I was in the audience at the last city council meeting and what I saw and heard caused me a great deal of concern.
I am very sorry to see city councilors Peter Gramlich and Linda Johnson depart. They brought a different perspective to the table and contribute to the council's diversity.
The newly sworn in councilors, with the help of departing councilor Chris Telfer, united to elect Kathie Eckman mayor. She has not been involved in the local issues in recent years and her past experience, which was touted in her favor, is irrelevant today. She is unqualified to be mayor.
There are two qualified people on the council and if the new councilors had our best interests at heart, they would have joined Jim Clinton and Jody Barram to elect Mark Capell mayor.
We will have five new and inexperienced people on council, including an unqualified mayor and only two who have experience and knowledge of the current issues facing the city. This does not bode well for Bend!
Unfortunately the voters of Bend were not paying attention and had little interest in the last local election as evidenced by the disparity of the number of votes locally vs. nationally. Voters were distracted by the presidential election.
If they had paid attention, they would have noticed that the three newly elected council members have big financial backing from the real estate, builder and developer community and greatly outspent the other candidates.
If the united front to elect one of their own mayor is any indication; we will have a divided council in the future. And if the appointee for Telfer's seat is also beholden to these same business groups, I don't have much hope for progressive action in our city.
The Bulletin is pushing Don Leonard for this seat and has done so every single time there was a vacancy. With all due respect to Don Leonard, the endorsement of The Bulletin makes me hope that someone else is selected. Otherwise the voices of Jim Clinton, Mark Capell and Jody Barram who were there before the hijacking, will be irrelevant since they will be outvoted all the time. I do hope that the council selects someone with a different perspective who is more of a centrist, to replace Chris Telfer. It would restore some balance to the city council.
This last council meeting on Jan. 7 was a poor spectacle and should be of great concern to all the rest of us who are not part of these particular business groups. This action makes it appear that our city council is being hijacked for the benefit of these groups.
It will behoove the rest of us to pay close attention to future council decisions and individual votes.
Hanne Madsen, Bend
Editor's note: This letter was submitted prior to the council's recent decision to give the open seat to former mayor Oran Teater who was sworn in Tuesday morning, breaking a month-long deadlock over the final position.