On Oct. 2, seven Sammamish City Council candidates gathered with a room full of community members at Eastside Catholic School for the first of three public candidate forums. In the 90-minute event hosted by the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce, Roisin O’Farrell, Pamela Randolph, Sid Gupta, Kent Treen, Kerry Bosworth, Pam Stuart, and Josh Amato shared their thoughts on issues including affordable housing, transportation, and the development of the Sammamish Town Center.
Even with three pairs of opponents present, the candidates found some areas of agreement.
On housing, the candidates agreed the City should do more to ensure that workers and retirees can afford to live in Sammamish. Amato supported adding duplex and fourplex housing. Randolph suggested repurposing buildable land from single-family homes to middle and affordable housing. Gupta and O’Farrell pointed to the City’s Housing Diversification Toolkit for next steps.
However, Amato and Randolph both believe that any new housing should meet the spirit of Sammamish.
“The properties need to be built in a manner that blends in with the community in which it resides,” Randolph said.
On transportation, all candidates agreed the city’s traffic needs improvement.
To reduce cars on roads, Randolph wants to expand public transportation by connecting Metro Flex to public transit and creating transportation for seniors. Treen suggested installing smart traffic lights. O’Farrell wants to implement crossing guards at crosswalks to promote walking and biking to schools.
Noting the high cost of such projects, Amato urged investment in transportation systems. To ensure good management of any projects, both Stuart and Gupta support the creation of the City’s Transportation Master Plan.
“We have to address all our mobility needs [in the Transportation Master Plan]—for seniors, for teens, for tweens,” Stuart said. “Simply building more [roads] will not solve the problem.”
The Sammamish Town Center was a point of differentiation between the candidates.
O’Farrell, Stuart, Bosworth, and Gupta see the town center as a chance to meet many of the city’s needs. Gupta, Bosworth, and O’Farrell believe the town center could be an active gathering place for residents. Stuart said that the town center will generate tax revenue while helping the City reach growth targets. O’Farrell stressed that the plan for the town center reflects community feedback.
“The town center plan was developed in 2008 with lots of community collaboration,” O’Farrell said. “[The goal] was to provide a living room for Sammamish.”
However, Amato, Treen, and Randolph said that the City must manage the town center development so that it aligns with Sammamish’s needs. Randolph and Amato tempered their support for additional housing by sharing concern that it will increase road congestion. Treen and Amato highlighted potential environmental impacts of new housing. Treen said he worries developers are straying from the plan and will build something not reflective of Sammamish.
“I would support a town center that contains a balance between hardscape and nature, that has a park-like feel, that has a culture center for our residents, that addresses stormwater issues, that includes impacts on [transportation], that has a green spine and that incorporates [sustainable construction practices],” Treen said.