November 10, 2022
(BEND, Ore.) – Current city-council member Melanie Kebler has won the local election for mayor in Bend, Oregon against Republican candidate Chris Piper.
Before winning the race, Kebler served on the Bend City Council for two years. Kebler was raised in Bend, and after working as a victims’ rights attorney in Portland, she moved back to Bend in 2020 — the year she was elected to the city council — to raise her family, according to her campaign website.
“I’m running for mayor because I care deeply about our city, and I want to create a sustainable future for Bend. Years of public service, as well as my time already serving as your Councilor, have shown me that we need strong leadership in the mayor’s role to meet the challenges our city faces as we grow,” Kebler said on her campaign website.
Kebler received endorsements from several of her fellow city council members as well as from gun safety and environmental activist groups. But she had significantly lower political contributions than her opponent, Republican candidate Chris Piper, leading many to speculate her election was an uphill battle. According to an article from OPB in October, Piper raised $120,000 with 20% of contributions coming from the Realtors PAC, which is double the total amount raised by Kebler.
“It’s generally concerning that this amount of money is going into local races, and I do feel the pressure to raise as much money as I can to make sure that my message is not drowned out,” Kebler said in an article for The Bulletin.
Bend voters cited affordable housing as a key issue in this election. On Kebler’s campaign website, she said, “creating more housing, including more affordable housing, must remain a top priority for our city.” According to an article from local news outlet Bend Source, Kebler wants to address housing by focusing on middle-income tax exemption, while Piper planned to change land use policies to make development easier.
Piper, Kebler’s opponent, has been a resident of Bend for nearly 20 years. In 2019, Piper was elected to fill the vacant city council position. According to an article from local news outlet KTVZ, he then ran for city council again for a full four-year term in 2020 but lost to Megan Perkins.
While Oregon is a purple state, Democrats have held power as governors and city council members for years. These midterms were won on razor-thin margins, leading many pundits to speculate that Republicans have a fighting chance in the Beaver State.