Sammamish voters are fortunate to have two well-qualified candidates for City Council Position 5. Sammamish Comment’s endorsement decision was a close call. Rituja Inadpure is the best choice to elect to the Council this time.
Indapure really leaned into the challenge of educating herself. Tapping into many resources, she has quickly come up to speed on the City budget, the traffic improvement plan, the Pro Plan (parks).
More importantly, and what separates her from her opponent, Chris Ross, is she’s able to augment this knowledge with specific examples of how the larger City issues impact citizens in everyday life, such as pointing out a spot where planting the wrong trees is ruining sidewalks, or how increasing retail in the City will increase law enforcement needs, or pointing out the specific roads where kids can’t walk to their elementary school because there are no sidewalks. She could only know this by listening to a lot of citizens throughout her campaign.
Indapure was one of the first candidates to raise awareness of the opportunities we have in the 3,000-to-4,000 home-based businesses in Sammamish that don’t have any services or resources in town, and her idea of co-workspace or a hub is new and interesting.
Indapure said that in the case of raising revenue to meet infrastructure needs or new services, the City should “take it to the people.” This can be seen as giving more power to the voice of the citizens when it comes to spending their money. It can also be an easy out on making hard decisions, something that Indapure will have to do being a proponent of more services which will require new revenue.
In her closing statement at the candidate forum, Indapure said she believes the City needs to ensure transparency at all levels, a statement that really gets to the heart of our big issues: how we manage.
Finance is Indapure’s weak point. She supports a lot of new programs and projects and thinks the money can be found by moving it around in the budget, through new revenues from the Town Center and through other rather ambiguous hopes.
This position is naïve. But Indapure is a fast study and if elected, we believe it won’t be long before she’s disabused of this notion.
On other issues, be it human services to traffic to the environment, Indapure has attended committee meetings—a level of self-education that is rare because this is where a lot of the knowledge-base comes from for the Council.
Although not the deciding factor by any means, Indapure lives in Klahanie. The area was annexed to Sammamish in 2015 and having a resident on the City Council will be beneficial.
Long-term, Capital and Operating budgets
Her opponent, Ross, is the only candidate with laser focus on City finances and the 10-year horizon. (Other candidates in other races are certainly mindful of finances but with near-term outlooks.)
We believe this is a key issue facing the City. While City Manager Lyman Howard, his predecessor Ben Yazici, and a successive series of City Councils like to point only to the operating budget and its “cross-over point” to potential deficit spending, perhaps five years out, Ross marries the operating budget to the capital budget (as do some other candidates) but in the 10-year horizon.
This sort of long-term planning has been absent since Lee Fellinge went of the Council many years ago.
Beyond finance, however, Ross needs more seasoning.
Ross’ positions on Thrive Sammamish, the Urban Tree Canopy proposal, and reassessing the Town Center plan, have haunting similarities to the positions espoused by Council Member Ramiro Valderrama.
Ross is any ally of Valderrama and received input from him on at the very least the tree canopy plan. Ross says he came to his position on this, and all others, on his own. But the words and reasoning are all too familiar.
His position on reassessing the Town Center plan, which Valderrama advocated a year ago in proposing a building moratorium and the inclusion of which won his vote the for moratorium approved Oct. 4, comes straight out of the Valderrama play book.
(Disclosure: The Comment’s editor, Scott Hamilton, was on the planning commission that wrote the Town Center development plan.)
Ross points to reported poor sales at the Metropolitan Market (which opened last spring) and the need for more residences in the Town Center to support it. There are 2,200 units in the plan, plus more coming from Transfer Development Rights. He claims businesses “are not unhappy” with the moratorium to give time to reassess the plan–a statement we found odd.
Even after further questioning, we are unable to see how businesses will benefit from a moratorium. Reopening the Town Center plan requires a Comprehensive Plan amendment, public process and a minimum of two years, if not three or more, to work through all this. If Met Market has poor sales (something we’ve heard elsewhere), completing the Town Center as quickly as possible is the path, not another delay of three years or more.
We find Ross’ position on the Town Center to be…confused.
On other issues, Ross’ positions seem high-level.
Ross will be a credible Council Member if elected, but two years of seasoning on the Planning Commission would be very beneficial. If he is not elected, he should apply for appointment to the Commission, serve and then run again.
By Scott Hamilton and Jen Baisch.