Tom Odell to run for re-election
May 1, 2013
By Ari Cetron
Saying there are some projects he’s started that he’d like to see through, Sammamish City Councilman Tom Odell announced his run for re-election.
Specifically, Odell mentioned the Town Center, Community Center, and keeping the gears of government moving.
Odell, who is currently serving as mayor, is in his first term on the City Council and even when he was running the first time, he mentioned the Community Center was, by far, the top issue he heard about from residents. Three years later, there’s a voter-approved plan in place and a design team working on the project.
He, along with the rest of the council, was cautious when, last month, they heard a preliminary cost estimate of $32.3 million. The project budget is $30 million. Odell said that he plans to keep a close eye on the budget to make sure the project doesn’t go above $30 million.
He floated the idea of breaking the project into phases if the cost cannot be brought under control to keep the budget in line.
Odell, 68 and a resident of the Heritage Hills neighborhood, also hopes to see progress on Town Center.
He notes the Town Center plan was approved just before the start of the great recession, which put major projects on hold across the country.
Even without the economic problems, Odell said there would be other concerns, such as “trying to get 50 property owners to go in the same direction at the same time.”
He further noted that the plan was not flexible enough to allow Ace Hardware to build within the area, and thought there might be some ways to allow those sorts of things in the future.
“There might be a need for some changes,” Odell said. “If there’s a way to accommodate (small developments) in the Town Center plan, we might tend to look at it.”
He also said that whatever they do, the city should try to maintain Sammamish’s character. He notes that around the region and around the country, there are countless examples of multi-story buildings with residential over retail.
“I don’t want it to become like many towns around the country,” Odell said. “They’ve all become cookie-cutter.”
He theorized that the city might want to look for ways to attract small start-ups, particularly tech start-ups that would make use of the city’s wealth of residents who have expertise in those areas.
“I think we do need to find places for people to work here. At the same time, we don’t want to have a huge thing.”
Odell said it’s important to be good stewards of the city’s infrastructure, both man-made and natural.
He said ensuring that roads are paved and potholes are filled is important to him. He also wants to make efforts to preserve the environment.
“I’m not a tree-hugger, but I get distressed every time I see people clear cut a lot,” he said.
Odell is married and has two adult children, one in Seattle and the other in Pittsburgh.
In addition to the City Council, he serves on a number of regional boards and commissions.
He is a member of the SAMMI awards Board of Directors and was recently appointed to the Lake Washington Schools Foundation advisory board.
Odell stressed that he has no political ambitions for higher office.
“I want to maintain Sammamish as a top place to live and play, and in the future, work, maybe.”