Sammamish City Council member Ramiro Valderrama charged that Mayor Tom Vance played favorites in calling on Council Member Tom Odell to nominate Council Member Kathy Huckabay first for Deputy Mayor at the Jan. 6 city council meeting.
Valderrama claimed he hit the call button first and that he was watching down the line for other council members to do the same–and none did.
The call button is a process by which a council member signals to the mayor he or she wants to speak and the process calls for the mayor to call on the council member in order.
The issue here is that under the city process for selecting the mayor or deputy mayor, the person nominated gets voted on first. If this person gets a majority of votes, no more votes are taken.
Valderrama nominated Council Member Don Gerend, but because Odell’s nomination of Huckabay was recognized and voted upon first, and she received a majority of votes, Gerend’s nomination never was put to a vote.
Now that the video of the council meeting is up on the city’s web site, closely reviewing it shows that Odell reached forward, possibly to press his call button, moments before Vance opened the subject of nominating the deputy mayor at 5:20 in the video. Odell then raised his right arm to his chin, where it remained until Vance actually called for nominations. Valderrama claims he pressed his call button on Vance’s call for nominations, and closely reviewing the video indicates he leaned forward but as the buttons are behind the podium, it isn’t shown if he did hit the button.
When Vance made the call, he looked to his left. Member Nancy Whitten was seated to Vance’s immediate left with her hand raised. Vance looked to his right. Odell, to the far right, raised his hand from his chin for recognition and Vance called on Odell, who placed Huckabay’s name in nomination.
At no time up until then can Odell be seen reaching for the call button, his body posture remaining unchanged from the start of the sequence.
Valderrama charges that the voting procedure Tuesday night was pre-arranged to assure Huckabay’s nomination came up for vote first.
Whitten objected to the entire procedure on a point of order.