Blum focuses on public service on Sisters City Council

 

Last updated 9/5/2023 at 9:58am

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Councilor Andrea Blum

Andrea Blum has been involved in Sisters Country life for many years. Blum moved to Sisters in 1988 and purchased 20 acres of land in the triangle between Bend, Redmond, and Sisters.

Blum worked for the Bureau of Labor and the Oregon Public Employees Union in the Willamette Valley before moving to Sisters, and had always been interested in public service work.

"I worked my way up to the office manager position and learned about workers' rights. I worked behind the scenes on contract negotiations and accident insurance claims. And all those things that are the other side of the equation that you don't know much about. I got an opportunity to go out on the picket line, and witness how employee unions worked," said Blum.

At the time, Blum and her husband lived in Salem but knew they didn't want to live there forever. They relocated to Sisters, purchased their 20 acres, and began figuring out how to get it developed.

At the time Blum moved to Sisters, there wasn't much in Sisters; there was barely a septic system, and now, over her 30 years here, Blum has witnessed Sisters build and evolve into a community.

"Occasionally, we went to things, and then they started having Starry Nights, and wow," she recalled. "They had people we'd heard of and were in the brand-new little high school with a stage and folding chairs. We had mostly country western who came, and then the Folk Festival started, and they had a jazz festival, then we had the Quilt Show, and it just started building and evolving and becoming more of a community."

Blum worked for the Deschutes County Commissioners' office as a recording secretary when they settled in Sisters. She witnessed many changes in zoning for farmers. The County was evaluating all the farmland and what was resource land, and finding out that a lot of land had been zoned as exclusive farm use because it wasn't resource land.

She also witnessed the uniqueness of the three counties of Central Oregon -Deschutes, Jefferson, and Crook - working together to better the area instead of competing.

"After witnessing how government worked in Salem, when I came here, the various three counties, especially Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, worked together," Blum said. "They didn't compete against each other; they looked at who had the resources to do what, and why they duplicated what each other was doing. And the same thing with ODOT. And even the nonprofits and social services. In Salem, it was: We're getting federal money for this, so if you're our competitor, we'll get less than you... Whereas, here it was, well, you're already doing this; why should we do it?"

Government has always been an interest of Blum's, and when she and her husband, Jack, relocated from their 20 acres to a house in Pine Meadow Village in 2014, they began attending City Council meetings. Blum was also the county representative for the League of Women Voters at the time, therefore understanding how public boards and meetings went. Blum was also well versed in the language of council meetings and public government because of her career background.

Blum was pleasantly surprised with how the meetings were held, and with a lot of angst going on in Sisters at the time, she thought things were handled very well. That same year (2014) there was a vacancy on the Council. Blum was tapped to fill the vacant seat as she had been to every meeting and knew the other councilors.

"They knew I already knew what the agenda was all about. It would have been easy for me if they asked me to interview for it, which I did and was successful. In 2015, I was on the Council," said Blum.

Blum has been on the Council ever since, being elected to the post in 2020. She now serves as the Council president and is involved with boards and organizations in the area.

Blum has served as the Sisters representative with Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) and has served on the Central Oregon Commission on Transportation (COACT) board overseeing numerous transportation projects happening in Central Oregon including roundabouts.

Blum also works with the houseless community boards within COIC as the Sisters representative, attending meetings surrounding solutions for the houseless community.

"I think this community is very lucky in the people who have stepped forward to run. When I first came here, we had very few people who were ready to run up to throw their hat in the ring for the Planning Commission, the Parks Board, or any of that stuff because there was too much squabbling about issues," said Blum.

Blum hopes to encourage community involvement and make Sisters livable for all ages and groups.

"Because we do have a lot of new people coming to this community, there are a lot of people with very strong backgrounds in all kinds of areas that maybe never had a community interest when they were working in or living somewhere else. Here, they see that they can make a difference and are willing to give the time and effort," she said.

 

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