Revisiting the 2015 election

With the 2019 Sammamish City Council race underway, Sammamish Comment looked back at the 2015 race in which Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish were elected for the first time and Ramiro Valderrama was reelected to a second term.

Malchow is seeking reelection. Hornish and Valderrama are retiring. Malchow defeated former city council member and mayor Mark Cross, who was seeking a comeback after a four year hiatus. He was closely aligned with Mayor Tom Vance, who was seeking reelection to a second term. Malchow won with 58% of the vote, a landslide.

Hornish defeated Vance, making him only the second incumbent Sammamish council member and the only sitting mayor in the city’s history to be defeated. Vance won his 2011 election with 67% of the vote against a weak candidate. He lost his reelection, receiving only 47% of the vote, a 20 percentage point drop. Hornish was a reluctant candidate, running because he didn’t want to see Vance run unopposed.

Valderrama defeated Hank Klein, who withdrew from the race too late to be removed from the ballot. Valderrama used his huge win, with 85% of the vote, as a springboard to run in 2016 for the State Legislative House against Democrat Roger Goodman. Goodman, a flawed candidate who should have been easy to defeat, hammered Valderrama by capturing 62% of the 45th District vote. Valerrama only captured 40% of the Sammamish vote in the 45th–a dismal showing compared with his 2015 and 2011 results.

Some of the issues then remain issues today: Tamarack storm water drainage, Sahalee Way and, as always, development.

Here’s a retrospective of that election.

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Valderrama’s hypocrisy over Hornish issue

Analysis

Ramiro Valderrama

Sammamish City Council member Ramiro Valderrama displayed hypocrisy last Tuesday in his aggressive attempt to force fellow member Tom Hornish to remain on committees following acceptance of a new job in the private sector.

Two years ago, Valderrama sought a new job in the public sector that would have had direct conflict of interest with his city council position. It would have meant choosing between his new job and the council when it came to attending meetings and committee meetings. It likely meant Valderrama would have missed the council’s annual retreat at which goals and committee assignments are made for the coming year.

Yet Valderrama vowed to retain his council position if he got the new job and brushed aside all objections from his constituents.

When Hornish stepped up and recognized time constraints were coming, resigned his position as deputy mayor and stepped off all but one committee, Valderrama—oblivious o his own actions two years earlier—objected and engaged in a transparent attempt to set Hornish up to fail and ultimately force him off the council.

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Council nears decision to send annual January Retreat back to Suncadia, across mountains

After starting 2016 with a new era of transparency and access, the Sammamish City Council may revert to holding its annual January retreat at the Suncadia Resort in Roslyn, east of the Cascade Mountains.

The timing–January 19-22–puts at risk driving over Snoqualmie Pass in a winter storm. The location makes it difficult and unlikely all but the most diehard members of the community will attend the meetings. It’s also costly: being more than an hour away, over the pass and through the woods means anyone going has to rent a hotel room for the three-day retreat.

Even the Sammamish Review and Issaquah/Sammamish Reporter historically don’t show up to report on the meetings and hold the City Council accountable to the public.

Only Sammamish Comment made the trek in January 2015, the first time it had done so.

maptosuncadia
The long drive over the mountains and through the woods to the Suncadia Resort for the Sammamish annual Council Retreat could be longer and challenging in the January winter storms, but that’s where the City Council is thinking of going in January 2017.

Captive audience and no audience

Council members chose the location in the past to make it difficult for their own members, and staff, to leave the retreat meetings. But it also meant that despite the days being open meetings, the practical effect was they that were closed. No public participation occurred.

During 2015, The Comment made an issue of this. Toby Nixon, then-president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, criticized the Sammamish City Council for the location, lack of transparency and lack of access for citizens. Nixon, then as now a member of the Kirkland City Council, said Kirkland in 2015 chose the Beaver Lake Lodge for its retreat, right here in Sammamish.

The public pressure caused the 2015 Council to delay site selection. The November 2015 Council election saw the defeat of Mayor Tom Vance and his allies, Mark Cross and Hank Klein. Council member Ramiro Valderrama was reelected, along with newcomers Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish. The latter three made it known to then-City Manager Ben Yazici, who was retiring in February 2016, and his successor, Deputy City Manager Lyman Howard, that they wanted the retreat at a more local site.

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Lake Trail overhangs Sammamish politics for 20 years

  • This is about 10 pages when printed.

City_of_SammamishJune 5, 2016: Development of the East Lake Sammamish Trail has been an overhang of Sammamish politics for 20 years.

It was a dominate factor in the first City Council race 1999 and surfaced again in 2001. It became a key issue in the 2003 election, with a flood of “outside” money flowing to candidates favoring the Trail.

The issue surfaced periodically in subsequent elections. It wasn’t until 2015 that once more it became a key election issue, as Trail residents rallied behind three candidates to win bitterly contested races. For the first time, they helped elect a resident who lives along the Trail.

And the issue hasn’t subsided, either.

In April, three Council Members voted to undercut the City’s own Hearing Examiner and side with King County, developer of the Trail, on a jurisdictional issue in an appeal before the State Shoreline Hearings Board.

This is the story behind the 20-year battle of the ELST.

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Top 10 stories of 2015 in Sammamish

Sammamish Comment LogoHere are the Top 10 stories in Sammamish for 2015, as measured by readership on Sammamish Comment:

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Precinct-by-precinct analysis of Sammamish City Council election

A precinct-by-precinct analysis of the Nov. 3 Sammamish City Council election demonstrates that development concerns and a muffed plan for the Sahalee Way road projects helped lead the way to victory for Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish over Mark Cross and Tom Vance.

Ramiro Valderrama faced only token opposition, and therefore Sammamish Comment hasn’t spent a lot of time analyzing his race against Hank Klein. Klein dropped out of the race too late to take his name off the ballot. He didn’t campaign or raise money.

Here’s what The Comment’s analysis found:

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Final Nov. 3 Sammamish City Council Results

The final results of the Nov. 3 Sammamish City Council election confirm Christie Malchow, Ramiro Valderrama and Tom Hornish the winners over Mark Cross, Hank Klein and Tom Vance.Final Results 2015

King County Elections posted the results shortly after 4pm today.

As Sammamish Comment reported on Election Night in calling the winners as noted above, the final results didn’t vary more than 1%-2% from Election Night. The three winners increased their vote tally margin daily until returned ballots trickled out.

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