City council fails to fill vacancy after multiple attempts to break deadlock
The city council failed again to fill the vacancy for one of its seats after seven successive votes failed to break the deadlock at their March 15 regular council meeting.
Among the eight finalists identified, three were interviewed in February, while five more were interviewed during the March 15 meeting after the city made a second call for applications.
Councilmember Kent Treen started things off by motioning to appoint Jerry Norman, a developer who was recently appointed to the Planning Commission, and described him as a man of “high moral fiber” and at the highest level when it comes to emergency management. The motion failed, with the only supporting vote coming from Councilmember Karen Moran.
Councilmember Amy Lam then nominated Pam Stuart, a former council member whose term ended in 2021, saying that Stuart is the only candidate who is “current on everything city-related and all of the litigations.”
Mayor Christie Malchow disagreed, contending that some other candidates also have a wide knowledge base about the city.
The motion resulted in a split vote with the three newly elected council members – Kali Clark, Amy Lam, Karen Howe – voting in favor, and the three anti-development council members – Christie Malchow, Karen Moran, Kent Treen – voting against.
The Council tied 3-3 again on Melanie Kelsey, who has a background in business management and finance. Kelsey ran against Howe in 2021 and lost.
After that, Treen nominated Josh Amato, a small business owner and a current member of the Sammamish Planning Commission. Amato also ran in 2021, against Lam, and lost.
“Even though I don’t agree with everything Josh Amato stands for, I think his voice is a good voice to have on the council,” Treen said.
Treen also said that Amato is supported by the public as he only lost the recent election to Lam by 250 votes. Lam immediately responded that Pam Stuart actually won her election in 2017 with 9,000 votes.
“I don’t know what that has to do with this nominee,” Treen replied.
The motion for Amato failed 3-3.
Malchow then nominated Samuel Rodabough, a lawyer.
“He seems pretty middle-of-the-road and can appeal to both sides of this council,” Malchow said.
But this reasoning did not persuade the three new council members. The motion also failed at 3-3.
Treen then nominated his wife, Debbie, who was a former mayor of Bothell. He emphasized her experience in local government and love for her family, as well as her profession as an accountant.
“She doesn’t lie,” Treen said of his wife. “It is just sad that she has to be married to me, and that would be the only reason why you would eliminate her from a position to seat on this council.”
Moran was the only one to side with Treen on this vote. It failed 4-2.
Finally, Malchow motioned to re-consider Jerry Norman, the developer, and changed her vote in favor. But it takes four votes to pass anything on this council, and Norman still could not get enough support with a 3-3 deadlock.
A total of seven failed motions, with five votes that split 3-3, showed how severely divided the current city council is.
The council will be reevaluating and voting on the same set of applicants at their April 5 meeting. If they fail to reach an agreement by April 17, King County Council will take over the appointment responsibility.