Councilmember Christie Malchow was chosen as mayor of Sammamish and new council member Kali Clark was selected as deputy mayor during the first council meeting of the year on Jan. 4.
Malchow defeated incumbent Karen Moran in a tight vote for mayor. By gaining the support of new council members Clark, Amy Lam, and Karen Howe, Malchow, who also voted for herself, won four votes to Moran’s three.
The close vote for mayor suggests a rift in the city council between a staunch anti-development faction and those who advocate for sustainable growth. This division may impact council priorities and policy direction in the coming years.
Mayors in Sammamish serve as the symbolic leader of the city and preside over city council meetings. Malchow previously served as mayor from 2018 to 2019.
Malchow said she wants to bridge the divide within the council.
“Sammamish needs some internal and external healing,” she said in an email to the Sammamish Independent.
To do that, Malchow said she will simply follow the will of the majority.
In addition, she will lead the council in starting the two-year process to update the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which will then guide policymaking for eight years afterwards.
“That will be a major lift for both staff and the council alike, so making this process that will set the stage for policy-related decisions in the next eight years will be a critical and heavy lift for all,” Malchow said.
Clark was the only one nominated for deputy mayor. She received unanimous support from her fellow council members.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity and looking forward to supporting the mayor and our council,” Clark said. “I feel honored to have been nominated and am looking forward to the work this year and for my entire term.”
Clark said both Malchow and Moran have done great work in the past as mayors, but she wants to see a little change happening with the new council.
Her primary goal is to facilitate communication between residents and city council, which has suffered since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closing of city hall.
“I want to be a very transparent, very open form of government, where people and citizens feel like they can come talk to us,” Clark said.
At 37, Clark is the youngest deputy mayor in Sammamish history.
One of the imminent tasks for the new mayor and deputy mayor is to appoint a new council member following Ken Gamblin’s resignation.
Clark said she wants to fill the vacancy with someone who is willing to communicate and collaborate with the existing council.
“I really want someone who is going to be enthusiastic about the position and really want to keep the citizens’ interest at the forefront of their work,” Clark said.
Malchow also emphasized the urgency of the task.
“On boarding that new person will be critical to having the new council work together effectively and efficiently,” she said.