Bend Mayor Sally Russell announced Monday that she is stepping down from her position as mayor and from Bend City Council, effective May 18.
She will resign at the end of the Bend City Council meeting on that evening.
Mayor Russell stopped by the Central Oregon Daily News studio Monday evening to discuss her reasons for stepping down.
“A lot has happened over these past three and a half years…we’ve had wildfires, we’ve had heat domes, we’ve had COVID and the pandemic, so to be a leader during this period of time has been a lot of work,” Russell said.
“My family sat down a couple weeks ago and had some really serious conversations, and I’m exhausted,” she added. “It’s been a lot of work and it’s been somewhat incessant and never-ending.”
When asked if the community can still expect to see her, she replied, “You’ll see Sally Russell again in some capacity. There’s so many ways for us all the time to contribute back to the town we live in and the community we live in. I could be serving meals at Bethlehem Inn, I could be working on forest fire resiliency…there’s so many ways I can participate in this community.”
We also asked her about the work she’s done on city council and where she believes Bend is headed in the future.
You can view her full interview above.
Russell said the decision comes after ‘serious discussion and deliberation’ with her family over the course of the past month.
“To the community of Bend, I offer you all a heartfelt “Thank you!” for the honor of serving you,” she said.
The Council will appoint a current council member to serve as mayor through the end of the term, which ends in Dec. 2022.
Council will then have 30 days to fill that councilor’s vacant seat through an open public appointment process.
Russell shared some reflections after her announcement.
“My job as Mayor has affected me and my family in numerous ways, as we have – just like you – navigated such huge social, environmental and economic pressures, and the effects of a pandemic,” Russell said. “Fires, smoke, heat domes, homelessness…so many historic changes in such a short time. I am simply exhausted. It is in my own – and my family’s – best interest to leave at the conclusion of May’s Council meetings.”
She said she will continue to search for ways to contribute to the community after taking a break.
She also said she was pleased with the thoughtful work accomplished through the work of city council, and thanked her fellow councilors and colleagues in the City of Bend and beyond for their contributions.
The announcement comes after Russell announced last month that she would not seek re-election for mayor.
Russell is the first elected mayor for Bend since 1923 and has served for almost two decades, including four years as mayor pro-tem and four as mayor.
You can read her full announcement below:
After serious discussion and deliberation with my family over this past month, I have come to a difficult decision.
So, as abrupt and unexpected as this may seem, I am resigning from Bend City Council and the seat of Mayor at the conclusion of the Bend City Council meeting on Wednesday, May 18th, 2022.
The Council, following the Bend City Charter and Council’s recently updated rules, will move forward with appointing a currently sitting member on the Bend Council to serve as Mayor through the end of the Mayor’s term, December 2022. Appointment of a sitting Councilor creates a vacancy in that councilor’s former seat. Council will have 30 days to fill the vacant Councilors seat through an open public appointment process, as required by the City Charter and rules.
I would like to briefly share some thoughts and reflections as I step away…
- My job as Mayor has affected me and my family in numerous ways, as we have – just like you – navigated such huge social, environmental and economic pressures, and the effects of a pandemic. Fires, smoke, heat domes, homelessness… So many historic changes in such a short time. I am simply exhausted. It is in my own – and my family’s – best interest to leave at the conclusion of May’s Council meetings.
- My goal has always been to make solid decisions for our community as a whole, and to look for ways to knit our community together. After a break, I will continue to look for meaningful ways to continue to contribute to the well being of our community; I anticipate most of those will be at collaborative tables where people work to listen carefully to understand and accept differing viewpoints, to find and support viable solutions.
- Today, goals, budgets and work plans have been set with this Council for this biennium. Work has begun in earnest on Wilson Avenue and other parts of town because of the historic Transportation Bond was passed under the last Council. The Bend Central District/CORE Area is now seeing redevelopment investment. I am proud of all the thoughtful work that has been done through leadership by the various City Councils I have sat with, together in partnership with City Staff.
- To my fellow councilors, I say, “Good Luck.” Every person in our community needs your strong leadership more than ever.
- To the incredibly talented and amazingly committed City of Bend employees, I say, “Thank you!” Your work is one of the key reasons Bend is such a state treasure.
- To my colleagues across Oregon and beyond, it’s been an honor to work alongside you, striving to make our communities a better place for all.
- To the community of Bend, I offer you all a heartfelt “Thank you!” for the honor of serving you. It’s been an absolutely amazing journey…and it’s difficult to express what it means to have earned your trust to help navigate Bend’s path forward during some of the city’s most challenging times. Please, please stay engaged and continue to participate in city governance, it’s the only way Bend will continue to thrive.