45th Legislative District
The Senate seat is not up for election this year.
House of Representatives
Roger Goodman (D) (I)
Position 2: Larry Springer (D) (I) Unopposed.
With Larry Springer unopposed for reelection, the focus turns on Position 1. Incumbent Democrat Roger Goodman has been in office 10 years. He is challenged by Ramiro
Valderrama, who is currently the Deputy Mayor of Sammamish.
Valderrama, running as a Republican, was reelected to his second term as a City Councilman in November. He was sworn in to his new term in January. The following April he declared his candidacy for Goodman’s seat, although behind the scenes it was known as early as February he was going to run.
The original challenger to Goodman, Charlie Sheffer, was told by the state GOP it was supporting Valderrama, Sheffer wrote The Comment in an email at the time.
On the merits, this is an easy call. Valderrama is a far better choice than Goodman, who has been an undistinguished and uninspired legislator. The most charitable thing that can be said about Goodman’s service to his constituents in the 45th is that it has been lackluster.
Looking at the race strictly from Sammamish’s standpoint, Goodman hasn’t done anything for our citizens that The Comment can point to.
Valderrama proved to be an aggressive citizens’ advocate during his first term on the City Council. He challenged the ruling majority on a regular basis. His persistence and demeanor, while sometimes off-putting, often forced the Council to take on issues that complacency and arrogance shoved to the background.
If elected to the House, Valderrama will provide a voice—a strong voice–for Sammamish in Olympia that Goodman doesn’t, and which hasn’t been present since Dino Rossi resigned his Senate seat to run for governor in 2004.
There are, however, a lot of “buts” (and butts). For Sammamish Comment, the buts are crucial.
Sammamish voters busted their butts for Valderrama
First and foremost, Sammamish residents busted their butts to get Valderrama reelected when the ruling majority on the Council worked so hard to defeat him. They also busted their butts to elect two newcomers to the Council, Christie Malchow and Tom Hornish, to support him and to defeat one member of the ruling majority who was seeking reelection and another candidate who would have added to the rulers.
Malchow and Hornish followed Valderrama onto the City Council. The current power structure is generally regarded as a 3-3 split with Mayor Don Gerend providing the swing vote. Although not always a solid coalition, the two sides are generally referred to as the V-3 (Valderrama, Hornish and Malchow) and the H-3 (Kathy Huckabay, Bob Keller and Tom Odell). Odell more recently has shown a willingness to split from the H-3 and join the V-3 on select issues.
Valderrama’s apparent decision within weeks to seek election to the state House leaves a real sour taste in the mouths of some of his most dedicated supporters.
Serving on the Council and Legislature
But Valderrama said he will serve the City Council and the House if he is elected. It’s legal and others have done it, he says.
But some of those who have tried it found the dual roles too taxing. They resigned their local position in favor of the state role.
But Valderrama claims he can balance the city and state roles, his job and his family.
This is important: Sammamish residents need to go into this race with the full understanding and eyes wide open that sooner rather than later, Valderrama if elected will choose to resign his City Council seat.
This would shift Malchow and Hornish into a minority, rather than an evenly split Council. An appointment would be made to fill Valderrama’s seat, with the control of the Council at stake.
Citizens would lose a strong advocate from the Council.
Valderrama’s strong advocacy won the day when, on Oct. 4, in a 5-2 vote, the Council voted to opposed the ill-conceived and financially boated Sound Transit 3 that will cost Sammamish taxpayers at least $500m over 25 years for nothing in return.
In the intervening months since his declaration to run, Valderrama waffled on remaining on the Council. His position now is that he will remain on the Council, if constituents want him to, and forego the $850/mo Council Members receive.
But there is just no getting around that Valderrama will be faced with choices–as early as January 2017–whether he will be in Sammamish for City business or in Olympia for 45th District business. He can’t be in both places at the same time.
The Comment would have been far happier–and an enthusiastic supporter–if Valderrama waited until 2018 to seek the House seat, following the 2017 City Council elections in which four seats will be up.
There could be a sea change following this election. In theory, all four seats could turn over to newcomers. Valderrama would be positioned to lead the Council with his institutional knowledge (such as it would be after six years) and citizens-first agenda.
But it’s far more likely he’d be gone by then if elected to the House. (Given that he drew only 38% of the vote in the primary against Goodman, a successful run in November is unlikely.)
The Seattle Times endorsed Goodman “for one more term.” It cited two reasons; one was Valerrama’s decision to remain on the City Council if elected to the Legislature.
Finally, Valderrama has shown guts and fortitude on the Council, being the squeaky wheel and risking alienating his peers. He prided himself on being a straight-talking maverick, a posture that appealed to so many Sammamish voters. This is his “brand” on the Council.
Unfortunately, when it came to declaring whether he supports or endorses Donald Trump for president, Valderrama became just another fence-straddling politician. He busted his brand.
When Valderrama officially declared his candidacy in April, The Comment asked directly if he supported or endorsed Trump, the most divisive candidate for president in decades. Valderrama ducked, bobbed and weaved, saying he was focused on his campaign. He wrote:
- “I am currently completely focused on the Sammamish City Council and my race and the reform and renewal of Olympia by advocating for our citizens,” Valderrama wrote Sammamish Comment. “Given the fluid nature of the Presidential election process I think it would also be premature to voice on any of the candidates. In the interim all eyes should be on the city and state legislature.”
In August, after Trump engaged in more outrageous and dangerous claims, The Comment asked Valderrama again if he supported or endorsed Trump. His initial response denounced Trump and he declared he wouldn’t support Hillary Clinton, but he still ducked whether he supported or endorsed Trump.
- “As you know I am focused on running to represent the citizens of the 45th district in the state legislature,” Valderrama wrote The Comment. “Like many I have also publicly denounced Trump for his divisive statements. Also like most voters, I’m still watching and listening to see who I will support for President. I can tell you it will not be Hillary Clinton.”
After The Comment published this, Valderrama wrote back and said he had “no plans” to support Trump or Clinton–another fence-straddling ambiguity typically used by politicians and bureaucrats to leave themselves wiggle room to change their position at a later date.
Valderrama defines “no plans” as a definitive statement. The Comment writer has been a word-smithing journalist and communications professional since age 19. “No plans” is anything but definitive. A lawyer with whom this issue was discussed concurs.
For someone who prided himself on bucking the establishment during his first term on the City Council and expressing his mind to the point of becoming fingernails on the blackboard, Valderrama’s ambiguity over Trump was completely out of character. He busted his brand.
No endorsement; skip voting in this race
Sammamish Comment cannot support or endorse Roger Goodman for reelection. Given Valderrama’s fence-sitting on remaining on the City Council if elected and whether he supported or endorsed or will vote for Trump for president, The Comment will not support or endorse him for the House race.
Valerrama needs to stay on the Sammamish City Council and do the job for the next two years to which he was elected. His strong leadership over the ST3 issue is the “old” Valderrama. This kind of advocacy is needed for the next two years.
If he decides to run for the Legislature in 2018, in principal The Comment (which will be closed by then) has no issue with his seeking higher office. But not this year.
Skip voting in this race.