Bend City Council candidates debate hot issues

Growth, budgets and more

Bend city council debate

BEND, Ore. - The Central Oregon Association of Realtors held a Bend City Council debate on Monday night, and much of the talk focused on the three big topics of the night: affordable housing, growth and infrastructure.

But actual conversation varied, as questions were asked to to candidates, they proposed their own questions.

In front of a full audience, things heated up between candidates. A room full of smiles and sandwiches quickly grew less friendly and more tense as candidates debated the very hot topics in the growing city.

There were several debates between candidates seeking different positions.

First, candidate Justin Livingston, running against Ron Boozell. One of the issues they discussed was the poor condition of roads in Bend. A tax solution was proposed by Boozell, as he supports a gas tax (though he didn't back the March special election where a gas tax proposal failed)..

"Some of you know that I've been holding the banner high for a new tax " he said, "which is a really uncomfortable position for me, because I'm a Libertarian-minded thinker, and I've never even voted for a tax before. But we have solutions in front of us. The problem is, right now a lot of people aren't talking about it because they think its been put to bed." 

Livingston said the council is already fixing part of the problem with the current budget cycle.

"We looked at a lot of different things. We actually raised added $3.5 million to the budget, to start making improvements on our roads," he said. "Realistically, we need $4.3 million in order to just maintain the current conditions of the roads.This budget cycle, we have $5.2 million, so we are actually improving the roads."

Moving on to the next debate, one of the topics discussed was city budgeting.

Bill Moseley questioned the city council's use of funds.

"As a small business owner, if I'm going to pay someone employee benefits plus a salary of over $150,000, I expect them to be able to levitate or be one hell of a salesperson, one or the other, We just don't get our money's worth for it," Moseley said.

Councilor Doug Knight, who drew shouts from the audience for claiming Moseley wants to cut police or fire funding, brought up what he sees as positives regarding Bend's current funding and tax system.

"We don't have an extraordinary high tax structure," he said. "That's something that I think we can be proud of , meaning that we're getting more money deployed within our community for a lower taxation rate. But let's be clear, we still have limited funds."

The last two-candidate debate was between councilor Sally Russell and opponent Wade Fagen. The challenger voiced his frustration with Bend's infrastructure management, specifically the construction on Reed Market Road.

"We put in curbs, and then put curb cuts in the curbs," Fagen said. "This is ridiculous. I  want to skewer the nonsense. and that's the kind of leadership that has just not been happening on our city council.".

Russell reminded voters the majority voted to reconstruct the road.

"I want to remind you that sometime before 2012, when I was elected, the electorate had the choice to vote a general obligation bond up or down," she said. "And there were many projects throughout the city of Bend, including Reed Market Road, which is an old county road, that the city had inherited, and we knew that we only had one chance of building it right."

Former Mayor Bruce Abernethy is running unopposed for the seat now held by Mayor Jim Clinton, who has decided to not run for re-election.

Oregonians have until October 18 to register to vote or change their registration in the November 8 election.

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