Power shift now certain at Sammamish City Council

Analysis

With Saturday’s declaration by Sammamish City Council Member Tom Odell that he will not seek reelection in November, this assures a major power shift is coming.

Three other incumbents previously said they aren’t running again. They are Mayor Don Gerend, Deputy Mayor Bob Keller and Member Kathy Huckabay.

Figure 1.

Five candidates already announced candidacies to run this fall (Figure 1). At the moment, one—John Robinson—hasn’t identified which seat he will seat, but with Odell dropping out, no candidate is identified with Odell’s Position 7. Robinson is likely to go for this open seat.

Power Shift

Odell, Huckabay and Keller represented a voting bloc on the Council currently called the H-3 (after Huckabay). The other voting bloc comprises Ramiro Valderrama, Christ Malchow and Tom Hornish, called the V-3 for short hand.

Gerend was the swing vote.

Gerend and Keller were the first to declare they will not seek reelection come November. Huckabay followed last month and Odell on Saturday.

Some of the newcomers who have declared have ties to both sides.

Jason Ritchie, of Klahanie, told people he was recruited by Huckabay and Odell. Ritchie is running for Huckabay’s seat, Position 1.

Minal Kode Ghassemieh is Friends on Facebook with Ritchie and another candidate, Ritjua Indapure. Ghassemieh is seeking Keller’s seat, Position 3.

Indapure, another Klahanie resident, was named an alternate to the Sammamish Arts Commission, but according to one commissioner, was largely inactive. She appeared before the City Council urging Sammamish to drop its banking business with Wells Fargo because the bank is one of the institutions funding the controversial South Dakota pipeline.

Indapure is seeking Gerend’s seat, Position 5.

Chris Ross, also seeking Position 5, is known to be loosely associated with Valderrama. He’s also a member of Kiwanis, in which Keller and Huckabay are active.

Robinson is the husband of former Arts Commission chair Daphne Robinson, who is Friends on Facebook with Huckabay and former Mayor Tom Vance. Vance, Huckabay, Odell and Keller were a solid voting block called the Gang of 4 until Vance was defeated for reelection by Hornish in 2015.

Geographic Representation

With the five declared candidates and the V-3, the geographic representation is concentrated along Sammamish’s west and Southeast sides. Only Robinson lives elsewhere, near the Sahalee area. (Figure 2.)

The deadline for candidate filings is in May, so more candidates may emerge.

Next leadership team

With four newcomers now certain to be elected to the Council, this means the new leadership (selected in January 2018) will likely be Valderrama for mayor and Malchow for deputy mayor.

Valderrama served as deputy mayor, but was blocked by the opposition voting block, first by the Gang of 4 and then the H-3, from being mayor. Malchow was the runner up to Keller this year in being named deputy mayor.

Hornish, who changed jobs since his election in 2015, has limited time for the additional duties of deputy mayor.

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