In the 2023 Sammamish City Council elections, voters strongly affirmed the style and direction of the current city council by reelecting all three incumbents.
During this election, campaigning reached a post-COVID normal. Candidates were able to meet large numbers of voters face-to-face, in addition to putting up yard signs and amplifying their messages on social media platforms. Ultimately, direct voter engagement, positive campaigning, and incumbency decided the election.
The candidates split into two major camps. The first consisted of Pam Stuart, Roisin O’Farrell, Sid Gupta and Kerry Bosworth. These candidates prioritized climate action and the creation of additional revenue streams to support the city’s budget. They held weekly coffee chats, were a familiar sight at large city events, and generally engaged with voters more than the other candidates. Stuart, O’Farrell and Gupta each won their respective races.
Former council member Jason Ritchie believes these results suggest voters strongly valued in-person engagement.
“What we call retail politics, knocking on doors, matters,” Ritchie said. “Reaching out to people and listening to what they have to say.”
The second camp consisted of Kent Treen, Josh Amato and Pamela Randolph. These candidates prioritized controls on planned development and cuts to the current budget. In their campaigns, both Amato and Randolph criticized the city council for raising taxes and delegating fiscal responsibility to a Fiscal Sustainability Taskforce.
Ritchie believes that the attacks that Amato and Randolph lobbed on the city budget did not stick.
“The budget doesn’t electrify the constituents,” Ritchie said. “It’s a very affluent community, pennies on the dollar of tax raised.”
He also believes voters were more receptive to new ideas around managing growth, and wanted to be “moving forward, not back.”
Sue Zanner, 52, found the nature of the negative campaigning off-putting.
“I didn’t like the way that Josh Amato was advertising with his road signs that I would see driving my boys to school,” Zanner said. “ I liked some of the things that Pamela [Randolph] was saying about being a unifying voice.”
Out of the second camp, only Treen won his election. Both Ritchie, and former council member Ramiro Valderrama, attribute this result to Bosworth’s failure to challenge Treen on his record and controversies, including allegations that he conducted city business on private messaging apps.
“It worked in his favor that he didn’t have to defend himself in public,” said Valderrama. “Had there been discussions on the issues that he raised, there would have been a more stark ability to contrast them.”
Still, Valderrama said Bosworth did succeed in significantly eroding Treen’s support. Despite being an incumbent, Treen’s vote share dropped by 7 percentage points compared to 2019, when he was first elected to office.
In the battle between two newcomers, Gupta and Randolph, Valderrama believes Gupta won due to name recognition “between having been well known in the community, and because of those environmental positions he ran on.”
Stuart, O’Farrell, and Treen’s terms will last for four years, while Gupta’s term will span only two years given his position opened up due to a city council resignation.
Reflecting on his first win as a candidate for public office, Gupta expressed gratitude for the community’s support and engagement.
“Thank you for participating in our local government. Whether or not you agree with what I believe in, making your voice heard matters,” said Gupta.