Sammamish City Council evolves into new 4-3 split

  • This is the inside story about how old alliances on the Sammamish City Council broke down and how new ones have been formed.


If there was any question following the first two or three months of the seating of the current Sammamish city council, all doubt was removed Tuesday: the council is split 4-3 along new alliances.

The debate Tuesday over Council Member Tom Hornish’s decision to step down as deputy mayor and from committees but not resign from the council had all the appearances of a power play led by Council Member Ramiro Valderrama.

One council member characterized the split as the new “V-3” and “M-4” factions, with the V-3 being Valderrama, Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart and the M-4 being Mayor Christie Malchow, Hornish, Karen Moran and Chris Ross.

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Valderrama’s hypocrisy over Hornish issue


Ramiro Valderrama

Sammamish City Council member Ramiro Valderrama displayed hypocrisy last Tuesday in his aggressive attempt to force fellow member Tom Hornish to remain on committees following acceptance of a new job in the private sector.

Two years ago, Valderrama sought a new job in the public sector that would have had direct conflict of interest with his city council position. It would have meant choosing between his new job and the council when it came to attending meetings and committee meetings. It likely meant Valderrama would have missed the council’s annual retreat at which goals and committee assignments are made for the coming year.

Yet Valderrama vowed to retain his council position if he got the new job and brushed aside all objections from his constituents.

When Hornish stepped up and recognized time constraints were coming, resigned his position as deputy mayor and stepped off all but one committee, Valderrama—oblivious o his own actions two years earlier—objected and engaged in a transparent attempt to set Hornish up to fail and ultimately force him off the council.

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Give Hornish a chance, city attorney advises council

  • The city council meeting may be viewed here. The discussion begins at 8:30 and continues o 46:30 minutes. It resumes at the 2:11 hour mark for committee assignments.

The Sammamish city council should give Tom Hornish up to 90-120 days to assimilate into his new job and determine how much time he can devote to the council, the city attorney said Tuesday.

Tom Hornish

But three council members pressed instead to hold Hornish’s feet to the fire and require him to maintain his committee memberships.

Members Ramiro Valderrama, Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart were unwilling to give Hornish a pass until they lost on his announcement Tuesday that a new job requires he relinquish his position as deputy mayor and membership to the council finance committee and regional groups, Eastside Fire & Rescue and ARCH, the affordable housing group.

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Hornish steps down as deputy mayor in heated meeting

Tom Hornish

Tom Hornish stepped down Tuesday as deputy mayor but remains on then Sammamish City Council as an elected member.

Hornish has taken a new job that will require heavy travel in the next several months. He announced that he has to step down from council and regional committees while he assimilates into the new position.

Karen Moran was selected by the council to be deputy mayor on a 4-3 vote. Ramiro Valderrama was nominated by Pam Stuart to succeed Hornish. Jason Ritchie joined with Stuart and Valderrama to vote for Valderrama.

Moran, nominated by Chris Ross, receive her own vote along with Ross, Mayor Christie Malchow and Hornish.

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