In Gold Bar this year, all municipal candidates will win

GOLD BAR — It looks like Gold Bar will have the same City Council and a new mayor.

A special filing period drew a candidate each for the mayor’s spot and two of three City Council seats that no one sought during the original filing for this year’s local election.

Only one person filed for a total of five open city offices during the regular window this spring. That was Brian Diaz, appointed to City Council last year. He is running unopposed, as are all of the candidates in this town of 2,100 people.

Florence Martin and Steven Yarbrough, currently on the council, filed last week during the special period to keep their seats, according to the county elections office.

One seat did not get any takers. That means the incumbent continues to serve, elections manager Garth Fell said. In case of a vacancy, the council may appoint someone. John Dawson, appointed in 2016, is listed as the current council member in that seat.

The mayor’s office is set to welcome someone new. Lee Hodo decided not to run.

Bill Clem, a 36-year-old State Farm insurance agent, filed on Aug. 2 for the job. He decided to do so after reading a news story about the lack of candidates in Gold Bar.

“I don’t have any political ambition beyond this role. I don’t see this as a starting point or a stepping stone,” he said. “I see it as a way to make the place I live better, and when someone who has more experience or is more qualified wants it, I won’t fight that. But I’m not the type of person to complain that no one else will do it if I’m not willing to, either.”

Clem hasn’t held public office, but said he has experience in management and budgets after years working with nonprofits and churches as well as in the insurance industry. He moved to Gold Bar with his wife Jenna and four children, ages 5 to 12, about a year and a half ago.

He said it’s clear the community is divided. There have been years of tension between city leaders and some who live in Gold Bar. Clem suspects that’s why there was a lack of interest in running for mayor.

“It’s going to be a contentious job, it’s going to be a difficult job, but it’s not going to be a full-time paid job,” he said. “I think a lot of people looked at that and thought, ‘This is going to be a headache.’”

The mayor’s job pays $300 a month.

Clem said his priorities as mayor would be to better monitor the city’s budget and help prevent Gold Bar from potentially unincorporating. He also wants to bring people together, and hopes to talk with council members and with those who have concerns about city leadership.

This isn’t the first time Gold Bar has lacked candidates for key positions. In 2013, a special filing period was needed after no one sought the mayor’s spot. Three people stepped up. The victor, Linda Loen, resigned in 2016, leaving the job to Hodo.

Two other positions in Snohomish County did not attract interest during spring filing. A fire commissioner seat for Snohomish County Fire District 26 has since a candidate, Tom McMasters-Stone, step forward. No one filed for commissioner position 2 for the East County Park and Recreation District.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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