Two City Council Members will be leaving office on Dec. 31. Regardless of politics surrounding each,
regardless of differences over policies and demeanor, each deserves the thanks of Sammamish residents for their willingness to step up and provide public service. Too few people are willing to do so.
Nancy Whitten decided to retire after three terms on the Council. She is unquestionably the leading environmentalist on the Council, and her interest in this arena predates her service on the Council and incorporation of Sammamish.
Whitten first ran for the City Council in 2001 against incumbent Ken Kilroy, one of the original Council Members who took office in 1999. Kilroy interests aligned with the stereotypical conservative Republic that he was. Whitten’s environmental drive was behind her challenge to Kilroy. She was also concerned about the initial draft of the Comprehensive Plan created by the Planning Advisory Board (of which this writer was a member). One of the alternatives proposed was something called the Village Concept, an idea that created a series of small commercial/business areas throughout the City.
Whitten was a fish out of water when it came to politics and campaigning. She hated it. She didn’t doorbell. She barely went to the supermarket complexes to shake hands and hand out her materials. She relied on mailers and supporters instead.
On Election Night, she led Kilroy by 17 votes. By the time the election was certified three weeks later, she lost by 147 votes.
She made a second run in 2003, winning election over Kilroy ally Karen Moran (a former PAB member) with a 55%-45% margin.
During Whitten’s three terms on the Council, she was the leading advocate for the environment. Her abrasive style often worked against her and during her second term, she became obsessed with the inability of getting out of her driveway on 228th Ave. SE opposite Discovery School during rush hour; it was this that marked her second term.
Whitten returned to her roots, so-to-speak, for the environment in her third term. Blocking a rush-to-approve the required updating of the Comprehensive Plan, she reached out to Council Member Bob Keller to fix what they perceived to be a litany of flaws. Along with Council Member Tom Odell, the three led a major rewrite of the Comp Plan update. The outcome: a revised Comp Plan that Whitten, Keller, Odell and others on the Council concluded is far better than what was handed off to them by the Planning Commission.
After 12 years, Whitten was just tired. Citizens of Sammamish owe Whitten hearty thanks and gratitude for her long service.
The City will recognize Whitten at the Dec. 8 Council meeting.
Tom Vance is completing eight years of public service at the end of this year: four on the Planning
Commission and four on the Council. In addition, he served on other Council-appointed, temporary special-purpose committees, adding to his public service.
Regardless of disagreements over policy, the goals or his leadership style, Vance has been dedicated to a better Sammamish throughout his tenure of public service. He is one of the best policy wonks to serve on any City Commission, Committee or Council. And he did this without any personal agenda, other than to do what he thought was best for the City.
All too often, there have been too few people willing to step up and serve. Often, too, those who stepped up to advocate advocated for a self-serving matter of interest. Not Vance. He never had a development, a business, a zoning issue or some other self-interest as his motive. His motives were always for the better Sammamish, as he saw it. This selflessness is worthy of recognition and praise.
The City will recognize Vance at tonight’s City Council meeting.
As this year winds down, and so do the terms of Whitten and Vance, they both deserve the thanks of today’s 50,000-plus residents of Sammamish.