Former Mayor Odell backs Malchow, Gamblin, Treen

By Tom Odell

Guest Column

It’s that time again.  The time that you, as a resident, citizen, and hopefully a voter, get to decide on the future of our both our local government as well as that of the City of Sammamish.

Tom Odell

The decision immediately at hand over the next few days is nothing less that the future nature of our city, Sammamish.  Your opportunity to be heard – and counted – will expire next Tuesday evening, November 5th.

At stake is the composition and direction of the next Sammamish City Council.  The choice should be clear:  one side is for unabated and unrestricted development within our city while the other is for moderated growth that keeps pace with our ability to handle it in terms of the capacity of our transportation system, the schools, and our ability to deal with increasing stormwater runoff issues.

Quality of life, environment

Then there is the issue of the physical nature of our city (i.e. environment).  Also our quality of life.  Many of us, myself included, moved here for the open spaces, tree canopy, schools, and what then was moderate traffic.  If we wanted density we would have gone elsewhere rather than settle in Sammamish.

“Progress” in terms of further housing developments and commercial activity, will – and should – continue.  The questions are how much, how fast, what does it look like, and what will be the effect on our environment and commute.  Contrary to rumor, Sammamish does NOT have to take more growth than it can handle – now or in the future.  The infrastructure MUST be able to handle it!

Political candidates often say what on the surface appears to be similar things.  However, once in office they can and sometimes do change and adopt a course which is not congruent with what they said during campaigns.  We have a couple of examples of this on the current Council.  These Councilmembers ran on dialing back the pace of development and protecting tree cover but who in fact appear to be more closely aligned with the development community than they are with the interests of the residents, especially those who have been here for more than a few years.

It needs to be said – and remembered – that the developers are by and large outsiders who have only a very short-term interest in the city.  After the projects are finished, they, and their money, will be gone and the rest of us have to live with the consequences of their actions.

So, the crucial issue for the citizens and voters of Sammamish is development.  How much.  Where.  How fast.  Also, what does it look like and what are the knock-on effects on the rest of us.  We get to decide, not they (despite the significant dollars being spent on attack campaign flyers).

This Election

There are three of the seven seats up for decision this coming week.  Two are open as their current members have decided to not seek reelection for personal reasons.  The third is occupied by Christie Malchow, the current city Mayor.

In my opinion, and I was in an excellent position to watch, Christie has done an awful lot to keep Sammamish on even keel over the last four years and in particular during the two years that she has spent as mayor.

  • Together with me and most of the rest of the Council, called a time out while the city’s traffic model which was a key part of the process for approving building permits, was overhauled.
  • Led a Council initiative on improving Sammamish’s human services and public safety.
  • Was focused on improving our infrastructure – roads, sidewalks, stormwater, and schools – to keep pace with and even get ahead of the pace of development.
  • Pushed for improved public safety by working with our police chief and reviewing our law enforcement coverage.


Many of the things that she is accused by the opposition PAC of not having done are frankly the result of votes taken by the Council as a whole and cannot be attributed to her alone:

  • Delay in adoption of a Transportation Master Plan:

This was in fact a decision that resulted from having to sort out the traffic model and to come up with a version that in fact more closely reflected reality and driver experiences.  The Council as a whole supported doing this.

  • Loss of one of Sammamish’s fire stations:

To pin this on Christie is bogus.  It was a direct result of certain Councilmembers who represent the city on the Eastside Fire board not attending meetings and reporting back what was to the Council.  Staff didn’t either, so most of the Council was in the dark on this move.

  • Human services:

Christie was instrumental in setting up the Human Services Commission that recommends both the organizations to be supported and the funding levels to do so.

  • Protection of city data and technology systems:

This is squarely the responsibility of both the City Manager and the entire Council, not the Mayor by herself.

  • Trail connections between the Sammamish Commons and Big Rock Park:

Former Mayor Don Gerend’s pet project was not her responsibility to make happen.  The city had to resort to the use of eminent domain for acquisition of the needed trail right of way, all of which took time.  The right of way has now been acquired.

  • Workforce housing:

This is an issue that goes well beyond the ability of any Sammamish Mayor to influence by themselves, especially given Sammamish’s retail housing market.  All of the residential property in the Town Center project has a minimum affordability requirement and there are incentives for project developers to add to that.

  • No new transit:

Members of the Sammamish City Council have been trying for years to get both Metro and Sound Transit to provide both additional and improved bus service to our city.   Together with Councilmember Kathy Huckabay, I spent several years and a whole lot of time as members of the Regional Transit Committee and the Council’s Transit Committee trying to change this without much success.  Recently the city did obtain a shuttle service.

It is both interesting and very disturbing that the attacks on Christie, Ken Gamblin, and Kent Treen are coming from the PAC that is funded almost entirely by the development community and not those who will have to live with the results of this election.

Please read between the lines and decide who has the city’s interests – and yours – most at heart.  I am supporting Malchow, Gamblin, and Treen for the Sammamish City Council.

Tom Odell

Former Councilmember and Mayor

City of Sammamish


12 thoughts on “Former Mayor Odell backs Malchow, Gamblin, Treen

  1. Anyone who votes for any of the other 3 developer stooges is a fool. Unfortunately I have little faith in the critical thinking abilities of the general populace. Hopefully they will prove me wrong in case.

    • Greg, that’s the “anyone who disagrees with me is a fool” fallacy, and sounds eerily similar to the propaganda that emanates from the other Washington. And I probably agree with you on the issues themselves.

      If a voter thinks that TC development makes her property more valuable and she wants to monetize that value as quickly as possible, then voting for pro-development candidates is economically rational for her. You may disagree with the social consequences of her motivation, but it isn’t “foolish.”

      If a voter is convinced that vertically concentrated development is more beneficial to the community than horizontally diffuse development, then voting for the pro-development candidates who are promoting TC is internally consistent behavior. It isn’t “foolish” just because someone else can evaluate the same arguments and reach a different conclusion.

      Deeming those who disagree as “foolish” is counterproductive, not only because it tends to make your opponents shut down and dig in their heels, but more importantly because it distracts from the real issues.

      By “real issues” I’m referring to the appearance of malfeasance on the part of city staff and some council members. For example, we now have a self-admitted city employee trying to influence the election of councilmembers on another local blog (while admitting to trying to mask his or her identity), which raises all kinds of policy and ethical issues. We need to pursue the structural deficiencies of the processes, and the apparent ethical deficiencies of some of the players who have been entrusted to act in the public interest, if we want to solve problems for the long haul. Calling those who disagree with you “fools” doesn’t advance any cause.

      And as for Mr. Odell, thanks for a well-reasoned and illuminating perspective.

  2. The constant canned refrain of three of the candidates – residents, and neighbors – as “for unabated and unrestricted development” is getting ridiculous. This blog has lost its way this year.This City has got the most bumbling council it’s ever seen since inception and all we get is mud-slinging at challengers. Maybe it’s a sign we’re a bigger city now – irrational and unrestrained nastiness.

  3. Dear Fellow Citizens,
    Never support anyone who is funded by developers. Why would a developer want to spend their money on our local campaigns? They don’t do it for our good, they do it for themselves. Might we have something they want? It is so sad, we can’t undo all the awful things that have happened to our city at the developer’s gain but if you vote Gamblin, Malchow, and Treen we have chance to take back this city and move forward more ethically and responsibly.

  4. Thank you so much, Tom Odell, for your letter/column to the residents. Yours is a succinct, thoughtful and easy to understand presentation which is sorely needed at this critical time. I only hope the voters read what you have to say.

  5. Although I’ve held respect for former Mayoro Odell’s work on City Council in the past, it appears he doesn’t. If the former mayor was against growth, why did he repeatedly vote for the Town Center? And why does an experienced politician resort to, “my side’s angels and the rest are demons,” with no possibility of both sides having some faults?

    It is so much easier to blame everything on the opposition in a scorched earth argument than it is to try to meet in the middle. So, Tom, where were you while the evil empire plotted to take over our community? Oh, that’s right. You were one of our mayors.

    What will it take to remember the Town Center didn’t happen overnight? What memory jarring is necessary to remind ourselves a fair amount of the planning was mandated by the King County Growth Management Act some time ago? For those who now have their big or small abodes on the land where cougars and bears used to roam free, what gives you the hubris to declare, “I have my piece, growth stops here?!?”

    Come on, folks, we’re better than these simplistic and polarizing remarks. How about putting down the slings and arrows and meeting for civil, civic discourse?

  6. Tom Odell: Thank you Tom for your comment. Your comments and perspective are important to all Sammamish residents in the upcoming election. While I have not always agreed with you in the past, I am 100% behind your comments on this issue. Thank you once again for speaking out. Sammamish needs strong leadership now. Malchow, Gamblin & Treen are our future.

  7. What’s the common theme – a lack of focus on the people of Sammamish! I had one interaction with the soon to be former mayor. I asked her to put a crosswalk and bus cover on Sahalee Way so our special needs daughter could cross the street safely to catch the bus. The soon to be former mayor blamed Metro for no funding and pushed the whole discussion to the next planning cycle. No follow up, no action! Typical behavior. Vote her out! Save our city!

  8. I am Chair Person of the 45th District Democrats. Our endorsed candidates in the Sammamish council races are Rituja Indapure, Karen Howe, and Karen McKnight. These endorsements were unanimously recommended by our Endorsements Committee, and each was overwhelmingly approved by our Body.

    Rituja, Karen and Karen were also endorsed by the 41st District Democrats, and the 5th District Democrats. Our local Districts endorse separately and independent of each other.

    Obviously, these endorsements will mean more to some people than to others, but to be clear: These three are the endorsed candidates by the three Democratic districts with members living in Sammamish.

    Local races inspire at least as much emotion, and in some cases hyperbole, as any other. This term the 45th has hard-fought and emotional races in Woodinville and Redmond, as well as Sammamish. All the Districts’ Endorsement Committees work hard to bring reasoned and (to the extent possible) dispassionate recommendations to their respective Bodies.

    Incidentally, current council members Jason Ritchie and Pam Stuart were also endorsed by the 45th in their respective races last term.

    The 45th District’s online endorsement guide can be found at

    Dave Williams
    Chair, 45th District Democrats

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