Why am I running? To enable a more livable Sammamish for all residents.
Decisions and the choices we make now will dictate the future of our 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 like ours. I will use my experience as a collaborator and business leader to bring best practices to Sammamish.
Looking ahead, only those with deep management, communication and partnering skills, as well as budget experience, will be successful in tackling the next stages of the city’s evolution.
My priorities: Preserving our natural environment, ensuring safe neighborhoods, transparency, fiscal accountability and responsibility.
Data-driven decisions: Sammamish falls under the Growth Management Act as an Urban Growth Area. Regional infrastructure has not kept pace with growth and residents are frustrated with the onslaught of development they see around them.
We can do better. Let's learn what residents really want and prioritize projects based public input. We don't have unlimited funds - far from it. Residents, should drive priorities. This is why I believe a participatory budget involving you in the process is a commonsense objective. It moves financial power to the people, which is the right direction.
Transit: I am a transit supporter and support breaking ground on our new Park & Ride as was promised to Sammamish through ST3 funding. Unfortunately, our P & R is going to be delayed for several years. Sammamish is clearly not a priority for Sound Transit. We have to build a better relationship with both Sound Transit and METRO.
Beyond this, I will partner with other regional municipalities to negotiate route improvements with King County Metro and Sound Transit.
Housing: Let's bolster our partnership with ARCH to increase housing options. We could create a land trust for supportive housing reserved for our teachers and first responders. Many of us moved here for the schools. What a loss if talented, young teachers can't work and live here!
Seniors: I support the creation of a senior/community center with excellent programming and easy access.
Youth: Thirty-five percent of our residents are under 18. I will work to give parents the information and tools they need to help keep their children safe. Depressed children and teenagers have an increased risk of suffering from premature death and a wide range of illnesses later in life according to a large observational study from 2020. Anxiety and depression are on the rise among youth according to the CDC. Sammamish has a painfully 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 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 and additional resources.
I've partnered with school districts, therapists, and service providers to help foster kids thrive. Through community education and enhanced services we can deliver the kind of support our kids need and deserve.
Infrastructure: We want our infrastructure to catch up but it comes at a cost. The Transportation Capital Improvement Plan shows a projected deficit of $9M for 2021. Those are 2019 numbers so this estimate does not include cost increases. And the deficit grows substantially over time. Impact fees, by law, cannot be used as the sole source of funding of the system improvements needed to serve the new development.
Unfortunately, growth does not pay for growth.
Perhaps 85% of Sammamish has already been developed and impact fees paid. Most suburban developments like ours do not generate enough revenue to pay for long-term maintenance costs. Sammamish residents could be looking at a significant tax hike just to break even on the costs of maintaining existing infrastructure. How much is enough infrastructure? And what level of service on roads are we prepared to pay for?
If we want “infrastructure to catch up”, then we must specify exactly what we want done and by-when, plus a detailed funding strategy that will include debt. If we want a senior/community center too, then we must balance that with other capital improvements and make informed tradeoff decisions, such as making roads safer and adding sidewalks but maybe not widen roads.
Sammamish is car-oriented, not multimodal. Cars require infrastructure for a low yield of productive economic activity (e.g. taxable value per acre). Every road, water pipe, or sewer main will eventually have to be replaced. By approving the development and associated infrastructure expansions, we are making a promise to current and future residents to maintain that infrastructure indefinitely. Any new development must be carefully planned to reduce infrastructure stresses on our current systems.
Concentrating future growth is environmentally sustainable and less expensive to maintain over time. It's also less reliant on car-only transport.
Public safety: We all want to feel safe in our homes and neighborhoods, but many residents have an uneasy feeling that although we live in one of the safest cities in Washington, there's concern that we don't have enough police protection to serve as a deterrent. The Police Service Study (2019) documented gaps in coverage and recommended we augment staff and suggested ways we could fund the headcount. That makes perfect sense.
However, the study did not consider our crime statistics, rather it covered how residents feel about crime and policing.
If you know the Sammamish crime stats and their context, you’re in a much better position to decide if you need officers or trauma-informed case managers, or both. For example, in 2019 there were 68 burglaries. But who did them? Were they youth or adults who live here? Or was Sammamish targeted by those who live elsewhere? These are important and easy questions to answer first.
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.
6) I 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? Where is the surplus? Our legal fees have jumped from $300K to close to $3 Million. We don't teach our kids to spend more than they can afford, right? Why isn't the City Council talking about this?
The Finance Committee has not met for months and is effectively disbanded. If elected, I'll reserect the Finance Committee and meet regularly with the City's accounting and finance department. I recommend creating a 6-year budget (even though it's delivered in 2-year increments) 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 to our budget.
I will 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 should be able to participate in the budgeting process and help prioritize what initiatives and projects they want funded and by-when.
Here is a link to the 2021-2022 budget docs. https://www.sammamish.us/government/departments/finance-risk-management/budget-documents/