Sammamish City Council appointed two residents with planning commission and community leadership experience to fill vacant council seats during a special meeting on July 12.
Roisin O’Farrell and Rituja Indapure were both sworn in at the meeting after a month-long selection process that included an application and a group interview. They were chosen out of seven applicants who were interviewed for the role.
O’Farrell, 54, moved to the city in 1999. She is a stay-at-home mother with two children, one of whom is diagnosed with autism. Originally from Ireland, she first forayed into city affairs in 2016, when she made a public comment to the council asking them to declare April 2 as Autism Awareness Day.
She believes her prior experience of three years with the planning commission gave her a broad idea of the issues that city council dealt with, which helped distinguish her from other candidates. She decided to apply for the seat to give back to the community and meet more people.
“When you’re at home full time with children, it can be quite an isolating experience. . . so you have to become more intentional about getting to know people,” O’Farrell said.
O’Farrell applied for an open city council seat prior to this opening in February, in which Pam Stuart was eventually selected.
Her main goals as a council member is to encourage more public participation on the city’s upcoming Comprehensive Plan update, which will take up much of the council’s attention over the next two years. She wants the council to hear from as many residents and as varied perspectives as possible.
The Comprehensive Plan is a vision document every city is legally required to have, and helps guide decisions on topics such as land use, housing, transportation and parks. Every 10 years, the plan must be revised and updated, and the deadline for Sammamish’s next update is Dec. 2024.
Rituja Indapure, 49, has always had a passion for public service and volunteerism. She has been involved in her children’s PTSA, and served as a member of the YMCA advisory board.
Indapure has also served on the city’s commissions, as both an alternate commissioner on the arts commission in 2016, and as a member of the planning commission since 2018.
She ran unsuccessfully for city council in 2017 and 2019, but chose not to run in 2021 in order to support ill family members in India during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indapure said she is honored to finally be able to serve the people of Sammamish as a council member.
She thinks it was her experience on the planning commission, working on the comprehensive plan and the urban forest management plan, combined with her local connections after running for office twice, that set her apart from other candidates. She also believes she brings a diverse lived experience to the table as a mother and immigrant.
“It’s wonderful to have other role models . . . we have many legislators of Indian heritage across Washington that have been an inspiration to me and I hope that my appointment to the city council becomes an inspiration for others,” said Indapure.
Indapure wants to support programs that help residents get involved and teach them how the city functions. She would also like to start an incubator for small businesses, and focus on increasing diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging within the city. She is eager to work on the bi-annual budget and the Comprehensive Plan as well.
Both O’Farrell and Indapure’s terms will end after the next election cycle, and they will need to run for election in Nov. 2023 if they wish to keep their seats. O’Farrell and Indapure are both undecided about running in 2023.