Sisters is one of central Oregon's special places.
Few towns in the country have managed to fend off ugly strip mall commercialism so well. Sisters is frontier-themed, with a friendly down home artistic charm that keeps visitors coming back again and again.
We know Sisters well, since we're part owners of a cabin in Camp Sherman, about fifteen minutes away.
So it's been disturbing to learn that pro-development forces are trying to stack the five member Sisters City Council with three men who have close ties to the building industry. All around town you see billboards with their names, since they're running as a cabal.
A Bend Bulletin editorial lays out the basic issue in the upcoming City Council election:
The city of Sisters may face many challenges, but the divide in the race for City Council is over economic development. Five candidates are running. The three top vote-getters will join the council. And the five candidates are split into two factions about the city's approach to development.
Councilman Lon Kellstrom, business owner Pat Thompson and Jerry Bogart, the president of Steelhead Construction Services, are running together. They are convinced that city government is doing less than it should to encourage business. The trio wants a change in attitude to start at the top. And they want the city to take the lead role in recruiting more business into Sisters.
Here's our plea to Sisters voters: don't vote for these guys! Be smart. Realize how easy it'd be to lose what you've got, and what that would mean to your community.
People aren't eager to visit, live, work, or form a business in Sisters because it's like every other town. It's your uniqueness, and yes, quirkiness, that's the key to your long-term success.
Learn from the financial meltdown that's devastated this country. Greed and over-development pads the pockets of a few well-heeled fat cats, but it screws the average citizen.
I don't know all the details of the Sisters City Council election, but my wife and I are familiar enough with land use issues in our home town, Salem, to understand what letter writers to the Sisters Nugget (a weekly) are justifiably concerned about.
To the Editor:
It would seem wise at this time for the Sister's City Council to consider putting a building moratorium on future development until the current mess is cleared up and only consider those types of projects that are appropriate for retaining the Western theme and are within the ability of current services, ie. traffic considerations, sewer, water, etc.
The one that comes to mind is the Cyrus family's idea for a new destination resort. Sisters needs that like a hole in the head.
One reason folks like to visit Sisters is it's not like Eagle Crest or the surrounding Bend area. It's one of the last bastions of identifiable motifs in Central Oregon.
When people come to Sisters to visit a small Western style community, that's what they, for the most part, get.
To the Editor:
In his letter to the editor published last week in support of city council candidates Kellstrom, Bogart and Thompson, Grady Brown points out that building volume is dictated by market forces, not the city council.
True enough. But what Mr. Brown doesn't point out is that the policy decisions that control how, where and when Sisters will grow, such as the location of the Urban Growth Boundary and the make-up of the planning commission, are made by the city council.
One of the candidates running for city council - Pat Thompson - owns an interest in a large tract of land on the east end of town that is just outside the UGB. Several landowners who have interests in large tracts on both ends of town that lie outside the UGB have made donations to the PAC that is supporting the Kellstrom, Bogart and Thompson campaigns.
Time and again the citizens of Sisters have said that maintaining livability of the community is one of their most pressing concerns. Setting the policies that directly impact the livability of Sisters - including how, when and where Sisters grows and expands, requires taking into account the best interests of the entire community.
Brad Boyd has a long and successful track record of putting city and community interests first. Wendy Holzmann has worked tirelessly on numerous commissions and committees to maintain the livability of the city. A vote for them is a vote for balancing the interests of the whole community.
To the Editor:
The election of mayor and council members is as important to the greater Sisters area as it is to the city. The historic Western character of the town, the area's fantastic natural resources and the health of the environment are what attract both new business and visitors.
Let's not shoot the goose that laid the golden egg!
Brad Boyd has proven that he is a champion for the public interest within the City of Sisters and the surrounding area. His support for improvements in Whychus Creek, his leadership on the Sisters Trail System and his opposition to sprawl development, including destination resorts in the Metolius and Whychus basins, are all important to maintaining and improving our quality of life.
We need to re-elect Brad Boyd and not let the city be taken over by moneyed interests, represented by the Developer Three signage around town.
To the Editor:
This last issue of The Nugget Newspaper contained three large advertisements supporting the election of Lon Kelstrom, Pat Thompson and Jerry Bogart for Sisters City Council.
All three ads say "Authorized and paid for by Citizens for Sisters." In the State of Oregon Elections Division database you find out that the contributors and members of the Citizens for Sisters PAC are Bill Willitts, Chuck Hoyt, Steve Rodgers, Jim Bell and Curt Kallberg. Eric Dolson is the treasurer and appears to be managing the campaign.
Contributions from the list of players listed above are nearly $5,000. Talk about "buying" an election! This is big money politics in Sisters.
What's the agenda? What are the special interests that are trying to take over the Sisters City Council? As a starting point, this group of citizens are builders, developers and land owners, and the three candidates they support are builders, developers and land owners.
It is not too hard to figure the rest.
So, please, Sisterians, vote for current mayor Brad Boyd and citizen activist Wendy Holzman. After reading the candidates' views about how Sisters should develop, I don't see how anyone who loves this town as it is could vote for the three "pave it over" guys.
"The most effective economic development is to maintain the atmosphere and quality of life that makes this a great place to live," Boyd said. "We're never going to be the low-cost option."
Holzman said that she accepts that Sisters will grow and change, but she thinks citizens want to go easy on the throttle.
"People want it to be change that enhances and doesn't detract from what we already have," she said.
Amen to that.