When Roisin O’Farrell, 55, first got involved with Sammamish City Council, she was campaigning for autism awareness. In 2016, as a stay-at-home mother of two children, one of whom had been diagnosed with autism, she decided to make a public comment to the council, urging them to proclaim April 2 as Autism Awareness Day.
In an interview with the Sammamish Independent, O’Farrell said she is now running for election to the council to continue advocating for underrepresented voices. She was appointed to fill a vacant council seat in 2022.
One of O’Farrell’s goals is to improve the city’s mental health support infrastructure. Inspired by the nonprofit organization Good Grief Trust in England, O’Farrell believes the city should make mental health support systems more accessible. Specifically, she wants to provide a readily available list of mental health resources to the public. For instance, Good Grief Trust has been placing QR stickers on public benches and picnic tables that link to a list of nonprofit organizations in England that can help people with grief.
“I would really like to see Sammamish do something similar around mental health, which would include grief, suicide prevention, addictions, depression, and more, ” O’Farrell said. “[QR stickers] provide people, even those without health insurance, with a place to begin for reaching help.”
A second group that O’Farrell aims to assist are young teens living in Sammamish. With two children of her own, she strongly believes in making Sammamish a more supportive community for young people, especially given many of them feel as though they do not have much power in their voices. O’Farrell is particularly passionate about introducing teens to local job and volunteer opportunities.
She admires the county’s policy of providing free access to public transportation for riders under 18. For teens who cannot drive, free transit gives them access to most locations in Sammamish.
Yet, O’Farrell feels Sammamish can do more. For instance, the city can organize biannual job and volunteer fairs targeted at young people.
“Drawing inspiration from the Issaquah Garage Teen Center…in our city hall, we could have these fairs where teens can see and learn some information about all the available job or volunteer opportunities available here, in Sammamish,” O’Farrell said.
She hopes that teens can reduce commute times and gas costs by working or volunteering closer to home. In that vein, she also wants to improve the visibility of local businesses within the community.
Having earned a bachelor’s degree in business marketing her homeland — Ireland — and having worked in retail management for several years in Redmond and Bellevue, she has learned firsthand just how difficult it may be for local establishments to thrive. Given many local and online businesses in Sammamish do not have a storefront, O’Farrell wants to establish a business directory so that people can find and support local businesses more easily.
“A business directory would help our residents know what local businesses and services are available here,” O’Farrell said.
In the past few months, she started talking to the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce about implementing this resource and plans to continue this endeavor if elected.
O’Farrell acknowledges that, despite having all these ideas to make Sammamish a more welcoming, close-knit community, their success ultimately depends on the community’s interests and desires. She hopes that, if elected, she can sustain her role as an advocate for what our community wants.
“At the end of the day, the community is the one that will tell us whether or not we’re on the right path,” O’Farrell said.
Roisin O’Farrell is running for Sammamish City Council position #2.
Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly indicated that Roisin O’Farrell has a masters degree. This has been corrected to bachelors.