Mental health counselor runs to fill seat held by Councilor Bruce Abernethy

Updated: Aug 6

Rita Schenkelberg seeks more diversity within the city of Bend



Rita Schenkelberg, a

mental health counselor, is running for the Bend City Council seat currently held by Bruce Abernethy.

Schenkelberg, 29, is one of four people who have filed to run for the seat, joining Kat Mastrangelo, the executive director of Volunteers in Medicine; Doug Spencer and Ash Cooper, according to the city of Bend website.


After 12 years on the council, Abernethy earlier this year announced he was not going to run for reelection.


Schenkelberg said she started to think about running after listening to the Bend City Council discuss the death of George Floyd, who died in May after a police officer kneeled on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was disappointed in how the council responded, and found the response disorganized.



“There’s an idea that there is no diversity here,” she said. “That’s not true. As a queer person and as a brown person, I know both of those communities are in Bend. They are my friends and people I interact with daily.”

When the filing period opened up, Schenkelberg was hoping to see a candidate that represented her. But as time went on, she realized if she wanted to see a queer person of color on the council, she needed to run herself.


“There’s an idea that there is no diversity here,” she said. “That’s not true. As a queer person and as a brown person, I know both of those communities are in Bend. They are my friends and people I interact with daily.”

Over the course of her five years in Bend, Schenkelberg said she noticed that the Bend City Council was mostly represented by white, upper middle class people who owned property. She wants to add a voice to the council that she currently doesn’t see represented as someone who rents and does not own property in town.

“I felt there needed to be a voice like mine on the Bend City Council,” she said.


Schenkelberg’s main priority if elected would be to have more conversations with her fellow councilors and city staff about how to align the values of the city of Bend, which she considers to be more conservative, to be more in line with the community’s growing progressive voice.

A large piece of that would be doing more work to encourage and understand diversity, Schenkelberg said. She believes there is a disconnect between the city and the communities it serves.


“How do we expect the city to interact with the community if they don’t know how to talk to the community?” she said.


Schenkelberg moved to Bend five years ago from Colorado to pursue a master’s degree in counseling. Since 2016, she has worked at Northwest Discovery Outpatient Services, where she works with youth on probation and parole.


She believes her experience as a counselor makes her qualified to be on the council because she has experience mediating and having difficult conversations with a variety of people.


“I’m extremely versatile. I enjoy talking to people, and I enjoy listening to people,” Schenkelberg said.


Four Bend City Council positions are up for election in November. The filing period is open through Aug. 25. Due to COVID-19, candidates can choose to pay a $25 fee instead of collecting signatures to get on the ballot.


Article written by The Bend Bulletin. View the original article here.


26 views

JOIN RITA

Support Our Cause

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Receive Campaign Updates

Rita Schenkelberg

- FOR CITY COUNCIL, POSITION 4 -

  • Rita For Bend Instagram
  • Rita For Bend Facebook
  • Rita For Bend Twitter