Stober resigns as city of Kent communications officer | Update

City CAO says Stober helped put Kent ‘on the cutting edge of local government communications’

Bailey Stober has resigned as the city of Kent communications manager to take a job in Texas.

Stober, who started with the city in 2018, said he will work for labor unions in Houston to help them improve their communications and political strategies.

“For about a year and a half before I came to the city I had my own consulting practice and previously had Houston labor unions, and the city of Kent was also one of my clients,” Stober said in a June 1 email. “When the opportunity came about to come here full-time I jumped at it and promised the mayor (Dana Ralph) I would commit to at least 18 months to try and really make some improvements, which we did. But now, Texas brisket is calling my name.”

Stober, whose final day was June 1, greatly boosted the city of Kent’s social media profile through Twitter and Facebook.

“Bailey transformed Kent’s communications team from a small group that employed a very traditional philosophy and tools into a full communications division that’s truly on the cutting edge of local government communications,” said Derek Matheson, city chief administrative officer, in an email. “He produced an annual increase in Facebook followers of approximately 6,000, or 70%, and Twitter followers of approximately 16,000, or 270%.

“He put Kent on the Seattle media’s radar, and they increasingly reach out to Kent for our perspective on local government issues. Our communications team won first-place awards from National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors and the City/County Communications and Marketing Association under his leadership.”

Matheson said COVID-19 became a central focus for Stober after the pandemic struck in March 2020.

“His idea to create a series of Kent-branded masks, promote them on social media, and hand out approximately 50,000 masks plus 25,000 hand sanitizer bottles at seven community events in 2020 was a huge success,” Matheson said. “His highly successful pandemic communications strategy included the use of mailers (including foreign language information), advertisements, signage and social media to communicate with the public.”

On the city’s Twitter account, Stober posted that he was leaving.

“Alright kids, today is my last day at the City! Thank you for the laughs, the tears, the smiles and the new friends. Stay hydrated and eat plenty of nuggets! Onward to Texas! Will miss y’all but my team is ready to keep the good times rolling for you.”

Followers of the city’s Twitter account were quick to react.

“I am sad to read this because you have truly been the best entertainment to come out of the city of Kent!” according to one statement.

Stober said he’s been training the communications team the past several months to take over the social media accounts.

Patti Belle, a city multimedia manager, will serve as interim communications manager while city Human Resources staff reviews the job description and then advertises the position this summer, Matheson said.

In June 2020, city administration decided to improve the city’s communication with residents by doubling its communications staff to four, with a manager and three coordinators.

Stober said he decided in April that he would be leaving Kent on June 1 to go to Texas.

In addition to working for the city of Kent, Stober three times ran unsuccessfully for the Kent City Council. He lost general election races to Deborah Ranniger in 2011 and Ken Sharp in 2013 as well as a primary race in 2015 against Tina Budell and Hira Singh Bhullar.

Stober resigned in 2018 as the communications director for King County Assessor John Wilson. King County placed Stober on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave in February 2018 because of his controversial conduct as chair of the King County Democrats. Stober resigned from his chair position earlier in 2018.

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