Many have voiced concerned about the recent decision by the Bend City Council to appoint Republican Chris Piper to fill the seat vacated by registered Democrat, Sally Russell, when she was elected mayor November 2018. Indivisible Bend shares these concerns. The process by which the City Council came to this decision was not transparent and appears to be the result of back room deals. This is a complex and rapidly changing situation.

If you share these concerns, you have several options to hold the City Council accountable. We list these options at the end of this email. Below, we lay out the process that got us to this point.

To summarize:

12/6/2018—The council announced it would accept applications for the position. Bend Source Article

1/5/2019—The Bulletin profiled 36 applicants for the position. Bend Bulletin Article

1/8/2019—The council narrowed their list to six: Chuck Allen, Kathy Austin, Andrew Davis, James Dorofi, Kerani Mitchell, Chris Piper and Kori Sparks.
Bend Bulletin Article 

1/14-16/2019—After interviewing the six candidates, the Council members discussed transparency, creating social/political balance on the council, and appropriate representation. Interspersed with these conversations, the Council conducted a series of straw polls, leading up to the final vote, with the aim of narrowing the applicant pool to top three. 

Results of the first ranking: 

  • Austin (4)
  • Dorofi (3) 
  • Mitchell (3) 
  • Note: Chris Piper garnered only one vote.

Results of the second ranking:

  • Austin (4)
  • Mitchell (3)
  • Piper (3)

Judging from the two straw polls, Austin seemed likely to be appointed. Many were shocked when, during the final vote, four votes were cast for Chris Piper, a man with no governmental experience, over Austin and Mitchell, both of whom have experience in public service (see below).

Votes for Piper:

  • Sally Russell
  • Justin Livingston
  • Bruce Abernethy
  • Bill Moseley

Votes against Piper:

  • Barb Campbell
  • Gena Goodman-Campbell

Indivisible Bend has multiple concerns about this process, but specifically we are dismayed by Sally Russell’s changed priorities and values. We supported her campaign for mayor because she said she was committed to shared values of transparency in the political process, affordable housing in Bend, and inclusion at all levels of politics. 

Sally Russell’s top candidate in the initial two rankings was Kathy Austin, a woman with significant expertise in affordable housing, and yet after the final vote, she chose to support Chris Piper, a man who does not align with her stated values and was not on her top three list just days prior.

What happened? Why did Sally Russell change her mind?

From reporting by The Source, it appears that the Chamber of Commerce and also, possibly, the Central Oregon Association of Realtors, put pressure on City Council members to appoint a candidate of their choosing—Chris Piper. 

The City Council intends to swear in Piper at 8:30 am on Wednesday, January 30th. 

As Piper’s appointment will have a huge effect on local policy, Indivisible Bend is concerned about the failure of transparency in the appointment process and the undue influence of an organization (the Chamber of Commerce) that does not represent all residents of Bend.


If you share these concerns, you have several options to hold the City Council accountable

  • Join the community protest this Wednesday morning at City Hall prior to Chris Piper’s Swearing-In Ceremony organized by a group of citizens 
    • When: Wednesday, January 30
    • Time: 8:00 AM – 8:30 AM
    • Where: City Hall parking lot (710 NW Wall St)
  • Emailing all city councilors. Please copy the reporters working on this story as well as Indivisible Bend. (Emails below).
  • Writing a Letter to the Editor at the Bulletin and the Source.
  • Attend the public Q&A with Sally to share your thoughts about the process and ask questions about her decision-making process:
    • Host: Deschutes Democrats
    • Thursday, February 14
    • Time: 5:30 pm until 6:30 pm
    • Location: The Environmental Center
  • Finally, if you are interested in joining a working group designed to change the appointment process for the future, email us at

City Council Contact emails:


Indivisible Bend:

From candidate information published by The Bulletin:

  • Kathy Austin was a member of Bend’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee and now-dormant Arts, Beautification and Culture Commission, former city councilor and mayor of Sebastapol, California
  • Kerani Mitchell is a founding board member of Bend International School, team member of Deschutes Public Library’s Bend Community Conversation, designed a workshop for city’s Welcoming Week 
  • Chris Piper has no governmental or community leadership experience.

Indivisible Bend Steering Committee