Bob Keller named new Sammamish mayor

The Sammamish City Council voted Tuesday to elect Deputy Mayor Bob Keller as its mayor for the remainder of the year. Council also unanimously elected Councilmember Christie Malchow as its new deputy mayor.

Former Mayor Don Gerend announced earlier this year that he would be stepping down as mayor at the July meeting.

“I could have stayed in as mayor but I felt I would be neglecting my duties,” Gerend said. “I think it adds a little interest to the city to have a new mayor.”

Both Gerend’s and Keller’s terms end this year, as well as Councilmembers Kathy Huckabay’s and Tom Odell’s.

Keller, who was nominated by Odell, was one of two nominations for mayor. Councilmember Ramiro Valderrama was nominated by Councilmember Tom Hornish.

“I think Bob Keller has served the city well,” Odell said before the vote. “Bob has put in a lot of time for the city. He’s been extremely active with the community. … I think he would make an excellent mayor.”

Keller ran unopposed for the City Council in 2013. Though this was his first term on the council, he had served on the city Planning Advisory Board which created the city’s first vision statement and Comprehensive Plan. He then served four years on the Sammamish Planning Commission, his final year as chair.

The council decided to vote for Valderrama-Aramayo first, as decided by a coin toss.

“We know that Ramiro has been a great council member,” Hornish said before the vote. Hornish pointed out that, after the year’s end, Valderrama-Aramayo will be the longest standing council member. “I know Bob would do a great job, but I know he has already decided not to continue on with council. Ramiro will be on for at least another two years with six years behind him.”

Valderrama-Aramayo earned three favorable votes. Keller earned six favorable votes, with Valderrama-Aramayo abstaining.

“I think anyone of us would be able to lead the city in a fine manner,” Malchow said before the vote. “Councilmember Valderrama and Deputy Mayor Keller are both very fit to serve in that role.”

Malchow, who is in her first term as a council member, was unopposed for the deputy mayor position. Huckabay nominated her.

“I have just been very impressed with Councilmember Malchow and some of the challenges she’s taken on, the way she’s grown over the last few years,” Huckabay said. “I do think that an opportunity to experience more leadership will help spread the knowledge and wealth of those people who are coming in at the start of January.”

Odell also showed his support for Malchow.

“I, like Councilmember Huckabay, have been very impressed with the way she’s taken on tasks and her attention to detail,” Odell said. “I think the city will be well served by her as deputy mayor.”

“Not only does she do her homework and is she extremely prepared for any meeting that I’ve attended with her, [she adds] excellent perspective,” Keller added.

Normally, the council elects a mayor every two years and a deputy mayor every year.