On a warm August morning, a small crowd gathered at the Metropolitan Market patio for a casual conversation with four city council candidates about the city’s future while enjoying coffee and desserts.
This weekly event — Coffee with Candidates — has allowed candidates Sid Gupta, Kerry Bosworth, Roisin O’Farrell and Pam Stuart to learn about the issues that matter the most to voters, and to learn more about each other.
Coffee with Candidates grew out of organic interactions among these four candidates, who have developed connections with each other through communication between their campaigns and shared outreach events.
Seeking to engage with the community, the candidates created this weekly event as a convenient forum for community members to engage with multiple candidates at once.
“For me, the magic of local government is that it is really accessible,” Bosworth said. “This [event] is a way for people to come together, learn about the city, and learn about us.”
Through these experiences, the candidates have developed a greater understanding of similarities and differences in each other’s priorities. Specifically, they have discovered a mutual desire to improve public transit in Sammamish and a common goal to increase youth involvement in city committees. Bosworth was grateful for the opportunity to get to know Stuart and Gupta, whom she had not met before, through these coffee chats.
The candidates also gained a greater understanding of voters’ concerns. After hearing residents’ stories for many weeks, they have identified the town center development and transportation as top issues for the community. They also used this opportunity to educate voters on issues such as the city budget, development of the town center, and how the city government operates overall.
“Everyone has a different lived experience,” Gupta said. “Even these bullet point discussions have proven to be helpful.”
Stuart said the coffees only involve the four of them because there has been a lack of communication between them and their opponents. However, she said they are open to any of their opponents joining if they reach out to request it.
While the four candidates are hosting these events together, Stuart said voters should consider each candidate separately.
“[Voters] should evaluate each of the races individually and choose who they think aligns most with their values,” Stuart said.
Coffee with Candidates occurs every Saturday from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. through Nov. 4. The location alternates between Metropolitan Market and the Klahanie Starbucks. Pam Stuart’s campaign posts the event location each week on Facebook.