By Tom Odell
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.
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).
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.
Former Councilmember and Mayor
City of Sammamish