Josh Amato is back on the ballot in his second run for city council, with a renewed focus on improving the city’s finances and economic policies. He previously ran for a council seat in 2021, but lost that race.
As an owner of a local business, the president of the Rotary Club of Sammamish, and a former planning commissioner, the 35-year-old Amato has stayed actively involved in the community.
Amato believes the current council is on the wrong path with regards to financial management.
“The City Council raised property taxes by 12% since 2020, then passed a $5 million deficit budget that drives the city to insolvency in 4 years,” Amato said.
While the council has taken steps to improve the city’s finances, such as forming a Fiscal Sustainability Taskforce of local residents to assess budget cuts and tax increases, Amato said council members should be taking more responsibility instead of delegating it to this taskforce.
“The city council asked for the job, they collect a salary, the residents expect them to do that work,” Amato said.
If elected, Amato’s top priority is to develop a fiscally responsible budget. To do so, he plans to first establish and communicate clear budget priorities. By assigning resources strategically and focusing on key areas, he aims to improve the efficiency of the budget. An approach Amato suggested is a performance-based budget, where policies are assessed continually with quantifiable benchmarks.
“It seems right now that everything is a priority and when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority,” he said.
One of Amato’s budget priorities is transportation. He supports projects that increase the capacity and connectivity of our road system so that it better accommodates a growing city. He also wants to increase investment in pedestrian safety improvements, especially around the city’s elementary schools.
For local businesses, Amato wants to implement a “Buy Local” program,where city hall would collaborate with the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce to build a digital platform that surfaces local businesses to residents. To support such a program, he suggests reaching out to agencies such as the Port of Seattle and the state’s Department of Commerce to seek grant funding to build the platform and pay for advertising.
“The main goal of a Buy Local program is to have more residents buy local, keeping the tax revenue in Sammamish,” he said.
Another priority for Amato is to allocate more funding for seniors and youth programs. His idea to create a city-funded thrift shop in Sammamish is still on the table from his last run for council. Such a thrift shop would generate revenue for youth and senior services, and provide work and volunteer opportunities for youth, according to Amato. He pointed to Mercer Island’s thrift shop, which brought in over $1 million for Mercer Island’s Department of Youth and Family Services.
“Replicating that program here in Sammamish, perhaps through a public-private partnership, provides funding, paid job training, and volunteer opportunities for community members,” he said.
Amato plans to use revenue generated by a potential thrift store, as well as other parts of the budget, to ensure senior services, improve youth mental health support, and increase covered spaces in parks.
Amato’s long-term goal is to make Sammamish more vibrant for every resident. He wants to channel his passion toward making the kind of positive change that reflects the community’s needs.
“I just enjoy the work the city council and local government does and I think it is important,” Amato said.
Josh Amato is running for Sammamish City Council, position #6.