By Miki Mullor
- Sammamish Life PAC announced on Facebook
- Raised $36,000 to date, more than any other campaign
- Opposes overdevelopment, concerned over quality of life
- Stated support for three candidates
Last week, Michael Scoles, a relatively unknown newcomer to the Sammamish local politics arena, announced on Facebook a formation of “Sammamish Life,” a new PAC (Political Action Committee) to “keep Sammamish livable,” per its website (www.samm-life.com).
Record amount raised, solely from Sammamish residents
A PAC is third party campaign, separate from a candidate’s campaign, that is allowed to spend money to support candidates or ballot measures. Unlike campaign contributions that are limited to $1,000 per person, contributions to a PAC are unlimited. Candidates are not allowed to coordinate activities with a PAC.
Sammamish Life has already raised more than $36,000 in campaign contributions from 11 donors, a record raise for any political campaign in Sammamish.
“At this rate, we hope to exceed our fundraising goal,” says Scoles. “I think people in Sammamish finally see that voting matters with the changes the current council enacted. After 18 years of pro-development policies, we finally voted in a pro-resident majority 18 months ago and we can already see a change in direction. That gives residents hope.”
Scoles said the PAC will only accept contributions from Sammamish residents and is exclusively focused on local issues in Sammamish. It will remain non-partisan (city council seats are non-partisan, unlike state Legislature or US Congress seats).
“I think it’s important to show where the money comes from,” Scoles said. “It obviously shows the donor’s intent.”
In the 2017 city council election year, there was not an active PAC that wasn’t business-driven. The Master Builders Association’s PAC, The Affordable Housing Council, spent thousands of dollars of campaign money to promote Pam Stuart, Rituja Indapure and Karen Moran. Master Builders is the developers’ trade associations and lobbying group.
A New comer to Sammamish politics
Scoles is relatively new to Sammamish politics. He had been a relatively quiet observer until he started the “Vote Sammamish” Facebook page a couple of months ago.
“I’ve been living in Sammamish since 2006 and am raising a family here with two kids,” said Scoles, who is a dentist and a Navy veteran. “I just couldn’t sit quiet and do nothing in light of how the over development is threatening the quality of life here. I was inspired to take action when my wife, who is terrified of public speaking, stood up in a crowded council meeting, and spoke against lifting the moratorium on development.”
Notable local environmentalist supporter
A notable large supporter of Sammamish Life is Wally Pereyra, according to a PDC Public Disclosure committee filing. Pereyra is the chairman of Arctic Storm Management Group, a Seattle-based fishing company and holds a PhD in fisheries.
He is a long-time Sammamish resident who is well known locally for fighting for environmental causes and especially for his efforts to preserve the local race of Kokanee salmon (“the little red fish”), that is unique to Lake Sammamish. Pereyra has spent considerable sums of his own money to take developers to court for violating development codes and harming the environment.
In 2015, in a most notable case, Chestnut Estates West, Pereyra together with a few other citizens and a local group, the Friends of Pine Lake, took William Buchan Homes to court and won after they got approval from the city to build a road through a designated open space.
One of those citizens opposing Buchan’s development was Christie Malchow, before she successfully ran for city council in the November 2015 election. She is seeking reelection this year.
Their win will likely protect other open spaces from development as the court’s ruling on how “open space” is defined in Sammamish Municipal code will prevent future such infringements.
Supporting three candidates
Sammamish Life website states the PAC will support Malchow, Ken Gamblin and Kent Treen.
“There is too much on the line,” says Scoles. ‘I’ve been following the council in the last 18 months and am horrified by the influence developers have on the city. While no candidate is perfect, we decided to support those candidates who have a track record of opposing the influence of developers in our politics and who are willing to make the tough decisions to protect the city.”
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