After the first City Council election for the new Sammamish, the task of creating a new city was enormous.
The City Council had to select its leadership and committees for key “needs,” such as transportation. Ordinances had to be created. Contracts for essential services had to be negotiated. An interim City Manager and staff had to be hired. Eventually a Comprehensive Plan would have to be written. A temporary City Hall had to be located, no small task in a community with no business complexes. A place to hold City Council meetings had to be identified.
And these are just some of the priority issues.
One of the top issues, the reason for incorporating in the first place, was to put a halt to the runaway development.
Organizing the Council
Phil Dyer had been a State Senator in the Washington Legislature. It was only natural that he was selected Mayor by his fellow Council Members—the procedure then, as now, in the Council-Manager form of government under which Sammamish was to be incorporated.
Jack Barry, an affable former educator, the husband of Janet Barry, then the superintendent of the Issaquah School District, and the biggest, landslide vote-getter in the 1999 Council elections, was named Deputy Barry.
Don Gerend’s deep interest in transportation issues landed him the chairmanship of the transportation committee.
Ron Haworth, the former fire chief, was the obvious choice to spearhead public safety efforts.
Kathy Huckabay, the lone Democrat on the Council (even though officially the Council was and is non-partisan), was the strongest environmentalist. But as the sole Democrat in the Republican Council, she was a minority of one, severely limiting her influence and ability to pursue her passions.
The moods of the winners and losers and their supporters for Council were largely as you would expect. The winners gloried in their 10 to 30 point margins over the losers, filled with an arrogance that was tough to conceal. The losers largely went home with their tails between their legs, unwilling or unable to immediately reengage for the issues that mattered to them.
Gerend, the most moderate Republican on the Council, believed that reaching out to “the other side” at his Transportation Committee and as a Council Member, was a statesman-like thing to do. But it wasn’t endorsed by the rest of the Council (except Huckabay). Eventually, Huckabay and Gerend found themselves as erstwhile allies and often in a 5-2 minority.
Becoming Little King County—sort of
Because the voters wanted to divorce from King County government, when the City Council began adopting the County’s ordinances as our own—changing the name from King County to Sammamish, and adopting minor changes throughout—the loyal opposition (so-to-speak) was appalled.
In retrospect, this was the most expedient and efficient thing to do in the time available before incorporation actually became effective a few months later.
Sammamish contracted with the King County Sheriff’s Office for police services. There hadn’t been any particular beef with the Sheriff’s Office except that it was understaffed and the area was under-served. As a new City with a new contract, however, the Office assigned a set number of cars and officers to the new City as our own local police force. This arrangement continues to this day.
Sammamish also contracted with the County for road maintenance (something that eventually would assume), animal control (still with the County) and other services. As the City matured, some services would be brought in-house and others remained with the County.
Fire services were contracted with Eastside Fire and Rescue, a consortium stretching from Issaquah to North Bend and including parts of unincorporated King County. Under incorporation, Sammamish became the owner of the three fire stations within the new City Limits and the fire vehicles stationed there. This arrangement continues to this day.
The first City Hall located in the Sammamish Highlands shopping center in commercial space next to what is now Trader Joe’s (then it was Ace Hardware). City Council meetings were held at the Sammamish Plateau Water & Sewer District (recently renamed Sammamish Plateau Water) offices on 228th Ave. SE.
These would be the City offices until the new City Hall was built on 10 acres the Council purchased early in the first two years.
One of the first actions of the Council was to impose a building moratorium. This was standard procedure in this State to give new cities time to adopt ordinances and to write the first Comprehensive Plan.
The moratorium would be extended several times by a successive City Councils, to the point that Sammamish was sued by the Master Builders Association—a move that could have bankrupted the City.
Even though the first City Council consisted of six Republicans, hardly known as a party sympathetic to environmental issues, and one Democrat, who was largely isolated, all seven were tired of King County’s dumping development on the Plateau. They also appreciated the lush, treed atmosphere that attracted them and others to Sammamish.
This Council proved to be “greener” than expected but not as green as many desired.
One thing most of this Council was committed to, however, was stopping development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail by King County.
This would prove to be the key issue for the next two Council elections and the comeback of those activists who saw their hopes dashed in the 1999 election.
Next: The 2001 City Council election cracks the Republican domination.