Bend Park and Rec Board candidates face off

Five of nine attend, address hot-button issues

Bend Park and Recreation Board...

BEND, Ore. - Several Bend Park and Recreation Board candidates addressed a gathering Tuesday evening, with many of the comments about maintaining and growing the city's lifestyle and amenities.

Two park and recreation board positions are up for grabs in next month's election, and while nine people are running, only five appeared at a public forum Tuesday evening, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Deschutes County.

Candidate Adam Bledsoe said he doesn't think the Bend Whitewater Park is worth the money spent on it. 

"It's an absolute joke, and I don't know what the solution is, at this point," Bledsoe said. "I think it's probably not the right thing to take it out and cause another catastrophe."

Overall, Bledsoe hopes to encourage people to get outside and work with the city on its needs. 

Lauren Sprang said she hopes to put a focus on expanding urban trails. 

"This winter, I saw people walking or riding down the center of the road either because there was no sidewalk or it was covered in snow," Sprang said. "I think that the park district can play a role in partnering with the city to address some of the transit options with urban trails."

The candidates also addressed the overall agreement that everyone in the park district should have equal access to all the and programs. 

Candidate Justin Gottlieb said he would focus on adjusting park system development charges, or SDCs, to force taller buildings and add needed housing. 

"The homeless, cannabis and working poor communities do not normally vote in the off-year, off-cycle elections," Gottlieb said. "Yet, that is the election in which we have the most impact in our community, and all voices need to come to the table."

Candidate Jason Kropf said the park district needs to be open to many different discussions, such as affordable housing. 

"I can imagine a process where we set criteria on how to evaluate affordable housing developments and figure out a way in which we can potentially make a meaningful contribution to alleviating the affordable housing issue in this community," Kropf said.

Candidate Joanne Mathew, a 14-year Bend resident, said she feels passionately about maintaining a long-term plan for future growth.

"I want to dig in and understand that it is something that will serve everyone in our community, whether it is kids, families, seniors, people with disabilities, the economically disadvantaged, or dogs," Mathews said.

They all said they would work to make sure parks and recreation programs are available to everyone in the community. 

The remaining four candidates, who were not precent, are Laura Boehme, Ron Boozell, Ted Schoenborn and Maureen Schlerf.

Ballots are due in the mail soon, and they'll need to be returned by Election Day, May 16.

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