Clem
Clem

The Gold Bar mayor’s seat will be filled despite no one applying to the position this spring.

Bill Clem, a relatively new resident, stepped up to take the job. Ninety-five percent of the 285 people who cast their votes reinforced his application.

Clem and his family moved to Gold Bar in February 2016. Before taking on the new address, he had opened an independent insurance agency he operated in Bellingham for five years. Eventually, staff at the State Farm insurance company approached him about running one of their local branches.

His choice was between a few different locations in Snohomish County, but Clem settled on Monroe. Clem and his wife searched the area for a place where they could put down some roots and buy a house that was affordable. Gold Bar fit.

The city has a distinct small-town feel, and the surrounding views of the Cascade Range were a major driver in the decision, Clem said. Two of his three daughters now attend Gold Bar Elementary School, his youngest — his son — just started preschool, and his oldest daughter goes to Hidden River Middle School in Snohomish, where his sister works.

Clem was born in Portland, and his family moved around frequently while he was growing up, he said. That didn’t change in adulthood. He and his wife have mostly lived on the West Coast. Clem said he has been active wherever they landed.

“I never had desire or ambition to be quote unquote ‘in politics,’” he said. “I have always been very involved in my community and what’s going on in the neighborhood.”

Clem said he decided to run for mayor of Gold Bar largely because no one applied.

Mayor Lee Hodo announced he was ready to step down at the end of his current term this year. Hodo was mayor pro tem when former Mayor Linda Loen resigned in 2016, and he stepped in. He is finishing her term, which ends in 2018.

Hodo was on the city council for nearly three years prior. He is in his 80s and had said he needed to tend to things at home. Clem said he heard there was a similar issue four years ago — no one was interested in filling in.

“I am not the kind of person to wish that someone would do something and not be willing to do it myself,” he said.

Clem has been attending city council meetings and reading up on the position since deciding to apply. He said he believes he can bring some harmony to the politically divided town; the Gold Bar council chambers have a long history of seeing heated conflict. Because Clem isn’t a part of that past, he said he hopes he can bring the opposing sides together.

While in the mayor’s seat, Clem said he wants to support more community activities that also cater to the younger married couples and young families with kids that have moved to the area in recent years. A number of them have been coming to the council meetings in the last few months, and he hopes to keep them involved and interested.

Clem said at least for a while he plans to be in the mayor’s office for a few days each week. His hours in Monroe are often by appointment, so he has the flexibility to divide his time between the job and making sure Gold Bar gets the direction it needs.

The open Gold Bar City Council positions will also be filled.

Three incumbents stepped up this year. All were appointed to the seats they currently hold. Only one had officially applied before the Aug. 2-4 open filing period that occurred after the primary election. All received around 97 percent of the vote.

Brian Diaz, who was appointed in January 2016, ran unopposed for the council’s Position 5 seat. Steve Yarbrough, who was appointed to the council in June, also ran unopposed. Florence Martin was appointed to the Position 3 seat in 2010, and was then elected to a four-year term that also expires in 2018.