By Miki Mullor
Ballots for the Sammamish City Council have arrived and voters have a clear choice between two visions.
One is a vision of increasing density in the Town Center and relying on transit to alleviate traffic congestions. One candidate even envisions spreading this vision to 12 other locations in throughout the city.
This is the approach promoted by candidates Karen McKnight, Rituja Indapure and Karen Howe and supported by sitting council members Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart. They support these three for election.
The other vision is an approaching growth in the Town Center and the rest of the city in a measured fashion, weighing development against whether roads, schools, sewer and water can support this growth.
This is the approach promoted by Mayor Christie Malchow, who is seeking reelection, and newcomers to politics Ken Gamblin and Kent Treen.
Outcome also means new council mayor, deputy mayor
This election also will decide who the council leadership will be for the next two years.
If two of the three candidates backed by Ritchie and Stuart win, this flips the majority on the city council to the Ritchie-Stuart faction. This means these two will be the next mayor and deputy mayor, although who is selected by the council for which office is unclear. Both have ambitions for higher office.
Based on many public statements, a Ritchie-Stuart majority will pursue increasing density in the Town Center. Indapure, as planning commissioner, supported the “homegrown” vision to increase density across the city and the so-called “egg splat” vision to put high density in 12 single-family neighborhoods (including her own Klahanie subdivision).
McKnight, to the extent she’s taken any position in the election, has clearly supported expanding the Town Center plan. She, Howe and Indapure are supported by the Washington Conservation Voters who base endorsements in large part on the theory of higher density is good for the environment.
The “McKnight 3” have campaigned with little in the of declarative statements. While McKnight and Indapure have been active in posting on Facebook, these have consisted almost entirely of campaign selfies. They have consistently ignored voters, relying on surrogates.
The McKnight 3 also have imported scores of canvassers to doorbell Sammamish.
They are backed by a Political Action Committee, Livable Sammamish, for which $44,000 was contributed by one of the co-developers of the Town Center. Another $2,000 was donated by former Mayors Don Gerend and Kathy Huckabay. Gerend is suing the city to overturn traffic concurrency standards adopted by the current council majority led by Mayor Malchow.
These were the only three contributors to Livable Sammamish in the run-up to ballots being mailed to voters.
Ramiro Valderrama, who also supports increasing density, is retiring after his second term. He was the leader of the “V3” (including Ritchie, who coined the term, and Stuart).
Ritchie and Stuart aim for a council majority of 5-2 through the defeat of Malchow, Gamblin and Treen. They would settle for a 4-3 majority.
If two of the other three, Malchow, Gamblin or Treen, are elected, the majority of the council will be retained by the control-growth majority that currently consists of Malchow, Tom Hornish, Chris Ross and Karen Moran. Hornish decided not to seek reelection. Ross and Moran aren’t up for election this year.
The current majority, Malchow, Hornish, Ross and Moran, was termed the M4 by Ritchie. Malchow, Gamblin and Treen can be termed the new M3 for this election.
The M3, with Ross and Moran, would continue the directions led by Malchow and Hornish to adopt realistic traffic concurrency analysis, stronger environmental rules, greater building setbacks and greater tree retention.
New development would have to pass muster to these stricter standards.
For the most part, the V3-Valderrama, Ritchie and Stuart—fought these stricter standards, notably on traffic concurrency.
A Political Action Committee, Sammamish Life, backs the M3. More than $40,000 has been contributed from 29 Sammamish residents. Wally Pereyra, Sammamish’s leading environmentalist who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over 25 years fighting development, restoring habitat and protecting Lake Sammamish’s Kokanee salmon, is the top contributor at $25,000. He once was one of Valderrama’s strongest supporters, but broke with him over Valderamma’s pro-growth agenda over the last four years.
The second largest contributor is Harry Shedd, another erx-Valderrama supporter who broke with him for the same reason. Shedd contributed $10,000 to Sammamish Life.
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