Bend residents will get to directly elect their mayor for the first time this November.
Voters approved Measure 9-118 Tuesday to amend the city charter and shift Bend away from mayors appointed by City Council to directly-elected ones.
“As cities grow up that’s what they do. It’s about time Bend did grow up and start acting that way. I’m super excited citizens agree,” said Brent Landels, who sat on the city’s charter review committee.
Also on the ballot, Bend residents voted to remove council member pay from the city charter, which is currently set at $200 a month.
Bend is currently the largest city in Oregon where residents haven’t been able to directly elect their mayor. Instead, City Council appoints a mayor who then serves just a two-year term.
In December 2017, city councilors approved of letting voters decide whether they wanted to change that system. The decision came after a charter review committee endorsed the idea of moving toward a directly-elected mayor.
The committee argued the time was ripe for changes in mayoral appointments. Since the last full charter review in 1995, Bend’s population had grown from 30,000 people to 87,000.
More growth is in Bend’s future, too, and the committee argued council-appointed mayors left the city with a lack of clear, visionary leadership and weak representation at the local, state and federal levels. Others argued a directly elected mayor would bridge what some residents see as a divide between east Bend and the more-developed west side.
There was no organized effort to oppose the measure, though the Bend Bulletin’s editorial board published an editorial opposing the measure and a separate but related one that would remove councilors’ pay from the charter.