Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 71° Partly Cloudy
News >  Pacific NW

Mayor of Bend, Oregon, resigns, citing stresses of pandemic

May 9, 2022 Updated Mon., May 9, 2022 at 8:56 p.m.

By Andrew Selsky Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. – The mayor of Bend, Oregon, a mountain town that has seen a population boom due to its recreational opportunities and scenery, called it quits on Monday, citing stresses from the pandemic, wildfires and homelessness.

“So many historic changes in such a short time. I am simply exhausted,” Mayor Sally Russell wrote in an open letter. “It is in my own – and my family’s – best interest to leave.”

Bend used to be a quiet mill town, but after the lumber mills closed it revived as a destination for skiers, retirees and beer lovers – with the area having one of the highest per capita microbreweries in the nation. In recent years, homeless encampments have sprung up on the outskirts and some days the nearby snowy peaks of the Cascade Range have been obscured by wildfire smoke.

Just this month, the City Council announced it has purchased a motel near downtown to be initially used as a temporary shelter for the homeless.

Both Deschutes County, and Bend, the county seat, have exploded in population, with the county growing by 25% in 10 years, to roughly 200,000 people, according to a study by Portland State University. It’s the fastest-growing county in the state.

Some 100,000 people now live in Bend, with the population having almost doubled in two decades.

Russell announced last month she would not seek another term. A member of the City Council will serve as mayor until Russell’s term ends in December. She said her resignation becomes effective after the City Council meets on May 18.

“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,” Russell wrote. She asked residents to participate in city governance, saying: “It’s the only way Bend will continue to thrive.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.