In 2021, I wrote an op-ed about the pivotal elections our city was facing. At that time, Sammamish was falling further behind on both basic services as well as preparing for a future in which we would need more housing choices to stay in Sammamish, as well as transit and public amenities like parks and trails.
We needed to elect candidates who offered a more realistic and aspirational view while also demonstrating both competence and civility that was sorely needed at City Hall.
Voters agreed. They elected three of the four candidates I thought would best achieve this progress and reversed the negative direction the City Council at that time was headed.
I am pleased to report that in the two years since, the strong progressive majority that was elected in 2021 — Mayor Kali Clark, Deputy Mayor Amy Lam, and Councilmember Karen Howe — and the subsequent appointments of council members Roisin O’Farrell, Rituja Indapure and Pam Stuart (who rejoined the Council), have positively and dramatically changed the culture at City Hall. Council meetings now actually focus on deliberating over substantive policies and services, rather than the infighting and litigation that consumed the prior council.
But sustaining this progress is not guaranteed. As a former mayor and longtime city council member, I can attest to this from personal experience.
That is why I am once again asking all Sammamish voters to carefully consider the choice of candidates in this November’s elections. As was the case two years ago, there are clear differences between the candidates for each of the four positions on the ballot.
For example, take the race between Councilmember Kent Treen and his challenger Kerry Bosworth. Sammamish Independent reporter Hongning Wang’s excellent, recent article describes how Treen took a cavalier approach to public records and conducted official business on encrypted apps, based on what it appears was his intent to hide such sensitive communications. These records can now never be recovered because they were deleted. This is but one of numerous and egregious examples in which not only Treen, but other former council members, conducted City business in secret, and in total disregard of both state law and adherence to the principles of transparency, disclosure and accountability.
To this day, Treen will not respond to the Sammamish Independent’s request for a response. He was eventually censured by the current council for falsely denying on a sworn statement that he did not use his personal device for City business, to which he claimed therefore he had no public records to disclose. He has harmed not only our public trust but also potentially created a massive legal liability for the City in violation of the state’s Public Records Act.
He was part of a prior council that was found to be in continuous violation of the State Growth Management Act. A state hearings board recommended to Governor Jay Inslee to impose the severest sanctions under state law, including the withholding of state tax revenues, against the City of Sammamish. It was only under such a threat that the City eventually complied.
The prior council — to which Treen was part of the voting majority — wasted countless hours, and spent over a $1 million of Sammamish taxpayer funds on litigation. That money could have been better spent on more productive public business or invested in public amenities. Three other council members involved in this intentional mess — Karen Moran, Christie Malchow, and Ken Gamblin — eventually resigned.
The good news is that there are excellent candidates in these elections. Kerry Bosworth, currently on the Sammamish Planning Commission, is running against Treen in part to ensure City Hall remains transparent and council members interact with each other with civility and honesty. Roisin O’Farrell has a long history of community service and exudes positivity. Sid Gupta is an environmental champion with eight years of experience on the Sammamish Parks Commission, and he is currently president of the environmental nonprofit Sammamish Friends. Pam Stuart is deeply knowledgeable about long-term planning and sustainability.
All of these candidates have uniformly expressed an unwavering commitment to ensure our city government is not only forward thinking and focused on the community’s needs, but also operates with transparency and accountability.
Sammamish was once a role model for municipal governance in the region. The current council majority shows progress and promise towards reaching this standard again. Let’s support them and protect our own future by ensuring we elect candidates who are dedicated to building off of this foundation. Remember to vote!
Don Gerend served on Sammamish City Council from 1999 through 2017.