Bend Mayor Sally Russell is calling it quits just five months before an election will replace her. Russell announced her resignation from the City Council on Monday, after nearly four years in office.
“I am exhausted,” Russell told OPB. “Mayors in towns like Bend are still virtually volunteers ... and so at some point it’s just exhausting trying to balance it all and to keep it all in play without much time to really recover.”
She said she wanted to be able to spend more time with her family, and to take a break from public office following what she described as a period of “unprecedented change.”
Russell has served on the Bend City Council since November 2012. She was elected as mayor in 2018, with a term that has been marked with controversies. She weathered criticism for her handling of an unpopular appointment to the City Council in 2019, as the Bulletin reported. In 2020, her response to a spontaneous protest against an Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest fueled backlash, especially from progressive voters who once supported her.
As accomplishments, Russell pointed to the passage of a major transportation bond in 2020, and to investments in redeveloping the Bend Central District.
Russell said in a statement Monday she intends to “continue to look for meaningful ways to continue to contribute to the well-being of our community.”
Her resignation takes effect after the May 18 council meeting, leaving an open seat just five months before an election. The City Council will have 30 days to fill the vacant seat by appointment.
Russell announced she would not seek reelection last month, around the same time fellow council members endorsed Bend City Councilor Melanie Kebler’s run for mayor.
“To my fellow councilors, I say, ‘Good Luck,’ Russell wrote in her statement. “Every person in our community needs your strong leadership more than ever.”
In Bend’s form of city government, the mayor is a city council member who presides over meetings and represents Bend publicly, while the bulk of administration falls to a city manager.
After Russell departs the City Council, her colleagues can opt to select a temporary replacement mayor from their ranks or undergoing a replacement process to find an external candidate.