Marc Boldt broke down on his final business day in office as a Clark County commissioner. His eyes turned red, he choked back tears and he took a few deep breaths to settle himself.
He wasn't alone in the emotion. Many of the more than two dozen who spoke in the commissioners' chambers became emotional as they thanked Boldt for his service during a two-hour ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
Boldt, a Republican who served eight years on the commission and 10 years in the state Legislature, lost his re-election bid in November to Republican David Madore.
Commissioner Steve Stuart, a Democrat, carried most of the emcee duties for the event as he fought back tears. At one point he stopped, started to laugh and with a red face told Boldt, "I ain't going to look at you anymore, dude."
"He has made me a better person," Stuart said. "Everyone around him gets better for having known him. … I love you. You're a good friend, and I look forward to working together for years to come."
County Administrator Bill Barron choked up as well, during a presentation of a proclamation thanking Boldt for his eight years of service on the commission.
"One thing governing bodies do is they resolve, and they put into writing," Barron said, pausing a moment to compose himself. "This is not going to be easy …what they feel."
Barron and Boldt then hugged, and Boldt received a standing ovation. Boldt turned from his seat at the front of the room to face the 200 or so in attendance and mouthed the words, "Thank you."
'It's an amazing county'
Commissioner Tom Mielke lightened the mood a bit, telling a story of the time the two men shared a trailer in Olympia as they both served in the state Legislature. The better stories, he said, perhaps should "not be told in mixed company."
"I'm honored to call you my friend," said Mielke, also a Republican. "I'd like to say thank you, and congratulations, for all the work you've done."
For nearly an hour the presentation went on. Those who spoke described Boldt's heart, courage and moral compass. Again and again, they thanked him for the work he did in social services, for the farming community and for Clark County as a whole.
A more composed Boldt rose at the end to thank the crowd for gathering. While he remains in office until Jan. 2, Wednesday was his final day of conducting county business. There are no more county meetings planned through the end of the year.
"Thank you so much," Boldt said. "It's just been an amazing run. It's an amazing county. It's wonderful."
Boldt said he's not done being involved in the county, that his work isn't complete.
"We'll keep it up," he said. "I'll see you around. So merry Christmas, happy New Year and God bless."