Closing thoughts on the Sammamish City Council election

Tuesday is Election Day, but ballots have been out for more than two weeks. As we count down to Tuesday’s voting for City Council, a few closing thoughts are in order.

Stepping up to the front lines

Hamilton KING5_2

By Scott Hamilton. Photo via Google images.

First, I want to say right up front that as much as I have come to disagree with the direction of the current City Council, I respect and applaud each member’s willingness to step up, serve and be in a position to take the criticism that comes with a public position. Having served eight years on the Planning Advisory Board and the Planning Commission, I was subjected to more than my share of abuse from the public. But let me tell you: each person serving on any city commission and on the City Council deserves the recognition that too few people step up to do the job, and those that do deserve at least a modicum of respect and thanks for doing so.

New Voices, New Perspectives Needed

Having said that, our City Council needs new voices and new perspectives.

I’ve chronicled all year issue after issue on which this City Council and its leadership has failed its citizens. Public records obtained through the Public Records Requests, documents on the City website and through interviews paint a picture of a City Council that has lost touch with its citizens and which has become more interested in maintaining its own power structure and agenda.

Even though the self-branded environmentalists indignantly protest criticism over a belief they have strayed from their brand, the evidence is compelling. The variances routinely granted by staff on traffic and environmental issues in approving development are well documented. Where have these self-branded environmentalists been in providing the oversight of the City Manager, and through him, the staff, for which they are responsible? One letter writer to The Sammamish Review supporting Mayor Tom Vance for reelection said the next council needs to focus on the environment. That’s what this Council and this mayor were supposed to do. The letter writer wrote, “Soon the current city manager will be leaving and I’m hoping that a new era will start – one that focuses on the environment and the original intention of incorporation.” Where was Vance’s leadership, as Mayor for two years and a Council Member for four years, in upholding the “original intention of incorporation”? There has been a huge failure of leadership–Vance’s leadership–and of the self-branded environmentalists on the current City Council. Why reelect the failed leadership in hopes of a “new era?”

When you have a staff that routinely ignores City codes in traffic and environment, and follows unwritten policies, something is very wrong.

When you have a Council that still does not get that the movement behind the Initiative and Referendum was the manifestation of citizens feeling unheard—not because of any burning issue to put up to an Initiative–something is very wrong.

When 55.5% of the people who voted approved the I&R and you still have members of the Council who attempt to diminish the result, something is very wrong.

When you have City Council Members who try to throw a planning commissioner off the commission because she supported the Initiative and Referendum, something is very wrong.

When you have the mayor of the City (not Vance in this case) calling the school superintendent to discipline a school principal because she supported retention of the Eastside Fire and Rescue in contrast to the mayor’s position, something is very wrong.

When you have scores and scores of property owners pleading with the City because King County is trashing the environment and over-reaching on property concerns to build a freeway-like lake trail, only to be ignored until it is too late, something is very wrong.

When the Ruling Majority blithely dismisses the minority members because they can, something is very wrong.

When you have members of the Ruling Majority undertake frontal and covert assaults on one Council member through front-people filing massive email Public Records Requests in an attempt to dig up dirt that doesn’t exist, something is very wrong.

When you have a City Administration and City Council give lip service to disaster preparedness, something is very wrong.

The examples go on and on.

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Sammamish Initiative and Referendum effective

  • 37 of 47 precincts approve the Initiative and Referendum.
  • All precincts where Council Members and Candidates for Council live approved I&R.
  • City and certain Council Members engaged in secret campaign against the vote and to undermine information.

The power of Initiative and Referendum became effective in Sammamish yesterday.

Hary Shedd 2

Harry Shedd, chairman of Citizens for Sammamish, led the charge to get the Sammamish City Council to adopt the Initiative and Referendum.

When the City was incorporated in 1999, the power of I&R wasn’t included in the City charter. Omission was claimed by City officials a decade and a half later to have been an oversight, but Karen Moran and Di Irons, two citizens involved in the incorporation at the time, said City officials deliberately left the power out.

Regardless, Citizens for Sammamish, a grass roots group chaired by Harry Shedd, pressed the current City Council last year to adopt an ordinance granting the power. The Council refused, with a majority simply opposed to giving Sammamish voters the right to I&R. Shedd continued his crusade and in January this year, the Council agreed at its retreat to put the issue to a non-binding Advisory vote. It later set April 28 as the election date.

Although a majority of the Council informally said at the retreat they would honor the outcome of the Advisory vote, and later officially said they would remain neutral, in fact the City and several Council members engaged in a stealth campaign to defeat the I&R, sow confusion, disseminate misinformation and suppress information and ultimately voting.

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Two Council Members voted against advancing the I&R to an enabling ordinance after the Advisory vote passed by a 55.5%-44.5% margin: Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay and Member Tom Odell.

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Standing up to government and for the citizens; or standing up for the status quo

The Sammamish City Council election this year has a number of issues before voters. One of the key issues is not about roads or trees or parks or finances. It’s about a philosophy of government. It’s about standing up to the government and for the citizens or standing up for the status quo.

Tom Vance

Mayor Tom Vance, seeking reelection, and Mark Cross, a former mayor and city councilman seeking to return to the Council after a four year absence, stand for the status quo. They have endorsed each other for election.

Christie Malchow

Council Member Ramiro Valderrama, seeking reelection to a second term, Christie Malchow (running opposite Cross) and Tom Hornish (opposite Vance), both newcomers, stand for standing up to government and for the citizens.

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