Sammamish city council member Karen Moran has built a reputation for her straight-shooting, confrontational style both on and off the council dais, but an incident in mid-February drew criticism that she may have taken a personal rivalry a bit too far.
The incident happened after the council failed to agree on who to appoint for the open seat that was vacated by Ken Gamblin. During that Feb. 15 meeting, the council deadlocked on two applicants, one of whom was former council member Pam Stuart.
The day after the meeting, Moran began highlighting her personal rivalry against Stuart in a series of emails to the rest of the council that were obtained by the Sammamish Independent.
In the first email, Moran falsely claimed that last year, she “filed to run for office against Pam Stuart” but then Stuart “pulled out of the race rather than run.” Stuart never filed to run for reelection in 2021.
Then, Moran sent a second email sharing an image of Stuart with the words “Be anti-racist, stop white terrorism,” written around Stuart’s face, without specifying why she was sharing that image. Instead, she referred to the image as personal keepsake, one in which she “always kept as a reminder why I had chosen Pam.”
In an interview, Stuart explained that she originally shared that image of herself on Facebook in early 2021 to support the Asian American community after a spate of anti-Asian hate crimes occurred across the country. Stuart is baffled as to why Moran would personally take issue with her efforts to speak out against racism, and even elevating it to the level of a personal vendetta.
Moran’s email drew a direct line of condemnation from Councilmember Amy Lam, who is the first Asian American elected to the council.
“While I know you [Moran] don’t support Pam, this is rude and offensive,” Lam replied.
Stuart said she was disappointed when she found out that Moran shared that image with the council as part of an attempt to discredit her.
“Any person on the planet who spends their time and energy on hate and negativity is just wasting energy,” Stuart said. “Take all that energy, and your position, and use it to do good in the world, and use it help people. Don’t waste it hating me.”
When asked about her motivation, Moran said that she was only sharing the image to provide council members an example of what she alleges is Stuart’s bad behavior on social media.
“I find this [image] to be negative,” Moran said in an email. “The idea that any white person would deliberately threaten, intimidate or coerce any person for gain is sickening.”
Stuart is still under consideration for the city council seat. The council opened a second round of applications, and Stuart reapplied.
The council has until April 17 to appoint someone to the open seat. If they fail to do so, King County will have the authority to make the appointment instead.