Tribal Government & News

Longtime Tribal employee seeking elected office on Conservation District board

10.06.2022 Dean Rhodes Tribal employees, Elections
Tribal employee Lindsay McClary is a candidate on the Nov. 8 ballot for the Zone 2 position on the Board of Directors of the Polk Soil & Water Conservation District. She currently works for the Tribe’s Natural Resources Department as the restoration ecologist and fish and wildlife policy analyst.


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Longtime Tribal employee and Tribal spouse Lindsay McClary is on the Nov. 8 ballot in Polk County, seeking her first elected position.

McClary, 38, is running for the Zone 2 seat on the Polk Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Directors. The seat is currently held by19-year incumbent David Simmons, who is also seeking re-election.

McClary, who married former Tribal Council member Toby McClary in 2019, has worked for the Grand Ronde Tribe’s Natural Resources Department since 2010. She is currently the Tribe’s restoration ecologist and fish and wildlife policy analyst.

Before that, she worked for four years with the U.S. Forest Service as a biological technician.

She graduated from Central Michigan University in 2007 with a degree in recreation, parks and leisure services administration and a minor in natural resources management. She received a master’s degree in the same fields of study in 2016.

The Polk Soil & Water Conservation District is a subdivision of state government that is administered by seven elected directors who serve without pay for four-year terms. The board is made up of five landowners from different zones and two at-large directors who represent the entire county and meet monthly.

“The reason I am running is my desire and position to bring a different voice and also a positive influence on the board,” McClary said during a Thursday, Oct. 6, interview. “I’d like to bring a fresh, positive voice to the current board that’s going to create a positive working environment for the staff.”

McClary said her interest in running for the position was sparked by her Tribal job duties and the partnerships the Tribe has with the Polk Soil & Water Conservation District.

“I work regularly with the staff. We collaborate. We partner. I’ve been involved in my profession in that way and knew that there were some opportunities for shifting some of the board’s focus and social environment,” she said.

According to the district’s website, board members work cooperatively to plan and oversee implementation of the district programs.

“Conservation is a team effort requiring strong partnerships,” McClary said in her candidate statement available at “One of the most rewarding aspects of my current position and past experience is the relationships I have made with other professionals, practitioners and partners through land management projects.

“I would like to serve as a Polk SWCD director and bring my natural resource management experience to address the priority concerns in Polk County. I also offer a Tribal partnership and perspective, including historic land management principles, to conserve and restore Polk County’s natural resources and production capabilities.”

McClary says her qualifications include managing more than 2,400 acres of Tribal lands designated for fish and wildlife habitat of which 827 acres are in the Polk Soil & Water Conservation District’s boundaries.

“Board priorities for me will include creating a positive board environment, which will enhance and empower current staff and result in a positive working atmosphere,” she said in her candidate statement. “Recruiting and retaining high quality staff to assist Polk County residents in conservation efforts, including filling open positions, and building landscapes that are resilient in the face of climate change.”

Zone 2 of the Conservation District includes the northeastern portion of Polk County. McClary lives in west Salem.

Her opponent, Simmons, did not provide the Conservation District with biographical or profile information.

McClary added that she has received support from her Natural Resources Department colleagues, some of whom have offered to place campaign signs in their yards, and from her husband, who won two terms on the Grand Ronde Tribal Council.

“He’s very supportive,” McClary says. “He’s my campaign manager. He’s very excited to be back in the political scene.”

In addition, former Natural Resources Department Manager Michael Wilson, who is a Grand Ronde Tribal member, is running unopposed for re-election to the Conservation District’s Zone 5 seat. Zone 5 includes most of southern Polk County.