By Miki Mullor
- Three candidates voice concern over apparent bias
- Chamber’s President is a candidate opposing Mayor Malchow
- The proposed moderator contributed funds to a candidate’s campaign, heard saying that city council needs to change
By Miki Mullor
At least a half dozen supporters of Sammamish Council Member Ramiro Valderrama who lent their names to his Endorsements page on his campaign website have been pressured and intimidated to remove their names, eliminate references to their titles and affiliations and in some cases, drop their endorsement of Valderrama and endorse his opponent, Hank Klein, a Sammamish Comment investigation has shown.
In addition, efforts are underway by Valderrama’s opponents to dig up “dirt” to make allegations of impropriety in the closing weeks of the campaign, it has been learned.
The pressure and intimidation have been traced to some members of the so-called Gang of 4, the ruling majority of the Sammamish City Council, according to interviews.
Update, Sept. 23: Deb Sogge, executive director of the Sammamish Chamber, responded today to the emails sent Sunday about the objections Sammamish Comment reported coming from Mayor Tom Vance about videotaping the October 7 candidates’ forum.
Sogge was one of four people to make the decision to not tape; the other three were Bob Toomey, president of the Chamber; CJ Kahler, treasurer of Rotary and Bill Shaw, publisher of the Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter, who will moderate the event. Shaw could not be reached when any of The Comment’s articles were written because he was on vacation.
Kahler told The Comment that “a couple of candidates” objected to videotaping. The Comment verified that Ramiro Valderrama, Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish favor taping. Valderrama said he encountered Mark Cross at the Farmer’s Market last week, who said he also favored taping. Cross did not respond to an email from The Comment. That elft Vance, who also did not respond to an email asking if he objected and why.
In a later interview with Toomey, he said Vance objected and provided detail surrounding the issue. He said Sogge spoke with Vance and told him that a commitment made to Vance not to tape should be honored.
In today’s response, Sogge denied all of this. She said Vance agreed to taping. Vance continues to stonewall The Comment. As noted in the report below, Kahler is, appears, the key holdout.
The Sammamish Rotary and Sammamish Chamber of Commerce have stuck to their
decision to not videotape the Sammamish City Council candidates forum, which will be at 7pm October 7 at the Boys and Girls Club, Inglewood Hill Road and NE 8th St.
A Chamber official confirmed the decision Friday to Sammamish Comment.
Sammamish Comment also confirmed that Mayor Tom Vance, who is running for reelection, objected to videotaping and the groups agreed to forego taping. The four other active candidates favor videotaping. Vance did not respond to a request for comment for the original story last Thursday when it first appeared he had objected.
“I think this shows a lack of transparency in our government leadership,” said Tom Hornish, Vance’s opponent in the November 3 election.
There will be a Sammamish City Council candidates forum the evening of October 7 at the Boys and Girls Club (Inglewood Hill Road at 228th Ave. NE), but it won’t be videotaped for later broadcast on the City’s government TV (Channel 21, Comcast).
Objections by a “couple” of candidates to videotaping and concerns to do so would politicize the event led the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce and the Sammamish Rotary to ban videotaping, CJ Kahler, treasurer of the Rotary, told Sammamish Comment.
The candidates are:
Kahler said he didn’t talk to the candidates and doesn’t know who objected. Malchow, Valderrama and Hornish say it wasn’t them. Cross reportedly favors taping. Vance’s position in unknown.