Position 7, one of four Sammamish City Council seats up for election this year, will see a primary in August.
Program and project management consultant Melanie Curtright, retired businessman John Robinson and senior program manager Pam Stuart have registered for the Position 7 seat. Roger Chapanis recently dropped out of the race due to health reasons, but his name will still appear on the ballot.
Curtright, 57, has lived in Sammamish with her two sons for 14 years.
She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from California State University.
For the last 30 years, Curtright has been working for a management consulting firm. She said she’s worked with teams across the globe for many companies, including Microsoft, Costco, T-mobile and Amazon.
“I’ve really worked with people all around the world and had to build consensus across divergent views … to achieve goals,” she said. “I have to listen to subject matter experts, I have to listen to different views and weigh all of that to make a decision that’s in line with the company. … I do exactly what the City Council does.”
Additionally, she volunteers with her teenage sons — who she adopted from China and Cambodia, respectively. Curtright, a white woman, said she wants to represent single moms and families with diverse ethnicities on the City Council.
“Sammamish is not this homogeneous community anymore,” she said. “It’s very diverse. There are a lot of families out there like mine. … I want to be a voice for them.”
Regarding issues in Sammamish, Curtright said that traffic, land acquisitions and “thoughtful growth” are her top priorities.
She said traffic improvements need to happen now, which is why she suggests going after “low-hanging fruit” like creating bus pullouts or creating a shuttle system for within the city. She said she wants to look at what other cities are doing to learn from them.
She applauds the city’s current goal of investing in open space and wants to continue that. “We need to preserve our natural environment so we are keeping Sammamish a special place, a beautiful place, to live,” she said. “We do need to protect our forests and wetlands.”
While she doesn’t necessarily support a building moratorium since that impacts a lot of people, she does want to slow development. She said it really comes down to what do the residents want this community to look like. She said the city needs to be much more circumspect with how often permits are given.
Robinson, 68, has lived in Sammamish with his wife and four daughters for 28 years.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and minor in chemistry and medical technology from California State University at Northridge. Before that he served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968-1972 and was stationed in Vietnam for a year.
He obtained a Series 7 license to become a stock broker in ‘76 and was employed by Merrill Lynch as a securities broker until 1980. After that he wanted to return to science so he founded his own software company in ‘88 in health care, providing software solutions for clinical and pharmaceutical laboratories. He ran this business for 10 years before becoming a director of sales and manager of accounts for several international medical device companies. He retired in 2016.
He said now that he’s retired he has the time necessary to dedicate to being a City Council member, which he said is anything but a part-time job.
“I’ve always wanted to be involved in the city,” he said. His wife was the director and longtime member of the Sammamish Arts Commission.
Related to development, city character and the environment, he said he’s “concerned for the direction of the city.”
He said that comprehensive planning, growth management and managing environmentally sensitive areas are his top priority.
He said he’d like to enhance the city’s roads and trails while being fiscally conservative. “I don’t want to increase taxes,” he said.
He wants to take a long-range planning look at the city, envisioning what citizens want it to look like in 20 to 30 years. “I can tell you what I don’t want Sammamish to be,” he said — one lacking infrastructure and one that’s overdeveloped.
“I want to go at it in a real-world approach,” he said. He wants to give priority to what citizens want: protecting the tree canopy, increase the use of passive city lands for trails and open space and to control traffic in a fiscally responsive manner.
Stuart, 48, has lived in Sammamish with her husband and two children for 15 years.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in economics from the University of Maryland.
She said her education would be “ideally suited to deal with the issues facing the city right now.” “My engineering background will be essential in reviewing and understanding traffic and environmental studies, dealing with storm water runoff and drainage issues, and the econ concentration will be key in dealing with the city finances,” she said.
She’s worked at Microsoft for the past 15 years, currently as a senior program manager in customer and partner advocacy. She applies her technical skills and know-how to communicate with Microsoft customers and Microsoft’s engineering team to advocate for the customer. She said she has the technical depth and the ability to understand the business implications.
She’s served as president of parent teacher organizations, has coached basketball through the Boys and Girls Club and she’s served on the board of Eastlake Little League and was the chief umpire. She also trains and teaches martial arts with her children in Sammamish. Recently she earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Her husband owns a music business in Sammamish and is also the controller of the Sammamish-based nonprofit, Athletes for Kids.
She said she was spurred to get involved at a local level after the national November 2016 election. “The right thing to do was be the agent for the change that I want to see,” she said.
Her priorities for the city center around sustainable growth management, improving city connectivity, boosting senior services and reducing traffic by increasing the capacity of roads and introducing more public transportation options.
She said the city could better promote technology to connect people so they can carpool. She also wants to see the creation of a “intra city trolley,” providing people with a transportation option that gets them of the neighborhoods and into the city’s main business corridor.
Regarding seniors, she wants to see low-income seniors given a discount at the Sammamish Y or to create a senior center.