Chris Costello was appointed to Bishop City Council in April to fill a vacancy created by the death of Patricia Gardner. The term was for seven months and now he stands for reelection. He’s a short-term incumbent and long-time Bishop resident.
Costello moved to Bishop in 1987 with his wife DeeDee to volunteer at the Oasis of Grace Church as assistant and youth pastors. Costello is now the Senior Pastor at Oasis of Grace and Deedee is a registered nurse at Northern Inyo Hospital.
“She’s my best advertisement,” Costello said. “Everybody loves her.”
That helps because Costello seems uncomfortable when it comes to selling himself.
“I believe in having integrity and working hard. If people see that, then they know who I am.”
It’s his first campaign for public office. He didn’t have to run in April. He was appointed by a unanimous council vote.
“I’ve only put up about four or five signs, so I need to put up more.”
Besides working at Oasis of Grace, Costello serves as a chaplain for the Bishop Fire Department, Inyo County Sheriff, Hospice, and Foursquare International. He was a firefighter at Bishop for eleven years and before that for six years in Chalfant. He runs a sharpening business and is developing a part-time word-of-mouth business in bee removal. Costello has hobbies, too. He swims three-days a week at Keough’s and makes wooden bowls on a lathe. The Costellos raised three children in Bishop. The eldest two graduated from Bishop Union High School; their youngest daughter is a currently a senior.
His political motto is: “All of us are smarter than some of us.”
Costello wants to see more input from the public. He pointed out that his contact information is on City of Bishop website and that he’d be happy to talk to anyone with ideas or concerns. “I grew up in New York City so I’m used to people living above their shops,” he said.
He is excited about the work that the city is doing to tackle the vacant building “plague”. He likes the idea of rezoning areas in downtown as mixed-use, which would allow for housing.
When asked what he’d like to change about the council, Costello talked about the Brown Act’s restriction on
three or more council members discussing public issues in private.
“We have to have a special meeting if more than two of us want to discuss business, which makes it tough to hammer out details in private.”
He doesn’t want to repeal or amend the Brown Act, but would like to see more council forums and workshops so council members can work through the details of the issues before making decisions.
“We rely very heavily on city staff. That’s a good thing because they work-full time and are very good at what they do,” Costello said. A reliance on staff coupled with Brown Act restrictions can inhibit council members from intimately understanding issues or how each other think. He wants to be down in the weeds, discussing the issues with his co-workers and the public.
In seven months, he feels that he’s just found his rhythm.
“The legislative process can be painfully slow,” he said. “But, I’m figuring out how to get things done.”