Stuart wants your vote, but hasn’t voted in one city election in 15 years–till her own

Pam Stuart is a candidate for Sammamish City Council and she is asking for your vote.

She has spoken repeatedly of being “involved” in the City and how others should be, too.

But when it comes to voting for City Council and being involved in the most basic civic way in the 15 years she has lived in Sammamish, Stuart has an abysmal record.

Skipped every city election in last 15 years—until her own

She hasn’t voted in a single City election from 2005 until this year, when she voted in the Council primary in which she was running.

She didn’t vote in the special election for the Initiative and Referendum Advisory vote. She didn’t vote in the advisory election for the Community Center.

In fact, Stuart has voted in only seven of 37 elections since September 2004, just a 25% voting rate.

When asked to explain her voting record in our endorsement interview, Stuart’s replied, “Really? Well, that’s interesting. I don’t know. I find that shock… that can’t be true. Really? I honestly don’t have an answer for that,” she said. “I’m quite certain I have voted for City Council. But I’m happy to follow up on this. I will follow up.

“It’s a fair question and I don’t have a good answer for you, because I recall quite distinctly voting.”

Stuart was given the printout from King County Elections, which she asked to take with her from the interview.

However, when Stuart reverted to The Comment three days later, she conceded the County records appeared to be correct.

Voting is a responsibility

“I have to tell you that I am still in shock. I appreciate you letting me take your sheet to read at home (with my glasses). I have been a huge proponent of voting since the 7th grade with Mr. Pear, where his message landed well, “voting is not just a right, but a responsibility”. So, I do appreciate the importance of voting and really have no explanation as to why I haven’t voted in the odd years. I know it is an issue for many, as evidenced by voter turnout. I suspect it is the lack of publicity and people just not realizing there are elections in the odd years and to look for their ballots.

“All I can do is ensure that I vote in everyone from here on out. And all the more reason to keep knocking on doors and making sure people know that an election is coming up and help get out the vote.”

Her opponent, John Robinson, has voted in every election since 2009. Going back to 2004, for the balance of the same period as Stuart, he voted in only four of 13 elections.

10 thoughts on “Stuart wants your vote, but hasn’t voted in one city election in 15 years–till her own”

  1. While I agree that failing to vote is abdicating your civic responsibility, this is going to fall very fall down the list of priorities when it comes to choosing candidates in the next election. Failing to vote says nothing about a person’s ability to do their job on the Council and says nothing about their ideas on how to move our city forward. If Stuart can help to solve our traffic problems and save our tree canopy, I honestly don’t really care if she didn’t vote.

    Who wrote this, by the way? I don’t see an attribution and it feels a bit like an anonymous hit-job for her opponent.

  2. I appreciate Pam Stuart’s honest response. I think 2016 was a wake up call for many of us. Waking up to the realization that we can’t take our democracy for granted; that each of us has to be involved – from the very local level, to the national level. I have always been a good voter, but after November 2016, I realized that is not enough – a good voter doesn’t necessarily mean a “good citizen” of our democracy. So more power to all of the people who have stepped forward to run for our local offices, including Pam Stuart!!!

    1. Why does November 2016 has anything to do with our city elections? Traffic, growth, schools, trees, money waste – those are all non partisan issues in a non partisan election. If you ever visit a city council meeting you will see no partisanship whatsoever. It’s like an HOA meeting of neighbors, only with a little bit more impact on our lives. And local elections are probably the only vote we can directly impact our quality of life.

      There are a few of us citizens (including the council members who are basically volunteers) who spend hours, days and months trying to right this ship. None of us do it because of politics or “November 2016”. So stop all this political bs. If you don’t understand the complexity of the issues, read the blog posts here and then make an educated decision on who to vote for who can actually Hold city staff honest and accountable

      Let me remind you that Pam Stuart says we should listen to staff because they are the experts. How naive and inexperienced. That’s exactly how we got to this mess we are in right now. Listening to “experts”. We need experts in finance, legal, management, local government, deep understanding of Sammamish on the council – Pam Stuart has none of it. Working for Microsoft as a program manager for customer advocacy doesn’t prepare you for this challenge. If she was involved locally like some others then that’s valuable -but she didn’t even care to vote.

  3. Laurie, I understand your point regarding Pam Stuart voting only 4 times in the past 37 elections. You say, if she has the ability and ideas to fix problems who cares? But I also think Voting History is a fair issue to raise in an election and here is why. If Pam Stuart has shown little or no interest in voting over the past 13 years where is she on the issues? Is this an epiphany or is she the face of a special interest group? Voting history is an important indicator of: civic responsibility, concern, conviction, passion, history and knowledge of the issues. Voting is an indicator, if you internalize this indicator, it is NOT the act of voting that is being called into question, it is the internal process that one goes through when they vote that is being called into question. Voting history asks the question… does Pam have a strong, in-depth, factual and historical foundation on the issues? Has Pam had enough TIME to investigate, understand and internalized the facts and issues? John Robinson’s voting history indicates that for the past 8 years John has taken the TIME to investigate, understand and internalized the facts and issues. 8 years of: interest, creative ideas, outcomes and history is a lot of EXPERIENCE. EXPERIENCE is valuable. Marinate that EXPERIENCE in TIME and you get WISDOM. Sammamish needs WISE City Council members. Sammamish is dealing with complex issues that take TIME to fully investigate, understand and internalize. Because of TIME (8 years) John has a WISDOM advantage in solving Sammamish’s complex problems. I am with John.

    1. Voting history has no correlation with management experience or construction ideas or time spent on thinking about these problems. It’s fine if you support Robinson. He’s a good man. But if we didn’t vote for people with a scanty voting record, we would be excluding excellent candidates for, frankly, petty reasons. A huge chunk of our citizens don’t vote. That’s a national problem that should be addressex, but I’m not going to hold it against someone who is actually brave enough to step up and run for office. Let’s keep our eye on the real problems here.

      1. Laurie, public pressure forced Pam to post her responses to the Master Builders endorsement questionnaire. If anything, it shows very little understanding of the issues. Her comments on FB are equally puzzling. For example, she’s for upzoning in Sammamish but only if doesn’t hurt residents or impacts traffic. She suggests more density in the Town Center, but the EIS for the Town Center (that was based on the old flawed concurrency model and ignored AM peak hour traffic) already showed in 2007 that the roads around Town center will reach capacity under current zoning. Voting history does have correlation to interest in what’s happening in the city, even if a loose correlation.

  4. CityHamilton, can you provide voting records for all of the candidates? I don’t know their birth dates and am having a hard time accessing information. If we are going to talk about Pam’s voting record, we might as well look at all of the candidates too.

    12,219 out of 36,698 registered voters in Sammamish sent in ballots in August. That’s only 33.3%. What happened to the other 66.7%?

    1. Hi Kimberly,

      Citywide voting: In presidential election years, Sammamish turnout is typically around an astounding 85%. It drops in off-presidential years (ie, 2014, 2010, 2006, etc.) Turnout varies depending on whether one of our US Senators is up for election in one of those years. If not, turnout drops even further. (Note: the Governor’s office is concurrent with a presidential year.)

      In off-year elections (ie, the odd year), when city and county council races are up, the drop off goes even more, to about 40%-45%, depending on the competitiveness in the races and any “hot” issues affecting these races; and whether there are any “hot” Initiatives on the ballot. In primaries (ie, August voting) and special elections (typically February or April, but sometimes December) which usually are school levies, advisory votes, and so on, voter turnout drops even more. (Why the Legislature changed WA’s primary from May to summer-time August is beyond me). Hence, the turnout you noted for last August’s primary.

      All that said, I find it ridiculous that people don’t vote. With 100% mail-in ballots, which may be cast in your own home, how can you not vote? With the self-stick stamps, now you don’t even have to go through the pain and agony of licking the stamp.

      We have the voting records of all the candidates. They show:

      Mark Baughman voted in every election except 12 primary and special elections since 1998. He voted in every general election since 1998.
      Jason Ritchie voted in every election except two since 2011 and none at all from 2004 through 2010.

      Karen Howe did not vote in 16 elections since 1994, nearly all of which were primary or special elections.
      Karen Moran voted in every election since 2001.

      Rituja Indapure did not vote in nine elections since 2001. She missed only two elections since 2012, both being primary/special elections.
      Chris Ross did not vote in three primary or special elections since 2010.

      The voting records of Stuart and Robinson are described in the article.

      What makes Stuart’s failure to vote especially relevant are two things: (1), During the endorsement interview (and elsewhere), she emphasized over and over the need for civic involvement. There is no easier “involvement” than to vote, from your home, in an election. Voting is one of the most basic rights enshrined in the Constitution. (2) Her reasoning vote not voting–that she didn’t know any local election in 15 years was even taking place–doesn’t pass the sniff test. As we noted in the recommendation editorial, how could she drive by the candidate sign pollution every two years (for 15 years) and not know an election was taking place? Either she’s making up a (poor) excuse or she was totally unaware for 15 years. Either way, this record speaks poorly and it was so noted. We simply found this offensive.

      On the other hand, you had Robinson dismissing the importance of door-belling in basic retail politics at a suburban level. This equally offensive position, to use the football analogy, was (like Stuart) worth a 15-yard penalty. These were off-setting penalties. (There were other issues that, on balance, were also off-setting penalties).

      These are why in the end we didn’t “endorse” but only “recommended” in Position 7. Both candidates will do a credible job. Robinson’s low-energy campaigning compared poorly against Stuart’s energetic campaign. In the end, we concluded Stuart will probably be more aggressive in holding the staff’s feet to the fire (though we do have some concerns about this) than Robinson. This is what tipped the balance when all the other offsetting penalties were considered.

      1. Thank you for your thorough reply. I had a ballot rejected once because my signature didn’t match my voter’s registration card. I signed it in a hurry and was (pleasantly) surprised that they actually match up signatures. And, I have placed ballots in a safe place on my desk, only to find them after the postmark date. I prefer to wait until the deadline. And, quite a few years ago many of my friends didn’t have their ballots counted when a LWSD school bond was on the ballot. We don’t know what happened. We live on the same street and wondered if our postman lost the mail that day. It’s far more simple to vote in Washington state vs. where I grew up. I love the drop box at City Hall and just found out about it in November 2016. Some years I don’t have stamps on hand (I think it takes a couple) and have scrambled to get them. But, I’ll admit, I have failed to vote some years. Some years I’m not familiar with any candidates, like the Port of Seattle Commissioner position.

        I’m looking forward to learning more about our government because a current candidate has inspired me to do so. She chose to get involved and to put countless hours into this race. It’s easy for me to read articles online. It’s easy for me to throw yellow flags at faux pas. It’s not easy to get involved because it takes time and effort. But she has made me what to be more active in our community.

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