Sammamish City Council selected Kali Clark as mayor of Sammamish and Amy Lam as deputy mayor during a June 21 regular meeting.
The unanimous votes came after the resignation of former mayor Christie Malchow, which left the mayoral role vacant.
Mayors and deputy mayors are symbolic leaders in Sammamish. The city council fills vacancies for both positions by nominating and selecting amongst its own council members.
Clark was the only nominee for mayor. She was elected as a council member in Nov. 2021 and has served as deputy mayor since Jan. 4. Clark will be the youngest and first openly LGBTQ mayor in city history.
Her elevation to mayor represents a stunning rise for the 37-year-old Clark, given her first term on council only began five months ago. She said she even considered passing on the deputy mayor position after this year was over.
“I feel surprised and honored [to be chosen as mayor],” she said in an email to the Sammamish Independent. “I definitely won’t get everything right, but I feel confident that I have support from my fellow councilmembers and City staff to make it through.”
As mayor, Clark wants to prioritize environmental action and support ideas for change from community organizations and schools.
Clark also hopes to increase dialogue between the city council and the community. She desires to reunite the council around the council members’ visions for Sammamish. To achieve these goals, she plans to bring back office hours in some form and enact clear and actionable council goals.
“I’m looking forward to bringing our Council whole again,” she said.
She expressed gratitude toward the service of Malchow and Councilmember Karen Moran, who resigned the same week as Malchow.
As mayor, Clark wants to continue being a voice for all people of Sammamish. She will utilize her experience as part of the LBGTQ community and her past work experience in inmate rehabilitation to ensure underrepresented voices are heard.
Lam was the only nominee for deputy mayor. She is also serving her first term on the council. Her nomination was supported by all five council members. She brings a diverse perspective by being the first Asian American elected to what has historically been a mostly white city council.
“I’m incredibly honored,” Lam said in an email to the Sammamish Independent. “I view my role as simply being part of a team.”
Lam expressed disappointment about Malchow and Moran’s resignations. She noted that Malchow, Moran, and the remaining council members had many common goals despite various conflicts.
“Even after we fill the council vacancies, we will not always agree and that’s a good thing,” she said. “Differing opinions make a stronger council.”
Her goals are the same as those during her campaign. She wants to develop a comprehensive climate action plan, address housing affordability, develop community gathering places with shops and restaurants, and create a diversity, inclusion, and belonging plan for the city.
Like Clark, Lam plans to utilize her voice to increase representation of underrepresented groups, particularly Asian Americans, at city hall.
“As [I was] the only Asian American, aside from my brother, in my K-12 schools, I empathize with the notion of belonging. With the richness in diversity and backgrounds, our council can become more representative of our residents,” Lam said.