Why am I running?
Growth is forcing the city to confront some serious decisions and the choices we make now will dictate the future of the community. Trees, parks and amenities, paired with access to a vibrant high-tech corridor, have made Sammamish highly desirable. However, at this critical stage, we could lose our identity as a leafy, green community. The city is experiencing significant growing pains – heavy peak traffic, infrequent public transit, lack of sidewalks and trails, crowded ball fields – and more.
Our problems aren’t unique to us and are common for cities at our stage. Balanced, planned growth means recognizing and accepting that change is going to happen. Sammamish is not frozen in amber.
Looking ahead, those with deep management, strong communications and partnering skills, as well as budget experience are going to be needed to help tackle the next difficult stages of the city’s evolution.
My priorities: Sustainable growth management – preserving our natural environment, roads, safe neighborhoods, and financial responsibility.
Growth: Sammamish falls under the GMA as a Urban Growth Area. Regional infrastructure has not kept pace with growth and residents are frustrated with the onslaught of development they see around them.
In response, the City Council has voted in concurrency regulations that could prohibit the construction of a planned town center. Some residents want the Town Center to function as the town’s vibrant ‘living room’ and house new businesses and planned population expansion including more affordable units and senior housing options. Others are committed to zero development and keeping as much natural open space as possible. I’m committed to bridging our divided community, to finding a realistic and sustainable path forward.
Transit: I am a transit supporter and want to permit and start work on our Park & Ride as was promised to Sammamish through ST3 funding. Town Center would be a logical site but my concern is cost. Sound Transit's budget for our parking lot will only accommodate a flat lot, not a structure. Pinning hopes on a grant to fill the gap in funding is problematic. Putting the project on hold until funds are available adds mightily to the overall cost of the project. I am endorsed by ATU 587, the union covering our METRO drivers. I will work to fast-track our Park and Ride to help move Sammamish residents efficiently.
Housing: I'm interested bolstering our partnership with ARCH to increase housing options. I'd like to investigate funding a land trust to create more affordable housing for those who work in Sammamish. I support ADUs, shared housing, and co-ops. I’m optimistic that we can attract more diversity in income, ages, and ethnicity if we can reduce the cost of the land and partner with a developer who specializes in workforce housing.
Youth: Thirty-five percent of our residents are under 18. I want to do a better job of educating not just kids but parents about the prevalence of drugs in our schools and what they can do about it. Anxiety and depression are on the rise (“Ever having been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression” among children aged 6–17 years increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8% in 2007 and to 8.4% in 2011–2012 from the CDC). Sammamish has an unusually high suicide rate. Responses to the WA 2010 Healthy Youth Survey showed that 18 percent of tenth graders seriously thought about attempting suicide during the 12 months prior to the survey. Seven percent of tenth graders reported making a suicide attempt in the 12 months prior to the survey. Responses by sixth-graders on the 2010 Washington Healthy Youth Survey showed that 14 percent had ever seriously considered killing themselves and that 5 percent had ever tried to kill themselves. Clearly there’s a need for a school therapist/counselor in every school.
I’ve written IEPs and 504s and partnered with school districts and therapists to help foster kids. My work as a CASA has opened my eyes tremendously in this area and only through community engagement and information sharing can we begin to offer the kind of help our kids need and deserve.
Actions speak louder than words. These are some of my values. They will be familiar as many of you share them. Here is how I live them.
1) I believe that we are the stewards of the land and water and that everyone has the right to clean water, clean air, and a healthy natural environment. PROOF: I am president of a Sammamish conservation non-profit focused on sustainability and community. I am a Certified Wildlife Habitat Steward. I’ve worked shoulder-to-shoulder with community volunteers to remove invasive plants and replace them with native species. In the rain and mud.
2) I believe that healthcare is a basic human right. You have the right to access all lawful medical treatment options regardless of ability to pay. PROOF: I serve on the board of the Prescription Drug Assistance Foundation. PDAF was created by the Washington State legislature to aid patients where prescription drug coverage is inadequate.
3) I believe that safe, quality, affordable housing is a basic human right, and the foundation for success in life, education and employment. PROOF: As a Habitat for Humanity volunteer I helped build the retaining walls for our Habitat community.
4) I believe in the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all human beings. PROOF: I serve on King County’s Children & Youth Advisory Board where we view every decision through an equity lens to root out deeply entrenched systems of racism and to build strong foundations of agency.
5) I believe as a caring community, we must provide a safety net of social services that meets the basic needs of people, especially those on the margins. PROOF: I am a court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children in foster care. Today I will be writing a court report to ensure the kiddos I’m charged with protecting will get much needed mental health services.
6) BTW: I also believe that immigrants strengthen our communities; that a strong economy depends on jobs that provide safe working conditions, fair and living wages; that laws should protect all the lives of all people, especially vulnerable populations, such as our school children, from gun violence; that climate change should be addressed as a crisis; and that an efficient, well-planned, multimodal transportation system promotes a healthy economy, environment, and community.
Our General Fund 2020 revenues (as of 6/18/19) show us at $44,223,740 while expenditures are at $48,290,321. A revenue shortfall of ~$4M.
And that general fund surplus? Of the $17M 'surplus', $4,422,374 is set aside as part of the 10% strategic reserve. The remaining ~$12.6M may be needed for cost increases in existing general fund programs (e.g. public safety contract costs typically rise higher than inflation). Or to cover one-time shortfalls in projected revenues or cost overruns in budgeted projects during the 2019 and 2020 period.
My point? It's not not clear there's really a surplus here. What IS clear is that we spend more than we make.
The Finance Committee has not met since June. The next budget meeting for the City Council is set for after the election. If elected, I'll ask to join the Finance Committee and then meet regularly with the City's accounting and finance department. I recommend creating a 6-year budget so we can do a better, smarter job of long-range planning. Our budget woes are similar to Mercer Island and Medina. LIke them, the lion's share of our revenue rests on the backs of property tax payers. Mercer Island is cutting services and Medina is trying to raise property taxes. We should be paying close attention to what's happening here.
I would seek to form a budget task force made up of professionals from our community. They would help build a workable 6-year plan and forecast and include diversification of revenue sources. I would communicate our financial health to residents regularly and make sure all reports were clear and easy to understand. Residents will need prioritize what initiatives and projects they want funded and when.
Here is a link to a budget presentation from the City. It's from 2017 but still very useful. https://www.sammamish.us/attachments/pagecontent/44767/Roundtable%202017%20-%20Long%20Term%20Operations%20Financing.pdf