions, such as working with fire fighters to form a new fire protection district that will relieve financial burden from the city and finding an independent source of funding for transit.
For all those reasons we're asking Source readers to vote for Chuck Arnold.