City and County council races occur this year. A special election for the 45th State Senate seat, which includes the north end of Sammamish roughly along a line of SE 8th St., will also be on the ballot.
Sammamish Comment gave a full rundown of the local elections in January. In Sammamish, two City Council Members upended the dynamics of the election when they announced at the Council retreat in January that they would not run for reelection. First-term Council Member Bob Keller and Mayor Don Gerend, who has been on the Council since the first election in 1999, said they will retire at the end of this year.
Two other Council Members, Tom Odell and Kathy Huckabay, have not announced their intentions. However, there is ample buzz around political circles in Sammamish that Huckabay won’t run again. The Huckabays put their long-time home up for sale this month.
Ritchie for Sammamish Council
Jason Ritchie, a resident of the Klahanie neighborhood in Sammamish, confirmed yesterday to The Comment that he will likely run for City Council.
“I am considering it strongly,” he told The Comment in an interview. “I have not filed with PDC, but the answer is yes, that’s my plan, yes.”
Whether this is enough of a declaration that Ritchie will have to file with the PDC in 14 days is unclear. State law requires the filings once a candidate declares for office.
Ritchie ran for office twice before: in 2016, challenging incumbent Republican Jay Rodne
for one of two State House seats in the 5th District, which includes the greater Klahanie area; and in 2014, the Democratic Party’s sacrificial lamb against incumbent Republican Dave Reichert in the heavily Republican 8th Congressional District.
Ritchie came very close to defeating Rodne, whose racist tirade on Facebook against Muslims became a searing election issue. Ritchie led Rodne by 400 votes on Election Night but lost 52%-49% by the time votes were all counted Nov. 29. Ritchie won the greater Klahanie area of the 5th by a landslide 60.5% vote, however.
Ritchie’s Klahanie base will give him a head start for a city-wide, city council race, where winners and losers are often separated by only a few hundred votes.
It’s clear Ritchie is on the path to make a formal declaration. At the time of the interview, he had talked with five of the seven Council Members and was scheduled to meet with a sixth.
“My experience in past couple of cycles has shown the partisan cycle is strong, it’s intransigent, and I want to serve,” he said. People are turned off—and so is Ritchie.
“I am sick to death of partisanship right now. [But] I want to serve in some capacity if I can. I want to be an example to my kids. I want them to see you can help and participate,” he said.
“Secondarily, this is the first time Klahanie will be able to vote [in Sammamish Council elections].” Ritchie said that having doorbelled Klahanie twice before, he understands their concerns and desire for a voice on the City Council.
Three big issues
Ritchie identified three big issues for an election campaign.
The first is “making sure we have a transportation plan going forward. The [City’s] TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan) has some real good structure behind it,” he said. “But I don’t think we’re planning enough for the changes in Sammamish over the past 10 years. Getting on and off the Plateau, getting down Sahalee to Redmond, getting on to I-90, making sure there are additional bus routes, making sure there are more buses” are all priorities.
Ritchie supported Sound Transit 3 as the only option available now to get cars off the road. Sammamish voted against ST3, 51%-49%. The greater Klahanie area—in reasonably close proximity to the ST park and ride in Issaquah Highlands—voted for ST3 by the same margin.
“The environment is very important to me,” Ritchie said. “Making sure we are respecting the tree canopy and not losing the green spaces. Balancing growth. In one day, [the trees of the] Conner-Jarvis [development] were gone. Seeing that happen was stunning.
“What’s the plan for Issaquah-Pine Lake Road, for Issaquah-Fall City Road? The problem is, there is a cut that County owns, the Notch [along Duthie Hill Road]. That is something that has to be dealt with right now. Can’t wait for slow wheels of government.”
Ritchie complained that six, eight or 10 houses are going up on “every piece of flat land.” He wants to control this, but runs into the state’s Growth Management Act that mandates cities accommodate growth within the Urban Growth Boundary line. Sammamish is inside the UGB.
“Third, I’m not a fan of the GMA,” he said. The GMA needs revision, but the “education funding debate is sucking the air out of the issues. We need to reframe the GMA. We’re not respecting enough of the environment.”
45th State Senate
State Sen. Andy Hill, a Republican, died in office last October. Former State Sen. Dino Rossi, also a Republican, was appointed to fill his position. Rossi pledged to be a caretaker until the next general election—Nov. 7 this year—and not seek the seek on an elective basis.
This November will fill the seat until the seat’s term expires in November 2018, at which time a full, four-year term will be filled.
No Republican has declared for the seat. Speculation is that Sammamish Council Member Ramiro Valderrama, who was defeated for a House seat in the 45th last year, may take another stab at the Legislature. Speculation also says that Democrat roger Goodman, who defeated Valderrama last year, may make a run for the seat. Valderrama is considered unlikely to make a run in November 2017, but might next year. Neither has declared intentions.
This month a Democrat, Manka Dhingra, a senior deputy with the King County Prosecutor’s Office, declared for the seat. (Within two days, a complaint was filed with the State Public Disclosure Commission alleging that she failed to timely file required documents.)
Documents filed with the PDC since then show she’s raised more than $40,000 for what is likely to be one of the most expensive races for the Legislature. The State Senate is split 25-24 in favor of the Republicans. If she wins, control of the Senate flips to the Democrats.
Of the $40,000, more than $23,000 comes from donors who live in California.