My Story with Justin Finestone, City of Bend, OR

Posted on March 26, 2015

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ELGL’s mission is to connect, communicate, and educate. In this ongoing series, local government professionals tell the story of why they chose a local government career.

Justin Finestone (LinkedIn and Twitter) has been the Communications and Information Technology Director for the City of Bend, Ore. since May 2008. Prior to moving to Oregon he was the Communications Director for Eagle County, near Vail, Colo. Justin spent 16 years as a television news journalist before moving to the public sector. His government experience includes communications and public information work at Maricopa County and the City of Mesa in Arizona.

My story begins…..
…..I’ve been in local government communications for about 15 years.  While working the grind in TV news I asked myself, “what else can a guy with a journalism and political science degree do?”  I saw some of my former journalist peers working in local government communications and thought “I can do that…and I think I’d really like doing that!”  I find working in public service is much more satisfying than working for a giant media corporation’s bottom line.
My friends think that local government is…..

…..Easy!  Then I tell them the story of how my neighbors yelled at me for not personally removing a giant dead porcupine from a nearby city street, or how I catch hell when the city has to close a road for an infrastructure project…you get the picture.  I just let my friends know that I only hear from people who have a problem with the city, not the happy majority we have here in Bend…but I love trying to solve their problems!
The defining moment of my life was……
…..when my son with Down syndrome was born.  He’s taught me more about life in the last 12 years than I learned in the first 40. (do the math, now you know how old I am).
I am interested in a lengthy local government career if…..
….I have the continued support of my City Manager.  It makes a world of difference.
I aspire to….
….become a reality TV star.  You know, The Bachelor, The Apprentice, maybe even American Idol.  Kidding!  I aspire to be a great dad.  That’s what’s most important to me in life.
If you want to interview someone interesting, you should contact……
…..someone with a disability.  They truly have to persevere in life despite the challenges.  The rest of us have it easy.
I think more people would pursue a local government if…..
….they could spend a day in our shoes and see how rewarding public service really is.  The field is changing, and I think you can be just as creative – even entrepreneurial – in local government as you can in the private sector.  It just takes working for the right organization.  We have that here at the City of Bend.
I think professional networking associations are…..
…..a must.  It lets you know, if nothing else, that you are not alone!
I think bumper stickers are…..images
…..a great form of expression.  I need to come up with some witty, funny local government bumper stickers like “Honk if you think the Oregon UGB process is cumbersome.”  Ok, maybe that one doesn’t work.  How about “Honk if you want to violate the city’s noise ordinance.”  No?
My story ends……
…..on a white sandy beach in Hawaii.  With a Li Hing Mui Margarita…Google it.
For the next person that you interview, you should ask……
…..What does the fox say?

Supplemental Reading

Knope of the Week: Justin Finestone, City of Bend

City of Bend : Bend 101

Stop spreading dirt on snow – City of Bend, OR

Bend council seeks space – Bend Bulletin

Bend OKs OSU-Cascades campus: What’s next?

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