Rossi, Nixon, Hussey nominated for Andy Hill’s seat; Valderrama passes

Valderrama

Ramiro Valderrama

Precinct committeemen of the 45th Legislative District selected Dino Rossi, Toby Nixon and Joel Hussey as their candidates to forward to the King County Council to fill the vacancy on an interim basis created by the death of State Sen. Andy Hill, a Republican.

Sammamish Deputy Mayor Ramiro Valderrama, who just lost his bid for the State House for the 45th, as a Republican, was nominated but withdrew his name to concentrate on his current duties as a City Councilman.

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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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Open government expert criticizes Sammamish plan for council retreat east of mountains in Roslyn

The president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government criticized Sammamish’s location for its annual city council retreat Jan. 22-24 at the Suncadia Resort in Roslyn, east of the mountains, an hour and a half away over Snoqualmie Pass.

Sammamish will once again hold its annual retreat an hour-and-a-half away from the city, east of the Cascades Mountains in Roslyn, over Snoqualmie Pass. This makes it less likely citizens and reporters will attend to see what’s happening out of sight and out of mind.

Toby Nixon, who is also a city councilman in Kirkland, said Sammamish should hold its retreat preferably in the “jurisdiction” so citizens who wish to attend may do so easily.

Sammamish city council member Nancy Whitten unsuccessfully made this argument when the council decided to return to Suncadia, where it’s held its last several retreats.

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