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Commissioner gets council job

The North Bend City Council appointed nine-year North Bend resident and former planning commissioner Alan Gothelf to fill the Council seat left vacant by Chris Garcia, who resigned earlier this year to enjoy more free time.

Gothelf, who owns and operates a HobbyTown USA store in Redmond, told the Valley Record his goal as councilman will be to help North Bend "retain a rural, small town feel while being able to bring in enough revenue to provide, not just adequate, but good resources."

He wants to see the downtown core transformed to a gathering place with more retail shops and restaurants. He envisions "building a community like you might see in the downtown Kirkland area."

The Southern California native said he was drawn to North Bend because it reminded him of his upbringing in the San Fernando Valley.

"There's a low crime rate, and it felt comfortable riding a bike around," he said. "It felt like a good place to raise kids."

Maintaining that character could be a challenge for the city as it emerges from a development moratorium this summer, and learns to co-exist with the nearby Casino Snoqualmie, slated to open in November.

Gothelf expects the casino will increase the number of visitors to North Bend.

"To get to the casino, people will get off at North Bend exits. That means more traffic. With the increased flow, it's got to be an impact on our emergency resources," he said. There's also a bright side: "It gives more opportunities for local businesses to make more money."

Gothelf lives in the Si View neighborhood with his wife Esther, daughter Mara, a North Bend Elementary third grader, and daughter Ashley, who may start kindergarten this fall.

With a degree in management from California State University, Northridge, Gothelf spent most of his career in the technology industry, working for companies including Hewlett-Packard and Egghead Software. He bought his HobbyTown USA franchise a little over five years ago.

Gothelf's City Council term ends December 31, 2009.

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