Russell, 60, was first elected to the City Council in 2012, and she was chosen as the city’s mayor pro tem in 2017. She said she’s proven during her time in the city that she works hard and brings people together in a collaborative process.
“I see the mayor as somebody who creates a direction working together with the rest of the community,” she said. “My strength as mayor is to really understand the value of working together as a community, understanding that if we still keep these core values, we’ll still be a great place to live in five, 10, 15 years from now.”
From 1993 to 2002, Russell served on the city’s planning commission, where she worked on plans for the Old Mill District and Northwest Crossing.
“I have experience in planning and understanding when you make a decision today how it plays out,” Russell said.
The city needs to catch up on its transportation infrastructure after falling behind during a boom cycle during the early 2000s and in the 2008 recession, Russell said. Catching up requires identifying priorities, figuring out how much they’ll cost and then deciding how to pay for those projects, and the process requires involvement from people throughout the community, she said.
When it comes to the high cost of housing, Russell said she wants to implement three new policies: reducing fees developers pay for smaller homes, identifying the cost to live in a home and simplifying the city’s permit process by making sure each person building a home works with one city employee from start to finish. The city’s already addressing housing costs with a number of policies, and rental prices have stabilized, she said.
Neighborhood hubs that put amenities like grocery stores near homes reduces costs for residents by reducing the distance they have to drive and cuts down on traffic, she said.
Connecting homes to the sewer is a hugely important issue to some of Bend’s most vulnerable residents, Russell said. She said she wants to buy a lot of time to allow homeowners to connect, a policy the city council agreed to pursue last week.
“Getting the wrong solution in place too quickly could cost all of us,” she said. “One tool that’s viable for one family may not be viable for the family next door.”
The city can’t legally keep a portion of hotel tax revenue from being used for tourism, Russell said, but it can manage how the city markets to tourists. She pointed out that many of Bend’s amenities exist because of tourism, and tourists support the city’s police and fire departments through the hotel tax.