GOLD BAR — Jordan Sears and Steven Yarbrough agree on a lot.
On the Gold Bar City Council, Sears can count the times they voted differently “on one finger,” he said.
But there’s one thing separating them: 38 years.
Both are vying to become the town’s mayor, a position that pays $1,000 per month.
When Sears took office at 19, only two years ago, he was likely the youngest city councilmember elected in state history. Yarbrough, now 60, is a retired union electrician who runs a small computer repair company called Gold Bar Geek.
When asked about his age, Sears, who recently turned 22, quotes Dr. Who: “Some people live more in 20 years than others do in 80.”
“We’re constantly told younger people need to have a voice, they need to get more involved. And I did that,” he told The Daily Herald.
Yarbrough moved to Gold Bar in the ’90s and raised his kids in the area. Being a homeowner and running a small business has given him valuable experience, he said.
“I’d agree with a lot of my supporters that feel (Sears) just needs more seasoning,” Yarbrough said.
Sears is a lifelong Gold Bar resident who works at a financial institution in King County. He chairs the 39th Legislative District Democratic Organization and is endorsed by state Sen. Marko Liias, of Snohomish County.
If you ask Yarbrough, Sears’ political experience “doesn’t resonate very well with a lot of Gold Bar residents.” In 2020, city voters leaned toward Donald Trump.
Yarbrough thinks he’s more representative of Gold Bar. He’s gotten more conservative with age, but identifies as an independent. He didn’t vote for Trump in 2020, he said.
Sears said he wants to govern in a non-partisan way, although “understanding the game” and working with the state’s Democratic majority is important to help the town of about 1,800.
“He has different ambitions,” Yarbrough said of his opponent. “He likes to be known as the youngest city council member and I’m sure he’d also like to be known as the youngest mayor.”
Yarbrough doesn’t see a lengthy political career in front of him. He decided to run for council in 2017, back when “nobody wanted to be mayor of Gold Bar.”
People were likely dissuaded, Yarbrough said, by the near-dissolution of the city in 2012. Back then, Gold Bar was bogged down by public records requests and lawsuits.
Now, a more restrictive social media policy limits how councilmembers interact online in their official capacity. It’s meant to reduce the records that city staff has to retain. But Sears thinks it limits transparency.
“A lot of people in the city don’t know what’s going on,” he said.
The city’s website doesn’t see much traffic, and without a city Facebook page, Sears said misinformation can spread.
Yarbrough said a new social media policy isn’t a big priority. Citizens get the word out on town issues via Facebook.
The preceding mayor, Bill Clem, resigned this year after selling his home. Councilmember Chuck Lie is serving as mayor pro tem.
Sears and Yarbrough both want to see federal COVID relief money get the city out of debt. They say local parks should be improved. And they share a priority of addressing major congestion on U.S. 2 causing backups through town.
“As a city, we will just try to keep as much pressure as we can on other elected leaders to help us figure out a permanent solution,” Yarbrough said.
Better relationships with neighboring towns, the county, and the state are key to solving the traffic nightmares, Sears said.
“It’s a big deal that I think the state Legislature needs to know about,” Sears said. “… I believe that I can make them listen.”
Claudia Yaw: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @yawclaudia