By Celia Wu and Miki Mullor
The Sammamish Comment sat down for an interview with City Council candidate Rituja Indapure. Indapure was a candidate in the 2017 election and lost to now Council Member Chris Ross. In 2018, Indapure was appointed to the City’s Planning Commission.
She has filed for the seat currently held by Tom Hornish, who is completing his first term. He has not declared whether he will run for another four-year term.
The Comment: Why are you running?
I love Sammamish. Sixteen years ago, my husband and I decided to move to Sammamish to raise our family. I’m running because I want to protect the city. I want to keep Sammamish the way it was.
The Comment: What do you mean by “the way it was?”
The sense of community. As we grow, that has been a challenge. The average growth has been 2% every year since 2000.
How do we get that sense that we all belong to the same Sammamish? I think that’s a challenge that comes with growth and I would like to see more programming that brings the community together. We have great programs like the 4th of July.
We have a lot more development. Throughout the  campaign, I heard people ask, what is happening to our trees? Why don’t we have development codes that can be enforced?
How do we make sure new development reflects the character of our community? Many of us came here to raise a family. So it’s safety for all of us. When you build a home, making sure that you have sidewalks is a safety concern.
On 228th, kids walking from Pine Lake — there’s no sidewalk there. That’s a safety concern. I’ve seen seniors walk on the side of the road. I heard about walkability as well. Safety in walking. We used to have a Metro King County bus shuttle which would go from Klahanie to near the Grey Barn and up again to Safeway. It was used extensively by the seniors in our community. People brought that up as well.
The Comment: You ran two years ago. What is different today?
My values are the same. I believe we should protect our environment. We should have more options for transit. We should look at partnering with cities around us to resolve our traffic issues.
My experience on the Planning Commission gives me a sense of what it means to tackle policy, look at legislation, look at code. How do you work collaboratively with seven people who might have different opinions. At the end of the day we are all in public service.
Last year, I was appointed to the Washington State Women’s Commission by Governor Inslee. That has given me tremendous exposure to the challenges our communities face.
I work for Costco. We take care of our employees. And that is something I bring to my campaign — we take care of our citizens first.
The Comment: We have three incumbents up for re-election this year. Which of them are you challenging?
I’m waiting to see who’s going to run. I think all three of them (Editor’s note: Hornish, Malchow, Valderrama) have done an excellent job.
There has been an acknowledgment that we need to work towards ensuring that our city is equitable. We need to have more housing for teachers and firefighters.
The Comment: Is there any specific policy that council has enacted this year that you oppose or want to change?
[Recently] on the [transportation concurrency volume-to-capacity] calculation, we didn’t change anything in the Planning Commission. The council met with us to bring us up to speed. Within the council itself, there’s been disagreements on whether it should be 1.1 or 1.4.
The Comment: You touched on concurrency. Do you agree with the current policy?
I am not traffic engineer. I don’t know the difference going from 1.1 to 1.4 or 1.5 or 1.7 would make. I think we focus first on the Transportation Master Plan (TMP).
All the forecasts in the 2024 forecast are based on the assumption that everything in the TMP has been completed. As you know, there is no funding for it. Where are we going to get the money to fund all these huge projects? Those are the questions that I want answered.
The Comment: There is a balancing act of growth and infrastructure. Some voices say we should pause development until we catch up on infrastructure. Some voices say we need more development to pay for infrastructure. And there are some voices who don’t want growth at all. Where do you fall?
Going back to why we moved here, we moved here for the schools. We moved here to raise a family. We are going to have more and more people come through. We are also going to see a lot of seniors who cannot afford to live here anymore.
We have around 32,000 people who leave the city to work. We have three to four thousand people who come into the city to work. We are putting a lot of pressure on our exit points. It’s imperative that we work with our neighboring cities. Light rail is coming to Marymoor Park. How are we working with Redmond to get our citizens from Sammamish to Redmond? There is no direct bus.
Mercer Island did a pilot program where they partnered with Uber and Lyft. Within six months they had almost 6,000 people using that service. We need to think about these public – private partnerships.
The Comment: These solutions could take years. What happens in the meantime?
These issues didn’t happen in one day. They are not going to get fixed in one day.
Last year we worked on a development code that tried to bring together all the things we like about Sammamish. We made sure that people have room for their yards. We made sure people have sidewalks. If a fire truck comes through, it can turn around. We need to make sure those codes get implemented.
The Comment: Concurrency has paused development because infrastructure has not kept up. A new city council can come in and say we are going to change concurrency and allow development to resume, or they can say they are going to keep it the way it is, or make it even stricter. What’s your position?
Infrastructure has not kept up with growth. I want to see how we are able to fund all those improvements in the TIP [Editor’s note: TIP: Traffic Improvement Projects: list of roads project the city is planning] before making a decision on newer development. It’s imperative that our infrastructure keeps up with growth.
The Comment: The controversy around the Town Center is not the services — its the 2,200 units that come with it, approved based on concurrency that we now know was fraudulent. Would you support a revisit to the Town Center plan and number of dwelling units?
My priority first would be services. I have not seen the whole plan for the 2,200 units, so I’m not well versed to make a statement. I want to see how the TMP can solve our traffic issues.
The Comment: Any final thoughts?
We need to keep moving forward. We’ve spent so much money on plans. Now it’s time to put them into action. I saw a really impressive plan called Sustainable Sammamish. I would like to see that put in place.
We need to have our youth involved in our city because they are our future. We as a city need to decide how we want to be as we go ahead. Do we want a city of just young families? Or do we also want to be a city that takes care of its seniors.
We are a growing immigrant population. Those voices need to be heard. There’s a misconception that people think if they can’t vote they can’t be participants in the city. They absolutely can. It’s important to make them feel welcome.
Communication is probably the most important point. Over the years I have worked hard to build trust. With my experience working in the corporate world I hope to bring those strengths to the table if I get on the Council.
The above are excerpts from the 43 minutes interview. The full audio of the interview is available here: