The mayor and deputy mayor for the Sammamish City Council will be named tomorrow night at the first City Council meeting of the New Year.
Two new Council members will be sworn in.
The leadership roles have come down to Don Gerend, who has been on the Council since the first one was elected in 1999, and Ramiro Valderrama, who was reelected to his second term in November. It’s unclear who will be selected for a two year term as mayor and a one-year term as deputy mayor. The positions are selected by a vote of the seven member council, and not the public in a general election. This is due to Sammamish being a City Manager form of government with what’s called a weak mayor system.
The newcomers to the Council are Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish.
The City Council election campaign last year was the bitterest since the first one in 1999. Selecting the leadership team of mayor and deputy mayor is an opportunity for the two factions of the Council to come together in a show of unity. Sammamish Comment has been told by members of both factions that they are striving for a unanimous vote. Gerend, who has served on the Council since the first in 1999, is viewed by both factions as the swing vote. The easy-going Gerend is viewed as a “safe, non-controversial” choice for mayor. Valderrama, viewed as the leader of the incoming faction that includes Malchow and Hornish, is seen by the former remaining ruling majority faction as too controversial and polarizing. While there appears to be general acceptance of Valderrama as deputy mayor to Gerend’s mayor, the argument for Valderrama as mayor is that he won reelection by the widest margin in City history; and the mathematics for the Valderrama/Malchow/Hornish races show that they received in the aggregate 65% of the vote in the Nov. 3 election. This, the argument goes, demonstrates voters want a change and back Valderrama to lead it.
The Comment has been following the discussions between Council members and can report that there are encouraging signs to put the bitterness of the election in the past. If the leadership vote is unanimous, or nearly so (there appears to be at least one holdout for a show of unity), this would be a powerful sign within the Council and to citizens that this new Council is ready for cooperation and inclusion instead of confrontation and exclusion.
It’s the perfect time to put the past in the past and to move forward together. The leadership vote tonight will be key to setting the tone for the next two years.