Before he was a doctor, Nathan Boddie was a ski patroller, volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician in Montana. It was his experience as an EMT and his passion for helping people that inspired him to pursue medicine, he explains in a slight Southern accent over coffee at Thump.
With a bald head and thick-rimmed glasses, Boddie blends well into his natural environment, the local cafes and bars where he likes to connect with the service industry folks who put his campaign signs in their downtown and westside windows. In these spaces, he’s known simply as “Dr. Nate.”
“The people who see you every day tend to be who your supporters are,” Boddie explains, adding, “I’m interested in being here for the people who didn’t want me here, too.”
Boddie moved to Bend seven years ago, for the reasons so many Bendites do—to be closer to the mountains and all the recreation opportunities they provide. He had just completed a residency in New York City and jumped at the opportunity to practice medicine in Bend.
Specifically, Boddie is an internist and hospitalist—which means that he primarily cares for people who have been admitted to the hospital and is not confined to a particular area of specialty.
Boddie says that working at St. Charles he sees a cross-section of Bend that drives home the struggles facing homeless residents and others in distress, such as a lack of affordable housing and living wage jobs. And because he is trained in what he calls “social medicine,” Boddie says he is especially attuned to the ways in which people’s whole lives affect their health outcomes.
But despite his affable personality and casual style, Boddie is not one to shy away from a challenge. When he’s not working at the hospital, chatting with locals or studying up on issues facing the City, Boddie enjoys endurance sports—long-distance mountain biking, backcountry skiing and ultrarunning (that is, distances of 100 miles or more).
He says he was drawn to serving on Council both because of his desire to improve his community as well as the inherent challenge. Boddie explains that politics appeal to doctors (this November, Bendites saw four of them on the ballot, including Knute Buehler, Monica Wehby and John Kitzhaber) as well as attorneys, CEOs and executive directors because running a municipality involves similar types of challenges.
“For me, it was less personal growth than making sure Bend is a great place,” Boddie explains. “Politics is the annoying part.”
There are big questions facing the incoming Council, he says, chiefly: What will the city become?
Despite his current incarnation as a physician, Boddie has dealt with some of the issues currently facing the City in other communities and contexts. As an example, he points to his experience as the former executive director of Trees Columbus, an urban planning and greenspace organization in his home state of Georgia. While at the helm of the environmental nonprofit, Boddie says he worked on a project strikingly similar to Mirror Pond.
Whether or not the voters knew about his background in Georgia or Montana, Boddie says his campaign resonated with young, outdoorsy types.
“That’s kind of who I am,” he says.