The election ballots will be received in the mail shortly and Sammamish voters will be choosing three council members. Who do they choose?
I’ve written quite a bit about the election in the recent weeks. Now it’s down to crunch time.
This the most disappointing council election I have seen in this city since the first one in 1999. The whispering campaign from the Jim Wasnick camp against Ramiro Valderrama began before the primary votes were fully counted. Despite his denials, there is ample evidence that Wasnick himself was actively involved and the whispers weren’t limited to his supporters, who were more interested in smears than in issues.
Some of the whispers—a year book entry from Valderrama’s West Point days to a false allegation that he is running as part of a slate to sneers about his birthplace—are petty, trivial and irrelevant. Another, more serious allegation, was based on an investigation that proved unfounded, but that didn’t matter to the Wasnick camp. All that mattered to them was a smear headline.
Then you have other candidates who for the most part didn’t campaign.
Nancy Whitten’s fear of campaigning is well known in this city to those who follow such things. From her first run in 2001 and again in 2003 and 2007, she would not doorbell and after some token appearances at bus stops even gave that up. To her credit, she appeared at all candidate forums and small gatherings. Nothing we’ve seen this year demonstrates anything different. She’s raised virtually no money and therefore so far has had only two advertisements. She put up old signs and that’s about it.
Her opponent, Kathy Richardson, had the misfortune in timing to have a previously scheduled trip to Africa that took her out of the campaign for three crucial weeks. But before she left, Richardson was largely the Invisible Candidate. She has been a huge disappointment when it comes to meeting the voters and getting her message across. A talented person with a lot of potential, she hasn’t “proved her case.” Voters have to take her on faith or on the basis of an anti-Whitten vote.
Tom Vance believes he lost his race in 2009 because he ran against a celebrity, John Curley. Vance door-belled 3,000 homes in that race but got creamed by 10 percentage points. I’ve previously written why he lost. This time, Vance arrogantly believes he doesn’t need to campaign because of his name recognition and this time he is running against an unknown, Jesse Bornfreund. I find this attitude a major slap in the face to the Sammamish voter.
But neither have I seen Bornfreund’s evidence of pressing the flesh. He says he is door-belling but I’ve not heard from anyone who has seen him doing so. He was seen taking down Valderrama signs, his distinctive pony tail making it unmistakable who it was.
Bornfreund’s campaign style is laissez–faire. At least I saw him regularly at the Farmer’s Market. I never saw Vance there, though others said they saw him.
What’s the bottom line?
Whitten vs Richardson
Whitten has provided yeoman service to the City before its incorporation and since. But she’s lost sight of the Bigger Picture, all too often taking parochial views all too dear to her heart rather than to that of the citizens at large. She’s become known among her fellow council members and observant public as being more concerned about being able to get out of her driveway on 228th at rush hour than about other issues, fairly or not. It’s time for a change.
Despite a hugely disappointing “campaign” (though Richardson’s lack of actions hardly rises to the word), Richardson is the preferred choice. She’s more conservative than Whitten, but Whitten’s rock-solid environmental image is overstated. Richardson is a centrist, not the right-winger she is portrayed. Richardson is thoughtful, reasoned and not erratic. Richardson probably would have been better served to wait two years and gain more seasoning, but she is a quick study.
If Whitten is retained, let’s hope she rediscovers her original mission for the city at large and not just her personal foibles.
Wasnick vs Valderrama
Wasnick had promise but descended into a campaign of personalities rather than issues. The problem fundamentally is that (as we previously and unequivocally proved) he teamed with John Galvin (and Galvin’s equally obnoxious buddy, Mike Rutt), whose long history of verbal abuse of everyone who doesn’t agree with him, from the City Council to the City Staff to the City commissions and committees and City consultants, is well documented. Wasnick is a bright man (as is Galvin, for that matter). Rather than engaging in a whispering campaign about yearbooks, birth places and slates, an issue-oriented campaign would have been better. Wasnick and Galvin are effectively the Wasnick-Galvin ticket. This sort of abuse doesn’t need to be rewarded.
Valderrama has a solid record of accomplishment at Citizens for Sammamish, challenging the status quo with results. CFS was successful in a broad sweep of issues that resulted in policy changes for the betterment of the citizens of the City. While Wasnick’s mouthpiece Galvin tries to paint Valderrama’s leadership of the CFS as part of the “old guard,” the charge is laughable. Just check out the campaign contributions we’ve previously posted of Valderrama vs Tom Vance (whose supporters are “old guard”) and there is very little overlap. In fact, Valderrama’s supporters are largely the same ones contributing to Kathy Richardson’s campaign. Galvin is pissed at CFS because CFS didn’t support his pave-it-over, Bellevue Square ambitions for the Sammamish Town Center. Galvin has Kemper Freeman envy and CFS didn’t go along–and that’s why Galvin supports Wasnick and Jesse Bornfreund. (He also supports Richardson, much to her chagrin, because he can’t stand Whitten.)
Valderrama believes in a collaborative approach seeking middle ground to extreme positions. This is how the job gets done. Valderrama and CFS have demonstrated a clear track record of challenging City Council and City staff positions for the greater benefit of the city.
Valderamma is the preference. He has a solid record at CFS. Wasnick’s sole claim to fame, barricades on the street he lives on, was so poorly received by others in his neighborhood that he lost his own precinct in the primary, is instructive.
Vance vs Bornfreund
I wrote a lengthy piece about this race here in which I said this is one of those races you close your eyes, grind you teeth, mark your ballot and hope for the best. Nothing has changed.
Vance is a superb policy wonk. He studies the issues and is very, very well informed. He performance at the sole candidates’ forum was the best of the crowd.
But his other “attributes” as previously outlined convince me he will not be a councilman who is open to ideas other than his own and whose disdain for the electorate in this election speaks for itself.
Bornfreund, on the other hand, joined Wasnick and Galvin to become the Wasnick-Galvin-Bornfreund ticket. Bornfreund has clearly bought into Galvin’s desires to pave over the Town Center with a Bellevue Square-type of development that is one third larger which would result in gridlock on 228th and all surrounding streets. Furthermore, there is no analysis whatsoever that remotely suggests this would be economically sustainable. Additionally, even if such a development were undertaken, it would crush the businesses at the Safeway and QFC complexes.
Rather than become a well-rounded candidate, Bornfreund became a one-issue (town center) candidate.
Painful though it is, Vance is the preferred candidate. Let’s hope he becomes a better council man than he was planning commission chairman and two-time candidate for council.