The 2019 Sammamish City Council election turned out to be the classic David vs Goliath fight.
The supporters of Karen McKnight, Rituja Indapure and Karen Howe (the McK3) amassed a record amount of money to defeat incumbent Christie Malchow and her allies, Ken Gamblin and Kent Treen (the M3).
Supporters of the McK3 were determined to defeat Malchow in particular, as well as the two “Ks”. They wanted to take over the city council with a 5-2 majority, or at the very least, a 4-3 majority, to push forward with the Town Center—potentially up zoning it and removing height restrictions. They wanted to weaken traffic concurrency standards, which would have the effect of loosening development potential in the rest of the city.
Aug. 26, 2019: The Klahanie area annexation to Sammamish in 2015 caused road projects in the legacy parts of the city to be delayed, despite promises from then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-City Manager Ben Yazici there would be no adverse impacts.
Then-Mayor Tom Vance and then-City Manager promised no ill affects on legacy Sammamish from Klahanie annexation.
Acting public works director Cheryl Paston confirmed at the City Council’s Aug. 20 meeting what Sammamish Comment feared and reported in 2015: the Klahanie annexation would divert money from key projects to fulfill a Christmas list of promises made by Vance, Yazici, council members Don Gerend and Ramiro Valderrama to entice Klahanie residents to vote to annex to Sammamish.
As the current city council debates over projects listings on the Transportation Improvement Plan—notably the Sahalee Way project—the 2015 council led by Vance and Yazici’s administration manipulated the TIP then to claim sharply reduced costs for a major Klahanie road project while simultaneously shifting monies from other road projects in legacy Sammamish.
Aug. 22, 2019: There is a lack of knowledge about how the Sammamish Town Center Plan unfolded and what it is today.
Here is how it happened.
Sammamish became a city in 1999. One of the first orders of business was to create the Comprehensive Plan. The first city council appointed 17 citizens to what was called the Planning Advisory Board (PAB) to draft a plan.
The PAB had a cross-section of Sammamish residents: environmentalists, developers, real estate agents, business people and people simply interested in serving. I was on the PAB.
The PAB worked over 18 months on all elements except one: the area that became the Town Center.
The PAB was directed by that first city council to wrap up its work just as we got to the center of town. Whereas nearly all new cities took three years to complete its first Comp Plan, that city council and the city manager at the time, Ben Yazici, wanted it done in record time.
The center of town was set aside for its own process—which took from 2001 to the end of 2009.
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.