Former Lynnwood mayor and council member Don Gough dies at 70

Among other accomplishments, he was instrumental in creating a blueprint for the city’s future.

Don Gough

Don Gough

LYNNWOOD — Former mayor Don Gough, who steered the city through the Great Recession and helped lay a foundation for several major developments, died Tuesday at the age of 70.

Gough served a decade on the City Council until getting elected mayor in 2005. He served two terms — not without controversy — before losing his bid for a third in 2013.

Last year he campaigned to get back on the council, surprising close friends who knew he wasn’t well.

“He was very ill but he was a man that had a lot of passion for the city and never gave up,” said Ted Hikel, a close friend who served on the council during much of Gough’s mayoral tenure.

In a statement, Mayor Christine Frizzell cited Gough’s leadership in completing a plan for the City Center and advancing critical projects, such as widening 44th Avenue West and building a pedestrian bridge over 44th, connecting the Interurban Trail with the Lynnwood Transit Center.

On his watch, early planning began on the Lynnwood Link light rail extension, and he helped shepherd the renovation of the city’s pool into a state-of-the-art recreation center.

Gough was also instrumental in creating Lynnwood Moving Forward: Our Community Vision, a blueprint crafted by residents, businesses and civic leaders for the city’s future.

In August 2010, a judge criticized the former mayor’s treatment of female staff and found he disrespected and berated a former top assistant. There were also financial troubles, including a $5 million budget deficit in 2010 and a state auditor report that faulted the city for failing to control costs.

That same month, a majority of the City Council, which had been doing its own investigation of his interactions with employees, passed a resolution calling on Gough to resign. Hikel, a councilman at the time, abstained from the vote.

“Don was a perfectionist and demanded as much of himself as he did of the people who worked for him,” Hikel said.

He noted Gough’s management style rubbed some the wrong way.

“Don was not a touchy-feely kind of guy,” he said. “He was not a glad-handing mayor. He was an administrator. He was a working mayor.”

Frizzell’s statement lauded Gough for leading the city through the financial turmoil of the Great Recession.

“Through critical decision-making, Lynnwood was able to keep City services functioning and get us back on a path to recovery,” she said.

City Council President George Hurst said it wasn’t an easy task.

“I know he made a lot of tough decisions and some unpopular decisions, as far as cutting back expenditures, but in the end, he did bring the city through the financial crisis,” Hurstsaid.

During that period, Gough worked with the City Council to set up an emergency fund, Hurst said. When the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn began in 2020, the city could draw on money in the fund, he said.

Gough’s decision to run last year after having already served nearly two decades in elected office showed his commitment to the community, Hurst said. Gough lost in the primary election by three votes.

“He was still interested in serving the city,” he said.

Gough is survived by his wife, JoAnn, two children and four grandchildren.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; Twitter: @dospueblos.

Jacqueline Allison: 425-339-3434; Twitter: @jacq_allison.

Talk to us

More in Local News

The sign at Swedish Edmonds. (Herald file)
New deal gives Swedish nurses, health care workers a big boost in pay

The health care provider and SEIU 1199NW agreed to raises totaling at least 21.5% in the next three years

Ahadi family arriving in Washington on Oct. 22, 2021. (photo courtesy of Lutheran Community Services Northwest)
A year later, Afghan refugees in Lynnwood see brighter future ahead

Ziaurahman Ahadi served as a trauma medic on battlefields in Afghanistan. Now he builds fireplaces to support a family of eight.

4th defendant pleads guilty in white supremacist attack

Jason Stanley, of Boise, Idaho is one of four men prosecuted for attacking a Black DJ in Lynnwood.

A business on Highway 99 sustained heavy damage in a fire Wednesday morning north of Lynnwood. (South County Fire)
Arson damages building on Highway 99 north of Lynnwood

The fire in the 15800 block caused the highway to close between 156th and 164th streets SW on Wednesday morning.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Snohomish man suffers life-threatening injuries in police shootout

The Valley Independent Investigative Team reported state troopers returned fire when a driver shot at them near Clearview.

An EA-18G Growler taxis down the airstrip on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island during the squadron’s welcome home ceremony in August 2017. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Wood/U.S. Navy)
Talks break down over ‘remedy’ in Whidbey Island Growler lawsuit

“From the get-go, everyone recognized that it was probably going to end up in the court’s hands.”

Logo for news use featuring Camano Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Island County settles sexual harassment lawsuit with deputy

The county will pay Deputy Mike Adrian a total of $105,000.

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney in a video decries an erosion of public safety and increase in brazen criminal behavior. (Screenshot)
Snohomish County sheriff, chorus of local leaders decry policing reforms

Criminals are getting more brazen, they said. In a video, they called for easing vehicle pursuit rules and stiffening drug laws.

Attorney Michael Andrews, left, and Kyle Brown listen to the judge's address Wednesday afternoon at the Snohomish County Superior Courthouse in Everett, Washington on September 21, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Marysville ex-youth minister gets community service for sexual assault

Kyle Brown, of Marysville, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault with a sexual motivation last month. In 2019, he was charged with molestation.

Most Read