Sixty-five percent of the votes cast in the Sammamish City Council races were cast for Christie Malchow, Ramiro Valderrama and Tom Hornish, a clear message to remaining Council Members and the City Administration that a change is desired from current and past practices and policies.
Although Valderrama is an incumbent, he was isolated by the ruling majority of the Council and members worked hard to find a challenger to defeat his bid for reelection. His reelection is a blow to the ruling majority’s ambitions to maintain control and eliminate a challenger to the status quo.
The election of Malchow and Hornish, allies of Valderrama, cement voters’ message of change.
Results from the Nov. 3 election are to be certified today by the King County Elections Board. There has been virtually no change in the vote count since Sammamish Comment’s last election update a week ago; only a handful of votes have been counted since then. The final results will be available about 4:30pm today, but the outcome only validates what Sammamish Comment reported on Election Night.
Despite this overwhelming vote result seeking changes, some members of the City Council appear to be in denial. There is a drive by some to deny Valderrama a position on the leadership team as either mayor or deputy mayor, despite his receiving more than 83% of the vote in his reelection. Malchow won 58% of the vote in her race and Hornish captured nearly 54% in his race. Hornish’s opponent, Mayor Tom Vance, was defeated in his bid for a second term. Mark Cross, recruited by the ruling majority to oppose Malchow, produced a surprisingly poor showing. The other recruit by the ruling majority, Hank Klein, withdrew from the race too late to take his name off the ballot. He opposed Valderrama.
Valderrama has been reelected with the third largest vote total in a contested race in the City’s 15 year history. But some members of the former ruling majority suggest that because his opponent, Klein, decided to withdraw from the election and didn’t campaign, Valderrama’s is a hollow victory.
This ignores several other examples in Sammamish elections in which weak candidates ran token campaigns or none at all.
2013: Huckabay vs Wright
In 2013, Kathy Huckabay sought to return to the City Council after a four year hiatus. She previously served 10 years, including stints as mayor and deputy mayor. She was opposed by Larry Wright, who later decided not to run a campaign–much the same way Klein withdrew from his race against Valderrama.
Huckabay, ending her second year as deputy mayor and a member of the ruling majority, is Valderrama’s biggest critic and led efforts to unseat him through efforts well chronicled by Sammamish Comment.
In her race against Wright, who didn’t campaign, Huckabay received 6,672 votes for a 67.7% outcome. This compares with Valderrama’s 7,544 votes and 83%.
2011: Vance vs Bornfreund
Tom Vance ran for election a second time in 2011, having lost in his first try for the City Council in 2009 against John Curley. In that race, Vance received 45.3% of the vote. In his second try, he was opposed by Jesse Bornfreund, who turned out to be a weak candidate whose knowledge of the issues paled against the policy wonk Vance. Vance received 7,694 votes–the largest in a contested race in Sammamish–and a margin of 67.6%. Vance received only 4,296 votes (45.85%) in the 2015 election against Hornish. This was fewer votes than in his 2009 defeat by Curley, an election that had a 22% higher vote count.
2009: Gerend vs Rutt
Incumbent Don Gerend, one of the City’s original Council Members (as was Huckabay), was challenged by Mike Rutt. Rutt, a resident of the area under consideration by the Planning Commission for development as the Town Center, didn’t want to see Gerend run unopposed, as he had in previous elections. But Rutt campaigned minimally. Gerend was easily reelected with a 70% margin, receiving 7,936 votes. This is the largest number of votes in a contested election in Sammamish history.
Maneuvering on the leadership
Maneuvering for mayor and deputy mayor for the Sammamish City Council always begins right after the election. The leadership is selected by the Council Members–the mayor is not an elected position, such as is the case in Issaquah, Redmond and Seattle. Thus, these two slots need four Council Member votes. Right now, no City Council Member has four votes assured for either position.
Some members of the ruling majority remain adamantly opposed to Valderrama in either position, despite his record margin and coming in #3 in historical voting totals in a contested race.
The votes for these two positions will be the first Council meeting in January, the 4th.
The backroom politicking between now and then will determine the outcome of the mayoral and deputy mayor positions.