Two major announcements came out this morning in the Bend mayoral race.
Outgoing mayor Sally Russell held a press conference to share that she will not seek reelection for the non-partisan position.
“After great thought, many conversations, and deliberation, I have decided it is time for someone new to take the reigns as the mayor of Bend,” Russell said in front of a crowd of surprised media and colleagues.
“Yeah, I was very surprised,” said Phil Chang, a Deschutes County Commissioner.
Russell was the first elected mayor for Bend since 1923 and served for almost two decades, including 4 years as mayor pro-tem and 4 as mayor.
“I have a lot of work that I put on the side during the time that I have been serving council so I’m very excited to spend more time with family and friends, work on those projects, and continue to work on those passions,” Russell said.
During her speech she referenced the city’s transportation plan, strides towards more affordable housing, and passing a resolution for Bend’s climate action plan as her notable impacts in office.
“I think the demands and responsibilities of city counselors, including the mayor, needs to be much more robust,” Russell said.
Russell said she has no plans for future political endeavors at this time.
As for the upcoming mayoral race, Russell will continue to watch campaigns before making any endorsements
“And at some point in time I will decide whether, and, or whether to, endorse any candidates,” Russell said.
“I’m so thankful and grateful for Mayor Russell’s work,” said Bend City Counselor Melanie Kebler.
One of those candidates, announcing their her run this morning, is Kebler.
“I have had community members in the past months who have asked about it and encouraged me to do it, and that was a big part of the decision to run,” Kebler said.
Kebler, an active attorney since 2008 and Bend High graduate, cites housing and homelessness as her prime focuses.
She is currently endorsed by all of the Bend city council members besides the outgoing mayor, Russell.
“I’m looking forward to a really positive campaign and I’m ready to talk about issues Bend residents care about,” Kebler said.
Other mayoral candidates that have already announced their run are Chris Piper, a former Bend city counselor, and Luke Richter, the leader of the Central Oregon Peacekeepers.
Those interested in running for Mayor or city council can file between June 1st and August 30th
The general election for said positions will occur in November.