Candidate: Rita Schenkelberg
Office: Bend City Council Position #4
Opponent: Michael R. Hughes (R), Anon (Bubba) Walters (R)
Oregon League of Conservation Voters
Oregon Working Families Party
Central Oregon Labor Chapter
The Vocal Seniority
Q & A with Indivisible Bend
If you align with a particular political party, or abstain from choosing a political party, why do you make that choice?
Bend City Council races are nonpartisan and I understand the value in being endorsed by the Democratic Party due to resources and network opportunities. The values of the Democratic Party align with my values to center the needs of the people. Community is my first and top priority. When a party supports the humans that it was created to serve it shows a structure that works. The democratic party does not come without faults as the two party system does not allow for flexibility and I hope to bring a diverse voice to the party.
If elected to Bend City Council, what are your top three priorities?
My top three priorities are community, housing, and transportation. These priorities are very important to me because they encompass the basic needs of what the community requires to survive in Bend.
Community is centering individuals who have been under served by the local government and need a new seat at the table.
Housing is required to give the community stability and shelter. There is a lack of affordable housing in Bend which does not support the entire community's success. Housing includes sewer and other foundational requirements to live in a housing unit.
Transportation is how we get to school, work, and home. All humans should be able to arrive at their destination safely and be able to walk, bike, use transit, or drive a vehicle. The city of Bend, with the hopeful passing of the transportation Bond, will support the infrastructure needs to allow the community to commute safely.
How can Bend City Council affect equitable outcomes for marginalized communities? You can choose a particular issue like hiring practices, or legislation, or policy changes, etc.
The Bend City Council can move forward quickly with the Human Rights and Equity Commission. This commission has been needed for a very long time and will support the city in making decisions for the entire community. This commission should be compensated and have support, so that there are many different individuals on this commission. It will also be important for this commission to have a voice both in policy making and the division of fees being allocated in the future.
Hindsight is 20/20, what’s important is that we learn from our experiences. What lessons have you learned from Bend City Council's COVID-19 response?
Bend City Council could have moved more quickly on creating policies to protect the residents who live here and the workers who are exposed every single day. It is important for us to look at the effect on the community especially those most affected, which has been BIPOC individuals. We can then look at the economic impact and take steps to repair. The centering of the workers and humans most at risk will in turn support the economy, if we do the work to support them first.
What do you think Bend City Council should do in response to the recent event with ICE and Customs & Border Patrol creating terror amongst our immigrant community?
Bend City Council needs to have many conversations with the immigrant community about how to support them. Asking the community members who are affected should always be the first step, in addition to taking accountability if you make the wrong decision as a person in power. Next, I recommend we take the necessary steps to become a sanctuary city and learn more about how to protect our residents from ICE and Customs and Border Patrol. Bend City Council can reach out to resources in other cities to understand how their city councils support the immigrant community.
How will you represent the BIPOC community in Bend?
Systemic racism is present in all structures in society. Local government is no exception. As we review the policies that have been set and decisions being made, we need to focus on the impact these decisions and policies are making on the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) residents that live in Central Oregon.
This is a crucial conversation for the city to be having due to the policies and decisions impacting residents’ basic needs, such as water, power, housing, and transportation. These conversations need to include BIPOC voices.
One of the major shifts our city can make is for BIPOC individuals to have power in local government.
I will work hard to ensure that the entire community will have access to their elected officials and meetings with ease, not with multiple systemic and technological barriers.
The elected officials must be pushed to talk to residents and ask for feedback prior to making decisions at city council meetings.
I encourage our community to elect officials committed to anti-racism work and willing to apply diversity, equity, inclusion and justice goals.
As of today, which individuals or groups are your three biggest donors?
My biggest donor is a local restaurant owner, Erica Reilly, who was the first person to pledge a donation and one of the first people I spoke to about running for Bend City Council. Close family and friends, who have seen my leadership and believe in the work I can do, were quick to get behind the campaign both as volunteers and as donors. Most of my donations are coming from the community of Bend at an average donation of $83.
What brought you to Central Oregon? What do you like best about this place we call home?
I moved to Bend to attend graduate school at OSU-Cascades. I entered the graduate counseling program in 2015. Some of the best parts of living in Bend is the community I have built and the humans I get to serve at my job as a mental health counselor. I am grateful to be of service in so many different ways. I also love being close to the desert and being able to camp and hike often. I love the local businesses here in Bend and being able to support them and source directly from the place that I live.