Political science professor Ariel Mendez and real estate broker Sean Sipe seek seat
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend voters will find three City Council races on their Nov. 8 ballot with a total of nine candidates vying for the seats.
We spent the past few weeks asking each candidate the same questions and will feature their answers in a three-part series.
Sean Sipe and Ariel Mendez are running for Position 5, which has a four-year term.
Mendez is a Stanford graduate and political science professor at OSU-Cascades.
"The most pressing issue for Bend is affordability and housing is tied to that. I'm glad we're building but from my perspective we need to pay attention to how we're building," he said during an interview outside Larkspur Community Center.
As for what experience he'll bring to City Council, Mendez points to his work on the Board of Directors for Bend Park & Recreation. He also previously volunteered on a city transportation advisory committee and was board president of Bend Bikes.
"I feel like we have the opportunity to build neighborhoods close to amenities, close to schools, close to work. People can get around without driving everywhere and live independently. We have that opportunity in Bend and I don't want to let it go," Mendez explained as he outlined his vision for the city.
He asked voters to focus on what it's like to be in Bend day to day.
"I would say focus on quality of life, especially for children. Because if it works for children, it's going to work for everybody else."
Mendez's opponent is Sean Sipe, a longtime Bend real estate broker.
He grew up in Tumalo, graduated from Mountain View High School and attended Portland Bible College.
Sipe said he believes he would bring something to City Council that's been missing.
"I have heard time and time again for the last couple of years that the community voice is not heard and that the Council has been pushing their own ideologies with a lot of heart, but unfortunately that as left our town behind," he said.
Sipe says his work in real estate has given him extensive knowledge of city codes related to residential and commercial development, which would be beneficial while serving on City Council.
If elected, he says workforce housing would be a priority, but at the top of the list is taking on Bend's homeless problem.
"It has absolutely been decriminalized," Sipe said. "I'm not saying we should make homelessness a crime but we need to decide when and which people receive help and target our resources to those who genuinely use it rather than those exploiting the system in place."
His plan calls for categorizing the homeless population into those committing crimes, those who want help finding a way out, veterans and those with mental health issues.
Those looking to rebuild their lives would be first for support and financial assistance.
"I want to make sure our community is represented, and I want to focus on the health, safety and wellbeing of our town - that's the job of City Council," he concluded.