On a "party line" vote councilors took Jodie Barram over Don Leonard and Robin Vora. The three candidates had been culled from a list of more than a dozen applicants for the open spot. It's one of five positions that has been or will have to be filled between November and January through election or appointment as part of an unprecedented turnover on the city council.
Jodie BarramAn accountant and former banker who has served more than two years on the Bend planning commission, Barram was recently defeated in a three-way race for an open seat on the council. Barram ran on a platform of community livability and fiscal responsibility and was backed by the green-leaning Oregon League of Conservation Voters. She also had the benefit of campaigning with city councilors Peter Gramlich, Jim Clinton and Linda Johnson who voted on Monday afternoon, along with Mayor Bruce Abernethy and Mark Capell, to put Barram on the council. Chris Telfer, who is giving up her seat in January after winning a seat in the Oregon Senate on Nov. 4, was the lone dissenter, casting her lot with Don Leonard, a former chair of the Bend planning commission who also ran for a seat on the council in the November election and was defeated handily by incumbent Jim Clinton.
Leonard, who was unable to attend the council's half-hour interviews with candidates before the vote, is considered to be a likely candidate to fill Telfer's spot in January. And several councilors had indicated that they would be looking to fill Bill's seat with a political moderate. And while some critics had attempted to paint Barram as out-of-step with the mainstream, she seemed to fit that bill a bit better than Leonard who has advocated for a dismantling of the city's Juniper Ridge economic development plan and told councilors on Tuesday that it was time to divest from the Bend Area Transit system.
Clinton took the opportunity to take one more political dig at his former opponent, asking Leonard how he would evaluate a candidate for a job if that candidate didn't show up to the job interview. Leonard, who spent more than half a decade on the planning commission took the criticism in stride, explaining that he had an important meeting with state health and safety officials in Corvallis that he couldn't miss, and pointed out that he had shown up by phone. Clinton backed off a bit, saying that he simply wanted to know if Leonard would be able to juggle his day job with the demands of city council.
While the city gave a thorough hearing to the third candidate, Robin Vora, his political inexperience was clear and his soft-spoken, intellectual style didn't seem to inspire city councilors who made clear they were looking for candidates willing to take a strong leadership role on issues. They also seemed less inclined to consider a candidate who hadn't put the time in on the campaign trail as both Barram and Leonard have recently done.
Going forward, the next appointment could prove pivotal. Three of the new city councilors taking office in January ran on pro-growth agendas and were backed by the building industry and Bend Chamber. Leonard, if appointed, would represent the fourth builder-Chamber backed candidate, giving the newcomers a majority bloc. The wildcard could be Peter Gramlich who lost an ultra-close race to Tom Greene, a local realtor. Gramlich said he has not dismissed the possibility of tossing his name in for an appointment.
Bend UGB Update
If you couldn't make it to, or through, the entire hearing, the city is holding open the comment period until the end of the day Monday, December 1. Comments can be submitted to DSyrnyk@ci.bend.or.us. Details of the plan can be seen on the city's website, ci.bend.or.us.