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VOTE411 Voter Guide

City of Sammamish Council Position No. 5

Salary $10,200Term: 4 yearsThe city council sets the general policies of the city, which are implemented by the city manager and staff. One of council's main duties is the adoption of policies and the enactment of the city's annual budget. City council sets fiscal policies and approves all spending , whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for city employees.
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    Rituja Indapure (NP) Senior Analyst, Costco

  • Candidate picture

    Chris Ross (NP) Financial Analyst

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Biographical Information

What are the issues surrounding your city/town's infrastucture?

How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?

What is your commitment to senior citizens?

How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?

What are other major issues facing your city or town?

Of those listed above, which one is the most urgent?

What methods will you use to work with the mayor (if you have an elected mayor) or the city manager or administrator(if you have an chief administrator hired by the council)?

Phone (425) 213-8225
Email ritujai@gmail.com
Town where you live Sammamish
Experience (300 characters max) I am a public school parent, tech industry professional and community volunteer who has the experience to bring people together and ensure strong community engagement so all voices are heard.
The top three issues that are of concern to the residents of Sammamish are the pace of growth, loss to natural habitats and lack of transit options and traffic.
Sammamish is essentially a bedroom community whose residents go out of the city to work. The city has been home to a Tent city in the past. I am a strong supporter of ensuring that we are able to provide affordable housing in Sammamish and we also are able to provide health and human services for our citizens.
Sammamish is a thriving community and seniors citizens play an important role in the city. Quality of life for seniors includes facilities for recreation and programs for their well being, something that we clearly lack in Sammamish. As an elected council member, I would support programs that would help seniors with recreational activities, educational opportunities, explore ways to partner with other organizations to provide recreational facilities and programs to Sammamish senior residents.
In the wake of a contentious and discordant national election, in December 2016, the City of Sammamish issued a proclamation stating its values of inclusivity and non-discrimination. Although Sammamish does not have to deal with issues related to immigration issues frequently, our police (we contract with King County Sheriff) have a policy of not asking about immigration status. It is essential that we continue to remain a welcoming and inclusive city.
While our city is growing, we are facing some challenges – many of us spend countless hours in traffic, worry about sustainable growth and are concerned about losing our natural habitats. We need to work with our regional partners to find cost effective transit and transportation options. We should support sensible growth, while balancing the need to protect the environment and character of our community, protect our parks and green spaces, and support reliable police, fire and support services.
As part my campaign, I have spoken to hundreds of Sammamish residents. They have expressed grave concerns about the pace at which new growth is taking place and the resulting increase in vehicular traffic that will occur.
In Sammamish, the City Manager is selected by the Council. I plan to have regularly scheduled in-person meetings with the city manager to learn about the affairs of the city, to be well prepared for all meetings- having done the necessary research on a given subject.
Phone (425) 270-8628
Email ross4us@hotmail.com
Town where you live Sammamish, WA
Experience (300 characters max) Currently serving as a Board Member of the Sammamish Kiwanis Foundation, and member of Citizens for Sammamish. Previous community involvement includes Kirkland Downtown on the Lake, Kirkland Human Services Advisory Committee, President of soccer club, soccer coach, and HOA Director / Treasurer.
Our city was incorporated in 1999. We are shifting from a city with rapid development to a sustaining and maintenance mode. We have been able to fund new development primarily with Impact Fees, Grants and Real Estate Excise Taxes. The costs for projects in the Transportation Improvement Plan have escalated to $165 Million with most of it unfunded and many unrelated to new development concurrency projects that include the impact fee funding source. Funding transportation improvements are critical and require careful selection of priorities that have the highest impact. We also need to emphasize connectivity to our surrounding communities. County and State transportation efforts need to place a greater emphasis on addressing the high growth in the Eastside. Seeking regional solutions with the state and county will often generate greater opportunities for grant funding.
Some emergency help was provided by Sammamish and other Eastside cities through the church community hosting temporary tent cities. However, city ordinances usually restrict stays at a single location to 90 days. A positive goal is to help the homeless transition from a difficult personal situation to a safer longer-term housing solution. Many of people unable to find housing in Sammamish are employed but displaced because they can’t afford to continue living in the city anymore. With the high price and rental costs for homes in Sammamish, permanent housing opportunities are out of reach. Sammamish’s purchase of property for a Habitat for Humanity development is a community success story. Programs like this and A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) help many of our homeless transition from dire circumstances to sustainable housing. Continuing to encourage different tiers of lower income housing in new developments like the Town Center will also provide housing opportunities.
I have had several conversations with senior citizens in our community. Many are finding it extremely difficult to remain in Sammamish due to the escalating values of their homes and property. Homes purchased decades ago often included acreage. As the city pursues its Land Acquisition Strategy, I would encourage purchasing acreage from these homeowners to reduce their property tax holding cost, provide them compensation, and enable them to remain in Sammamish. As a member of Kiwanis, we focus on programs helping children. Most of the Kiwanis volunteers are senior members of the community. Several of us often discuss what is the community doing for our aging population. We need to proactively engage senior citizens in defining gaps in serving them. They are quiet but growing in numbers. I am committed to engaging our senior population in dialogue to help generate any changes necessary to ensure seniors consider Sammamish a great welcoming place to live.
We need to be compassionate to every human being and celebrate our differences. I am married to a Chinese national that immigrated to the United States in 1986. She since has become a proud citizen of our great country. We have sponsored family members gradually immigrating to the United States. This process took many years. It is important for us to embrace these new residents and help them fully integrate in our community so they don’t feel isolated in a lonely subculture. Illegal immigration often involves sensitive family issues. Many are running scared from their home country. The city can provide education to help legally unite families. Federal orders to retain illegal immigrants subject to a criminal warrant must be honored by the city to preserve safety. Partnerships with the local jurisdictions and the Federal Government on immigration can help update policies as necessary to best reflect the needs of our country and communities.
Traffic: Enhancing and updating roads within the city are needed as infrastructure continues to lag behind growth. In addition to our city's efforts, regional cooperation is necessary to optimize our traffic improvements. We also must leverage opportunities with the county and state.

Environment: Caring for our environment is imperative as we manage future growth. We must work together with stakeholders to achieve innovative community design options to protect and improve the green character of Sammamish. We must prioritize investments protecting the tree canopy, sensitive areas, and habitats.

Financial Management: Sammamish faces a looming financial crisis where expenses will exceed revenues for the first time in the city’s history. Additionally, estimates for road project costs are ballooning. Skillful financial analysis and management is critical under these circumstances. Failure to focus on priorities over a long-range planning horizon will result in unnecessary tax burden.
Financial management is most critical because we need a long-term plan to address and adequately fund these challenges. Our finances are increasingly strained to meet our future demands. 1. We are approaching a crossover point where expenses exceed revenues, 2. our TIP costs are escalating with severe funding challenges, 3. the TIP does not recognize operating fund transfers beginning in 2021, and 4. our community is maturing and will need to find funding sources to adequately maintain our infrastructure. It would be irresponsible to consider new funding sources without first performing a careful examination and planning of the long-term priorities for the city. Each project and service should be evaluated to assess the required level of service. Through this exercise, if a funding shortage is identified, the conversation shifts to tax increases or cost reductions or a combination of both.
Sammamish has a council-manager government. This is the most common form of government where city council oversees local policy and budgets and appoints a professional city manager to handle administrative tasks on a daily basis. The council must provide clear policy direction and goals to the city manager. I would advocate a culture of pro-active management practices and long-term forecasting. Every proposal requires a long-term business case view. The relationship of trust and respect is critical. The mayor and deputy mayor work closely with the city manager setting the agenda. The agenda must reflect what matters for the citizens of Sammamish. The council should never surprise the City Manager with a topic in a public venue that may undermine his credibility. The council must however, hold the City Manager accountable and tough issues must be addressed in public.

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