Dan Clem walks to the stage to accept the President’s Award on Jan. 31 at the Keizer First Citizen Banquet. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Dan Clem walks to the stage to accept the President’s Award on Jan. 31 at the Keizer First Citizen Banquet. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

Having recently stepped down from public office, Dan Clem figured there was no reason to dress up for the Keizer First Citizen Awards Banquet on Jan. 31.

Besides, the former Salem City Councilor didn’t anticipate winning anything so a sweater, jeans and tennis shoes seemed to be safe enough.

But Audrey Butler, president of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, had a different plan.

Butler surprised Clem with the President’s Award.

Butler called Clem, who serves as chair of the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, the “iron link” between her and legislation impacting Keizer.

“He’s the man who has elevated the chamber to a new level,” Butler said.

Clem joined the chamber last June.

“I am truly humbled to be welcomed into Keizer in such a wonderful fashion,” said Clem, who recognized wife Debbie for her support. “The public deserves our best and I hope to continue to give my best. I’m always reminded by Audrey’s caring heart and her sense of volunteerism. That’s the great thing about this community, you just volunteer so much. Audrey says it and it’s absolutely true. She lives it and the community lives it.

“We vote once or twice a year, but when we volunteer we vote daily about the kind of community we want to live in,” he added. “I’m very proud to be part of Keizer, thank you.”

Butler, who as chamber president had the sole call on who got the award, outlined why she chose Clem.

“The last six months have been more than I anticipated,” Butler said. “I can’t wait to see the flourish in growth we will have in the next six months. As I began the journey of your chamber president six months ago, I knew I was going to find a few avenues I would struggle in. Like they say, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. When you identify the weak points in you, you can only improve them. Those weak points can only be made stronger.”

After returning to his seat, Clem still couldn’t believe he was leaving the event with a new clock.

“I’m shocked,” he said. “Keizer is such a wonderful place because of the people. I’m deeply humbled and honored by this award.”

Debbie noted she didn’t know about the award beforehand, but she didn’t sound terribly surprised based on what her husband does.

“This is nobody who loves their community more than Dan does,” Debbie said. “He thinks of the whole area as his community. He does a lot of good stuff.”

Clem took the good natured ribbing about his somewhat casual attire in stride and pointed to a valid reason.

“I didn’t wear a suit and tie because I’m out of office,” Clem said.