The Yes campaign for Sammamish voters to approve an advisory vote April 28 to give them the right to Initiative and Referendum was kicked off last night (Feb. 23) amid charges that Yes vote road signs are already being stolen.
Citizens for Sammamish, which is behind the Initiative/Referendum movement, also charged that Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay, who is opposed to granting the right, attempted to block usage by CFS of the Eastside Fire & Rescue fire station on Sahalee Way, where it usually meets, and the Boys and Girls Club, where last night’s meeting was held, because CFS is now “campaigning” for the the Yes vote.
CFS chair Harry Shedd and City Council Member Ramiro Valderrama, who attended the meeting, pointed to the Feb. 17 City Council meeting in which Huckabay questioned whether groups holding “political campaign” meetings could use city-owned facilities.
However, despite claims by Shedd and Valderrama, a review of the Council meeting video recording on the City’s website, doesn’t appear to support the claims. There is nothing on the tapes to suggest any covert ulterior motive. Rather, Huckabay’s concerns appeared directed elsewhere.
The only groups Huckabay mentioned by name were the Kiwanis Club and the Girl Scouts. The Kiwanis Club has hosted candidate debates in previous City Council elections and the Girl Scouts recently held an event that included a civic affairs discussion, including the initiative.
Huckabay, Mayor Tom Vance and Councilman Bob Keller are Kiwanis members.
Huckabay expressed concern whether these activities would be permitted under a facilities use policy being considered by the Council. Shedd and Valderrama believe that Huckabay’s real motive was to shut out CFS.
Huckabay was advised that candidate debate forums in City facilities are permitted–although individual candidate campaign activities are not–and that because the City leases the building at NE 8th and Ingelwood Hill Road (the old library) to the Boys and Girls Club, the City has no authority over to whom the Club rents rooms.
Further discussion and approval of the policy was put over to March 16.
Shedd claimed that 30 signs from NE 8th to Sahalee on Sahalee Way have already been stolen. He did not identify suspects.
The City Council approved an Advisory Vote April 28 in which Sammamish voters will be asked whether they want the right to Initiative and Referendum, or oppose it. A simple majority is needed for this non-binding vote.
Initiative allows citizens to propose certain legislation in Sammamish. Referendum allows citizens to repeal certain legislation previously approved by the City Council.
Valderrama is the only City Council Member supporting adoption of Initiative/Referendum. All others are on record opposing it as unnecessary. The vote to grant an Advisory ballot was opposed only by Councilman Tom Odell.
- Update: Nancy Whitten says she now favors the Initiative/Referendum as a check on the City.
Shedd noted that the State Constitution granted citizens the right to Initiative/Referendum in 1912 and that within King County, 85% of the population has this right. Issauqah, Redmond and Bellevue and unincorporated King County each has the right, leaving Sammamish as a donut hole, Shedd said. Local uses of Initiative or Referendum has been extremely rare.
For Shedd, the right is a matter of principal and power for the people, the basics of democracy. For the City Council, the members fear an influx of Tim Eyman- or Big Money-sponsored initiatives that will be costly and potentially create unfunded mandates.
Shedd said a history of what he (and others) view as an unresponsive City Council and City Staff in part prompts his drive. He doesn’t have any specific issue in mind to pursue should votes approve the right in the Advisory ballot. Council members said at the January Retreat that they would honor the outcome.