Sammamish Comment endorses Mark Baughman for Sammamish City Council Position 1.
Baughman (pronounced Boff-man) is a newcomer to Sammamish public service. His profession in development may seem to be blasphemous to the Sammamish residents who cringe at the clear-cutting, road-congested environment that overwhelms citizens, but hear this out.
His answers to our Primary questionnaire demonstrated the best grasp of issues important to Sammamish, growth, development, traffic, concurrency and related issues of any candidate.
This knowledge base will be critical for the new City Council in which four of the seven seats turn over. Baughman will be able to spot when Staff is pursuing an avenue of information that may or may not be on target. Other new Council Members will have a learning curve that will take months or longer to develop the same sense of detection.
More to the point, Baughman’s construction knowledge and knowing his way around complicated bids will serve the taxpayers well when you consider that huge road projects are or soon will be underway (Issaquah-Fall City Road, Issaquah-Pine Lake Road, perhaps Sahalee Way) and there are $165m of transportation projects outlined in the City’s plan. His opponent, Jason Ritchie, simply can’t match this expertise that will be crucial in shepherding Sammamish tax dollars.
To be sure, Baughman expressed opposition to a general building moratorium, but he supports the emergency one adopted by the Council Oct. 4. His will be a voice for property rights. This is an important voice. In this context, Baughman’s voice will replace that of retiring Council Member Don Gerend, who was a consistent advocate for property rights and the ability of the “mom and pop” development.
Like Gerend, we think Baughman will balance property rights with environmental and traffic concerns. Like Gerend, voters should know the voice they will be getting in Baughman on development.
There’s another thing we especially like about Baughman: he’s a no-nonsense, cut through the bullshit, tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy. He is refreshingly frank.
At the Candidates Forum, the other seven candidates stated their firm opposition to new taxes and then turned around to support bonds to pay for roads. When it came Baughman’s turn, he was the only candidate to declare that bonds may require a tax hike to pay for them. It’s a truth that needs telling, and Baughman told the truth.
When other candidates proposed synchronizing traffic lights along 228th to ease traffic congestion, Baughman correctly pointed out this system is already in place (however flawed the execution may have been). His “developer’s” knowledge clearly already knew this and he wasn’t shy about avoiding the platitudes offered up about a program that’s already in place.
When it comes to City finances, Baughman was the only one to distinguish between the operating budget and the capital budget and the nexus between the two.
Citizens who listen to Baughman won’t have to worry about getting political clap-trap.
All these factors combine to make the recommendation for his election easy.
Don’t give up
Ritchie, is making his third run for office. He was the Democrats’ sacrificial lamb in a prior race against US Rep. Dave Reichert, who easily defeated Ritchie. Last year, Ritchie nearly defeated Republican State Rep. Jay Rodne (5th LD, which includes the greater Klahanie area).
With this experience of running, especially for state office, we had high expectations for Ritchie’s grasp of issues. We were disappointed.
Despite three runs, Ritchie’s knowledge of the issues falls well short of Baughman’s. His answers at the Candidates Forum and in our Primary and General Election Questionnaires were largely superficial and filled with feel-good platitudes. His answers to our Questionnaires didn’t remotely measure up to Baughman’s detail. Ritchie’s responses in the Endorsement interview were far better than his questionnaires and forum, but he exhibited a lack of knowledge on key issues for which a state office candidate would be expected to have.
We don’t doubt Ritchie would be a credible Council Member. His heart is in the right place and his is a citizen’s agenda, not a personal one. But a stint on the Planning Commission would do him a world of good.
By Scott Hamilton and Jen Baisch.